The digital age has made us reliant on our electronic devices, and the pandemic demands increased screen time for us. With physical distance making school, work and even shopping for essential items an online practice, it’s basically impossible to avoid our devices. 

Using our devices for these requirements isn’t so much of a problem. The problem lies in the addiction that comes with it, especially when these devices are a gateway to entertainment and social media. These platforms are designed to reel you in and make you stay. Before you know it, you’re scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, refreshing news sites every few minutes for the latest updates, and watching endless YouTube videos or hours of Netflix content. 

When does it become too much?

The instant gratification of online content creates the expectation for fast and rapid delivery. We start to expect things instantaneously and may feel agitated when we are unable to get what we want right there and then. This can cause irritability and impatience, which becomes detrimental when it seeps into our everyday life.

We may find ourselves becoming more impatient with people and having a tendency to snap when we experience the slightest inconvenience. This could then affect our relationships with people, which in this pandemic should be the last thing we want to happen. 

The good news is, this can be remedied!

There is rarely a problem that cannot be solved. If you ever find yourself having a shorter attention span and thinner patience, it’s a good time to unplug. Create a boundary between yourself and your gadgets, so that you can feel more at peace.

  1. Limit screen time.

It’s hard to quit an addiction cold turkey, and it may not be good for you anyway. If you try to give something up completely and suddenly, you may find yourself falling back into old habits more easily. This is because your body is in shock and was not given time to adjust. So, try to limit your screen time first instead of completely swearing off your gadgets. 

Excluding the time you need to spend with your gadgets for essential stuff like work or school, try to set a time limit for recreational screen time. For example, limit yourself to one movie a day. Or three YouTube videos a day. Or only 45 minutes on social media. It may be hard at first, but like any habit, it just takes some getting used to. You’ll soon realise that by limiting your time in cyberspace, you’ll have more time for your hobbies or to connect with the people you love.

  1. Use your hands.

Working with your hands, gadget-free, can be really therapeutic - especially nowadays. Making crafts, creating your own jewellery or sewing gives your mind a break from your everyday tasks and responsibilities, and allows you to focus your energy on something that nurtures creativity. Heck, even cleaning and cooking can be therapeutic!

Engaging in hands-on activities can be fun because it’s something you can do casually, without putting pressure on yourself to get it right or make it perfect. So bake that banana bread, paint a scenery, try making your own clothes or DIY your living space. You may even come to appreciate the way things are made, by trying to make them yourself!

  1. Escape with words.

There’s something kind of satisfying about going back to basics, like you’re rediscovering your roots. In the era of text messages and emails, why not try going back to the earliest forms of communication and information  - reading and writing? 

When was the last time you lost yourself in a good book? When real life gets a bit overwhelming, it can be exciting to slip into someone else’s skin and see life through their eyes. Books can do that for you. It can also broaden your horizon to experience something from another perspective, helping you get in touch with your emotions and even encourage empathy and understanding towards other people. Books are also a rich source of information, diving in-depth into certain topics and helping you gain more insight and knowledge on various subjects. 

As for writing, journaling can help you clear your thoughts and understand what it is you’re thinking or feeling, giving you clarity. It can provide an escape for something you’re not sure how to explain to other people. Journaling is a private practice just for yourself, when life gets a little too loud or confusing, or when you just don’t feel like talking to someone else about what you’re experiencing. It can provide you with relief. If you’re not sure how to start writing, you can search for “journal prompts” to help get you started.

So many people have reported mental fatigue and burnout throughout this pandemic. While there is no guaranteed solution to fix all our problems, these are just some ways that may help us cope and make our days a little easier to get through. We hope these suggestions are useful!


| Fiqah Roslan