It is healthier to relax away from screens

Beep… Beep… Beep…

No, that’s not the sound of a heart monitor — that’s the sound of messages bombarding your phone at all hours of the day. Some may be from work, others from school, and still others from friends and family, but all need your immediate attention.

But do they really?

most members of Gen Z find it difficult to stop using their phones. Additionally, the link between worsening mental health and technology is highly-studied, indicating a distressing pattern.”

Looking closer, only a few of those alerts are genuinely urgent (it’s okay if your friend’s “how are you” text goes unanswered for a few hours!). But when everyone’s on their phone all the time, there’s an expectation that if you reach out, you’ll get a reply within minutes — and if you don’t get one, the other person’s being rude. This culture of perpetual availability tethers people to technology, when we really need to disconnect.

When you come home after a long day, for example, it’s nice to unwind with some personal time. No matter if you like to go for five-mile runs, watch a movie with a bowl of buttery popcorn, or curl up with a good book, having time to set your own agenda is a necessity. Research has shown that purposeful solitude can even improve mental health, since you can focus on your own needs and manage your stress in a personal way.

Spending lots of time on the internet, on the other hand, can make you feel worse. A survey by GfK Consumer Life concluded that most members of Gen Z find it difficult to stop using their phones. Additionally, the link between worsening mental health and technology is highly-studied, indicating a distressing pattern. And when you feel that familiar headache coming on after hours of heavy technology use, you certainly don’t feel your best.

The course of action is clear: when messages aren’t urgent, don’t treat them as such. Allow people the freedom to respond when they have time and energy to do so. If it’s imperative to get a response by a certain time, send your question well in advance — and if it’s too late for that, accept that you may have to do some creative problem-solving. People cannot be expected to live with their phones always at-hand in the event that maybe, just maybe, something important will come their way. Maybe there’s something in the real world that matters more.