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Digital Health — 4 min

Getting away from screens: not easy, but possible!

December 9th, 2019
Dr. Johanne Lévesque
Guest specialist - Neuropsychologist, biofeedback and neurofeedback practitioner

In collaboration with guest specialist, Dr. Johanne Lévesque, neuropsychologist, biofeedback and neurofeedback practitioner.

No matter how much we want to get away from our screens, it’s never easy and not always possible. For many people, the smartphone is still the only way they can communicate with people.

However, it is important to be vigilant and seek a balance between online and offline activities. Here’s a short guide to achieve this without losing your mind!

Withdraw gradually

When you look at social media, a neurotransmitter in the fronto-striatal circuit, or the reward and pleasure circuit, is activated and produces dopamine, the pleasure hormone. Once you put away your phone or tablet, you may experience a lack of dopamine. You usually feel empty and anxious at the beginning of withdrawal, leading to an increase in cortisol levels.

Set times to be online and offline

If you have decided to quit screens for an extended period (during vacation, for example), limit your screen use to certain times of the day, depending on your needs and abilities. The idea is to free yourself and not to cause discomfort.

Set fixed times to check your emails or social media and keep to them. Set a timer or ask someone to notify you at the end of the period... the important thing is to stick to the time you allocate.

If you are used to replying quickly to your messages, let your contacts know that this will not be the case for a few days.

Read more: Are you addicted to your screens?

Disable notifications

Disable any audio or visual alerts that tell you that a new message has arrived or that a person has changed their profile. Most messages can wait a few hours or even a few days for a reply.

Keep busy

The best way to quit screens is to stay active and think of other things. Take your kids on an outing, go for a walk, rediscover board games, enjoy a good book, savour a meal in total peace… There are so many things to do and discover!

For further reflection

  • Flirtez-vous avec la cyberdépendance? (in French), a book by Manon Guérin, is about the love-hate relationship she has with the digital world.
  • The site pausetonecran.com encourages a balanced use of screens and features fun and easy quizzes to determine your level of addiction, as well as ideas to help you stay in control.

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