It seems like today we’ve all turned into Pavlov’s dog whenever we hear the vibration of our cell phone or the ping of a new message in our inbox.
Like most of you, I work in an office all day long. And, like many of you, I have a side-hustle which requires me to also use a laptop. And what do I do in-between all this time on a screen? Three guesses… BINGO! I look at my blinking-blue-light-emitting cell phone in every other hour god gives me.
In fact, I didn’t realise until recently how MUCH I was looking at my cellphone. Turns out, I am using my phone a shocking 3-5 hours a day, the bulk of which time is on Instagram (as tracked by the excellent App ‘Moment’). I KNOW: don’t you judge me! And yes, on days where I am in a conference or travelling, that number goes higher again. I think that when this is the case, it is appropriate to ask ourselves what the *EFF* are we up to?
The truth is – we want to get off more. Unfortunately, we’ve all become such screen suckers that it is hard to imagine life not being on our devices. The problem is we have a holiday and leave them behind, swearing we will reform our ways. But over the weeks and months, our usage creeps up.
So, in the spirit of change, and partially because you may be starting to notice that I use The Residents as cheap therapy, I’ve decided to share with you (and re-iterate to myself) why it is time to start really bringing consciousness to how much time we are on a computer and why we need to correct this behavriour because it is doing very little good to us, inside and out.
1. Digital 101: Mental Health and Screens Are Not BFFS
I used to think that mental health was something which affected other people, not me. However, as I grow older I start to know myself better and I can look back and, most usefully, look upon myself in the present, to notice when things start to get out of kilter.
Screen time is a major trigger for loneliness, depression and anxiety. There are many studies that show links between poor mental health and too much time online. But we don’t have to be on the verge of a full on breakdown to benefit from turning off our screens, much in the same way that we don’t need to be covered in mud to have a bath. Little changes, and often, are the key to long-term digital health.
Using an app to track the amount of time I spend on my phone has made me realise that the days where I try and keep usage to 3 hours or under I feel much less anxious and generally wake up the next day in a better mood. I am more attentive to my family and boyfriend, and I don’t get into a twist watching what everyone else is up to. If I am to be able to be my best self, I need to cut the time on my cellphone and force myself to turn it off. Yes, some weeks it seems harder than others, especially with competing side projects, but I know that at 28 (soon to be 29) the time has come to take care of myself. I need to be responsible for my behavior and acting like a brutal British nanny towards my own self is necessary to make me into the best version of me.
2. It’s not just inside: Protecting eyes and face from HEV and UVA
While I am really bad at remembering to put on broad sunscreen UVA every day, (ie the first thing necessary to protect your face from harmful rays from the sun) I do love to apply creams to my face before I go to bed. I’m going to try and fix this, but if you do already use sunscreen each day (and if you don’t, join me in trying harder) there is MAJOR benefit to upgrading and using a proper eye cream that targets blue light. As well as wearing reading glasses while you type on your computer like me (blue light protective if you fancy going the whole nine-yards), a good eye cream will help reduce wrinkles from squinting. But did you know it could also protect that lovely face of yours from your blue-light emitting screen?
I recently read a Guardian article online all about blue light, or high-energy visible light (HEV) emitted by our devices (including TV’s, florescent lights and other screens). Beauty industry members and dermatologists are expressing concerns about HEV, which they claim could lead to premature aging of skin due to free-radicals that come about as a product of blue light. This has led to the industry racing to find a solution and conduct more research. And while the jury is out as to whether the evidence is conclusive, there is certainly value in taking this innovation and research as a call to action to update ones eye cream with the latest technology and development in beauty.
If you have been following me on Instagram, you’ll already know that I am a big fan of Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair and the regime of products in that line. On 16 July Estée Lauder will launch Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery. The eye gel crème is referred to as ‘supercharged’ because it delivers 10x concentrated repair technology to fight blue light. Because I’m a lucky duck, I was sent a PR sample to try. Little did they know, I love so many things about myself but my dark under eye circles my biggest bug bear! I have found in the last couple of weeks that my under-eye circles are starting to fade quite well, and that my skin around my eyes stays hydrated all day. This is a GREAT eye cream you'll def want to use every morning and night. I find it makes a real difference.
Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery helps reduce lines, puffiness, and provides long-lasting anti-oxidant protection. I’ve been using it both morning and night and it is going really well so far and seems to make a big difference. I am also trying to get 8-9 hours of sleep and stay hydrated, but as we know sometimes life gets in the way. Despite being a bit hit and miss on the basics, the eye cream is making a remarkable difference. I love the texture and how comforting it feels on my face. I also like to rub a little of the excess into my lips for extra moisture. You can try a sample at any Estée Lauder counter around NZ and give it a go yourself!
3. Clean consumption – we are what we consume on our feed
The final tip I have is that I think in the future we are going to treat consumption of content like we did the clean eating movement. Think: books and classic films = fibre vs Kardasian re-runs and too much twitter = junk food. We are learning that more and more what we see and what we consume affects our mental health. We know that there are big teams of developers at Instagram trying to make the app ‘more sticky’ so that we stay on it longer. Let’s acknowledge a great quote from Seth Godin to back up why they do this:
“Social Media wasn’t invented to make you better. It was invented to make the companies money. And you are an employee of the company and you are the product that they sell. And they have put you in a little hamster wheel and they throw little treats in now and then. But you gotta decide, what’s the impact you’re trying to make.”
To paraphrase millennial expert Emma Gannon, it makes sense to have some impact on the way if we are all just little hamsters for big companies. Let’s focus on making an impact on our own lives, our friends lives and the world around us. It is important to find out who we are have a purpose.
So first, quit following people who make you feel bad. Then second, use your profile to make an impact. Start blogging, begin a not-for-profit or start writing fan fiction. And if none of that appeals to you, organize a night for you ‘offline’ once a week, put on a sheet mask, whack on some Advanced Night Repair Supercharged Complex Synchronised Recovery eye cream and read a good book. In the twenty-first century, that sounds like quite a luxury indeed.
Photos by Dinosaurtoast.
This blog post is kindly sponsored by Estée Lauder but as usual all opinions, and bad sunscreen applying habits, are my own.