What is the real Grinch of Christmas?
What a wonderful time of year!
… where we all get together with family and friends to spend most of our time staring into the never ending abyss that is our phones.
It’s not so much intentional at this point, but more like a really bad habit, okay it’s probably an addiction but let’s not argue over semantics.
If you ever feel the season is too short or you come away feeling unfulfilled, like something was missing or didn’t quite live up to your expectations, then perhaps this empty feeling of not “Capturing the season” was because you weren’t present during it.
Half focusing isn’t focusing
When we are on our phones, we enter a trance, we become fixated on checking just.one.more.thing. I call them quick checks where I tell myself it’s okay to just quick check one more email, take a spin through Instagram, or watch three TikToks (but that’s it!), maybe it’s another glance at the weather, or a quick check of the headlines and before I know it I’m right back to another round of quick checks.
Well the problem with this little jaunt into our own Narnia is we completely miss what’s going on around us. We are only half-engaged with conversations, we half-see what someone is trying to show us, we are half-thinking about what to say next, we are half-watching, half-listening, half-caring, and FULLY missing the moments that matter.
How your screen time equals two months of the year lost to your phone
The Guardian had a great article whereby the writer compared their daily screen time with that of their friends and it ranged from 2hr 20min to 6hr per day. Of course this doesn’t account for all your devices, so if you’re on your laptop, computer, iPad, and phone throughout the day….you could easily be hitting that target before noon!
Confession: I have seen my daily screen average as high as 11hours a day. That number is so far beyond shameful; I’m almost impressed with my ability to literally spend an ENTIRE day on my phone. I think I’ll commission my tombstone to be the shape of an iPhone.
Research from RescueTime, an app used to monitor phone use, found the daily smartphone average to be 3hr 15min per day. That equates to 50 days per year (49.42 to be exact). That’s nearly two full months on your phone!
Happy New Year because you only have 10 months to get everything done before wasting away the final two months scrolling through Pinterest boards.
How to Calculate the Number of Days a Year you Spend on your Phone
To find the number of days a year you will spend online using your current daily screen time numbers, you can do this bit of math:
Number of daily screen time hours x 365 days
Number of screen time minutes divide by 60, then multiply that number by 365
Then add the minutes result with the first result to get your total hours spent on your device during a year
To find the number of days, take your yearly hour total (previous number) and divide by 24 (hours per day).
The result equals the number of days you spend on your phone during a year.
While writing this article, a quick check of my current screen time per day is 3 hours 53minutes (I took this in the middle of the afternoon, plenty of time left in the day – yikes!)
3 hours x 365 days = 1095 hours on my screen in a year
53 mins / 60 min = 0.8 hrs x 365 days = 292 hours on my screen in a year
1095 + 292 = 1387 total hours in a year
1387 / 24 hours in a day = 59 days!!
Here’s another example to show how the difference a few more minutes of “quick checks” can result in a whole lot more lost time (hope that weather check was worth knowing)
2 hours 20 mins a day on your phone will equate to 35 days a year
2 x 365 = 730
20 / 60 = 0.3 x 365 = 121.67
730 + 121.67 = 851.67
851.67 / 24hrs per day = 35 days!
What are the negative effects of screen time
Now that you see the almost criminal amount of time taken from us during the year because of what’s on our phones, let’s remind ourselves of the other ways screen time affects our health and well-being.
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased productivity
- Structural changes in the brain where parts of your brain literally atrophy
- Strained Eyes, joint pains, sore muscles
- Weight gain
- Lower capacity to feel empathy and compassion
- A general feeling of blahness, low motivation – lethargy – that is caused from being sedentary, staring down and consuming as opposed to consuming with intent.
You already know these things, and until it affects you more severely, you kinda don’t care.
You’re reading this blog article right now, right? Instead, you could be inhaling the fresh air while walking to the post office to mail the handmade gifts and cards you’ve planned to make for the past three years, after mastering your Oma’s Orange Spice Cake <link>, and folding the towels in your guest bathroom into little Christmas trees <link>.
But, if you did the math and the number of hours spent looking at a screen shocks you and has prevented you from enjoying well… life, then check out the suggested screen free alternatives you can do this holiday season as a way to stay connected with what you value during the holidays.
Ideas for Adults to stay entertained that don’t involve a phone
I’m feeling active…
Get physical. Play squash, work on those yoga positions you’ve wanted to perfect for awhile now, life weights, bike for 30 mins, run, jump, hop, skip – shake your booty
Go swimming or if you live near an indoor waterpark or wave pool suit up and do some laps or better yet organize a water polo game with friends. Or just go to relax in the steam room.
Go to a concert, play or comedy show
Bowling, laser tag, rock climbing, escape room, ax throwing, trampolining – these are all fun ways to spend an evening or afternoon that don’t involve watching someone else do it on Instagram.
Pick up a holiday tree
Change of scenery, you deserve it. Book a last minute trip across the country or to another country (albeit not as easy as it once was). This is a pretty grande suggestion, but if you have the means to do it and you feel stagnated by being at home then spice it up with a weekend getaway. Stay at a nice hotel, head to the mountains, fly to Hawaii! Being in a new place offers lots of opportunity to see and do things differently – just try to resist the temptation of seeing it through your phone
Play in the snow and embrace winter by going skating, snowshoeing or sledding
Get holiday outfits ready or make an ugly Christmas sweater
I just want to chill…
Coloring Books are super fun and relaxing. Take an hour, pick up some cute pens, pencils, markers and color the world baby!
Gardening / Indoor plants – plant herbs, succulents, make a terrarium, hang some beautiful planters.
Build a model. Car, ship, motorcycle, a pair of Adidas sneakers. Model kits can be made of plastic, Lego, paper, and should certainly keep you busy for a few hours.
Make ice cream. It’s surprisingly easy and can be made a couple of different ways depending on how much of an arm workout you want.
Wrap gifts and prepare them to be mailed – this takes a surprisingly long time
Embroider, needle point a holiday design and give as gifts. Super cute designs can be found online.
Watercolor or acrylic painting is a relaxing way to tap into your creative side. Plus if it’s nice, use it as decor, or gift it!
Bedazzle all the things – like tumblers, shoes, Laboutain heels, a backpack, bracelet, keychain. Everything looks amazing with a touch of sparkle!
Play with playdoh. Buy the fancy box with intricate, advanced playdoh designs like burgers, ice cream, hair salons or practice your dentistry skills by recreating teeth. See how well you can make each piece in comparison to the images shown on the box.
Grab a coffee from your local Starbucks or coffee shop. Pick up your favorite Gingerbread syrup while you’re there to recreate holiday lattes for friends and family at home
Bake fancy desserts you can give as gifts
Create your own advent calendar
Make Christmas Cards
Read a Christmas Book, there are many great fiction and non-fiction books directly related to Christmas or choose one you promised you’d read this year
Update your budget for the new year
Decorate a Gingerbread House. Make it from scratch, buy a kit, it’s all good.
Make a Christmas craft like a wreath for the front door ..maybe make it out of pompoms!
A little mix of everything…
Donate 25 items you don’t use. Go through closets, drawers, bins, baskets and the basement to find items you haven’t used this year. Ask yourself if you want to see the same item in your space this time next year and if you cannot visualize yourself needing it or using it, time to share its use with others.
Have friends over for lattes
Paint a wall or piece of furniture
Hot chocolate and Christmas lights. Resist the temptation to capture this experience for the ‘gram and take in the beauty of the lights. Besides, those pics never turn out how you want them to anyway.
Bake Bread like one of those sourdough loaves with cool designs.
Run all your errands. If you’re on your phone a lot, it’s safe to assume a few errands have piled up. It will feel AMAZING to have these little tasks crossed off your list.
Go for a sleigh ride to reward how amazing you are.
Mind, Body, Spirit…
Learn or dust off an instrument. Music is good for the soul. Take up those piano lessons or pull out that wildly expensive guitar you promised you’d master back in 2016. There is no time like the present and it won’t take you as long as you think to learn a basic tune.
New Hobby! Basically you’re replacing your current hobby (scrolling through the internet) with one that will give you self-esteem, bragging rights and could potentially make you money.
Massages, facials, manicures – go to a spa for the afternoon
Make cocktails and have friends over to sample them – <check out this idea for a cocktail parties here>
Make smoothie bags for post-Christmas when you don’t feel like cooking and need to break the snacking cycle.
Sing and dance to Christmas carols – turn on the record player and spend an hour jiving to all the classics
‘Tis the season to volunteer and help give those who who need a bit of hope, positivity and cheer. Find an organization that resonates with you and spend a few hours or days out of the holiday lending a hand. It’s great to think outside of ourselves and it goes a long way in bringing happiness to others
Puzzles – brain teasers, wooden puzzles, intricate puzzles tap into our problem solving and analytical sides. Keeps the mind sharp.
Drop and give yourself 10. When you feel the urge to use your phone – stop and do 10 push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, burpies, or squats (or all of them!) If it’s true we pick up our phone 58 times per day, then by the end of the season you’ll be fitter, leaner, and won’t even need to make resolutions!
Clean your home. A good cleaning truly is good for the mind, body and soul – it literally keeps you healthy.
Don’t be a slave to your phone – you’re better than that
If you find yourself frustrated, unfulfilled or rushed throughout the holidays, there could be a number of reasons for these feelings such as doing too many things not inline with your holiday values, acting against your love language, or spending too much time on your phone.
The time spent scrolling through mindless rabbit holes is robbing you of the precious time you have to live your best life.
Take a look at a calendar for this upcoming year and block off two months of “screen only time” because that’s what the average person loses in a year . By doing even a few of these activities, you’ll get back to owning your life.
Stay woke – Merry Happy Holidays