Creating 'Quality Time' in the Digital Age

By poppy millett -

 

It’s understandable that after a hard day’s work you want to sink deep into a sofa, and perhaps even deeper into your screen. Whether it’s mindless scrolling or binge-watching box sets, spending excessive time on your digital devices has been proven to be ultimately more stressful than it is relaxing. [1]

This stress can stem from guilt over “lost hours,” depleted self-esteem from unrealistic imagery on social media, addiction to the dopamine hit of ‘likes,’ over-stimulation from the blue light emitted from phones, tablets and computers [2] – not to mention the constant bamboozling of notifications and sensationalist content online – and the list goes on.

Sometimes the healthiest way to “switch-off” is to, quite literally, switch off. Nevertheless, our electronics do make life easier and, in 2019, are near impossible to live without.

So, as our everyday lives become more and more ingrained with our digital ones, moments of togetherness with our loved ones have become increasingly sparse and, because of this, precious. The promise of the internet was connection, but it’s fallen short of face-to-face interaction and real life community when it comes to an individual’s contentedness and well-being. In Lost Connections, author Johann Hari suggests that the antidote to the feelings of anxiety and loneliness brought on by our devices is human contact and ‘quality time’ with others [3].

So, this spring we encourage you to put your phone back in your bag and close your laptop lid – just for a bit – and MAKE time for some quality time.

Here are five suggestions to help you replace screen-time with ‘quality time’:
 

Develop Routines  

Setting parameters and scheduling in regular time with family or friends – to have date night with your partner once a week, to meet mum once a fortnight, to see the old gang every other month – lets both parties know where they stand and gives them the comfort of regularity. This goes for you too: developing a routine for oneself can reduce stress, ensure you are compartmentalising suitably and that you have some allotted time to spend on more enriching activities.

Making plans with others not only creates the opportunity to catch up with loved ones, but brings with it something to look forward to and something to remember. Both the anticipation and memory of events are recognised as creating feelings of great satisfaction in individuals according to Joseph Pine’s and James Gilmore’s seminal essay The Experience Economy.
 

Blocker apps

Used by many a student trying to write an essay un-distracted, there are tons of apps that will put a temporary block on certain applications, websites or the internet – as dictated by you. This can help you more strictly regulate you or your kid’s behaviour when it comes to screen time.

There are also apps you can employ that lay dormant on your phone and monitor how much time you spend on the device and on which applications (this software is now built into the latest iOS). This is great tool to help you understand where your time is going. Plus, it can be fun to set personal goals and see fluctuations when using one of these apps.


Eat together

This could mean the eating supper with your family, taking turns each week to cook dinner for flat-mates, or inviting a loved one over for a lunch or dinner party at weekends (see our top dinner part tips here). Sitting round a table and enjoying a shared meal is an activity that’s been associated with bonding throughout history, with food itself being incredibly emotive.

We suggest forming a tradition around communal eating, such as Sunday Lunch every weekend with your mates or doing a ‘posh’ breakfast every Saturday morning with the family – where you take your time over pastries or a cooked meal, rather rushed than cereal or toast.
 

The little things

It’s the little things that let loved ones know you’re thinking about them and ultimately help sustain relationships. Here you can and should employ technology... send a quick message, voice-note or a picture of a shared memory to them. Send postcards when you’re on holiday and write letters to those you haven’t seen in a long time.

Sometimes ‘quality time’ is about identify when the people around you might need someone - it doesn’t need to be an entire day, it can be 2 minutes it takes to send a quick text, just to let them know you’re there.
 

Spring time

With spring on its way, there are plenty of opportunities to unwind, socialise and spend time with loved ones - Mother’s Day, Easter, bank holidays and Jardin Blanc  at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Take advantage of them.

Jardin Blanc is the official hospitality area at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Tucked away in a private corner of the show ground, apart from Chelsea’s hustle and bustle, it consists of a beautiful secret garden, restaurant and terraced bar – all curated by Raymond Blanc OBE. Inside is the perfect environment to relax, away from the stresses of everyday life, to be in nature, and to surround yourself with family and friends in this secret garden paradise.

Grab the opportunities of national holidays, birthdays and other set-events to create quality time as you can guarantee others will be free and in the mood mingle.  

 

~

 

[1] Jaron Lanier - Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018)

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side (2014)

[3] Johann Hari – Lost Connections (2018)

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