If you add up the hours you spend each day interacting with your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop or television, you may realize that you’re spending the majority of your waking life staring at a screen.
Sure, much of this screen time is useful or necessary, even sometimes enjoyable. But there are a lot of other times when our screens distract us from things that are truly important to us—whether it’s the people we love or the activities that bring us meaning and joy.
So let’s take back our lives from our screens by balancing screening time and real lifetime.
When we make a mistake at work, we replay it in our head for days or even weeks? This kind of overthinking is called rumination, and it can lead to serious anxiety.
To break out of the cycle, there are a few things we can do. For one, identify the rumination triggers. Do certain types of people, projects, or decisions make us second-guess ourselves? Notice when (and why) a situation is causing to start overthinking things. And try avoiding it for some time till we are back to normal.
It can also be useful to distance from negative thoughts by labeling them as thoughts or feelings. For example, instead of saying “I’m inadequate,” we can say “I’m feeling like I’m inadequate.” These labels can help us distinguish what we’re experiencing from who we truly are as a person and an employee.
Another way to short-circuit rumination is to distract ourselves. When our brain won’t stop spinning, try taking a walk, meditate, workout or fill out an expense report — do any simple activity to focus on for a few minutes.
With practice, we can overcome the rumination and get back to our productive selves.
We are often told to pursue work we’re passionate about, but for many people, this simply isn’t feasible. Luckily, research shows that doing something you care about outside of work can benefit both your personal life and your career. Look for ways to craft your job to allow for more time for non-work passions.
For example, if you have some autonomy over your hours, start your day early to make more time in the evening for cultivating other interests. These extracurricular activities can be a way to develop skills, meet new people, or decompress. To find the right activities, ask yourself what you care about that you haven’t been able to pursue in your job. Outside of work, you have the freedom to try new things out, so experiment.
Remember that passions can wax and wane over time, and it’s okay to stop one activity and pick up another. Find other people who care deeply about your shared interest so you can build a sense of community.
Only a privileged few are able to match their passion to their job, but leading a full life outside of work allows us to bring our best selves to the office — or anywhere we go.