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Some research has made a connection between screen time and mental health. While technology can be an effective tool for communication, collaboration, and virtual support, there are risks, especially when it’s overused. Reducing screen time is tough nowadays, but doing so may help improve your mental health and benefit your overall recovery progress. However, before doing that, some may wonder what the connection is between screen time and mental health. You may also want to learn more about those potential benefits. 

Of course, there are also benefits to using technology throughout recovery. Today, along with discussing the benefits of reducing screen time, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of technology for addiction recovery. Meanwhile, for those still in active addiction, don’t wait any longer to begin your recovery journey. Contact West Coast Recovery Centers to get started today. 

Addiction Treatment During the Age of Technology

Battling addiction in the age of technology can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, technology can be an excellent tool that connects you with friends, family, peers, and other members of your support system. It can be a great way to connect with a therapist, access recovery resources, and even gain inspiration to stay sober through social media. However, there’s also a darker side to technology as it pertains to addiction treatment. 

While it’s necessary to call out how technology is helpful, it’s just as critical to call out where it falls short. Technology can be triggering. It. can sustain toxic relationships that may put your recovery at risk. Furthermore, it can harm your mental health when you’re spending more time with your nose on your phone than out in the real world. 

Ultimately, technology is a tool, and its positive or negative consequences are essentially caused by how we use it. So, how can we ensure we use it to reduce relapse and augment our recovery journeys? 

Can Technology Reduce Relapse and Augment Addiction Recovery?

Words like technology and screen time are pretty general terminology. Generalized language like this groups all forms of technologies, apps, and digital tools together, regardless of positive or negative connotations. That’s why it’s helpful to call out positive ways technology or screen time can aid the recovery journey. Specifically, it helps to call out what digital tools may help you avoid triggers. 

Some tools that may aid in your recovery journey include: 

  • 12-Step companion apps that provide connection and resources 
  • Apps that track mood, sleep, fitness, or overall recovery progress 
  • Psychoeducation apps that facilitate your continued education about recovery 
  • Communication apps that connect you with peers and recovery groups  
  • Telehealth apps where you can access virtual mental health services 

Tools such as these create positive effects. For many, these tools make all the difference in getting from one day in recovery to the next. However, while it’s essential to highlight the positive outcomes, it’s also critical to know the risks associated with technology and screen time. 

Risks of Technology and Not Reducing Screen Time

Of course, the risks of technology and screen time are not specific to mental health. There are also physical and physiological risks, such as: 

  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • High blood pressure 
  • Poor stress regulation 
  • Impaired social skills 
  • Eye problems 

However, we must also recognize the risks to our mental well-being. The term internet addiction has been identified in the DSM-5 since 2013. Individuals have been wondering how screen time plays a role in the increasing rates of suicide, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions we’re seeing today. 

Many of these concerns pertain to social media and how it influences mental health. Unfortunately, the more time we spend on social media feeds, the more we judge and criticize ourselves. Ultimately, this leads many to use substances to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, which can quickly lead to dependency. 

The best way to reduce these risks is by reducing screen time, but what exactly does that mean? 

How Can You Start Reducing Screen Time?

Reducing screen time may seem impossible nowadays. Most of us have office jobs. These jobs require us to be at a computer for at least eight hours daily. When calculating the time spent on social media, playing games, watching TV, or even speaking to people virtually, it’s clear, we spend too much time in front of a screen. 

Though it seems hopeless, you can start reducing or improving your screen time by: 

  • Investing in a pair of blue light glasses. 
  • Ensuring your screen is a safe distance away from your eyes. 
  • Prioritizing time away from the screen by walking on your breaks or walking away from the computer for at least one minute hourly. 
  • Setting a time limit on your phone to reduce screen time after working hours. 
  • Consider deleting social media accounts or deleting social networks from your phone. 
  • Starting a new hobby that gets you away from a screen and out into the world.  
  • Purchasing an alarm clock and keeping electronics out of your bedroom. 
  • Stopping screen time at least two hours before bedtime. 

Moreover, taking steps such as these to reduce your screen time can: 

  • Improve sleep 
  • Reduce eye strain 
  • Increase self-esteem 
  • Decrease anxiety 
  • Enhance focus and productivity 
  • Improve symptoms of mental health conditions 
  • Reduce triggers and cravings 

Reducing screen time can be instrumental in improving your overall physical and mental well-being, as it forces you to get out, get moving, and be present in every day-to-day moment. Consider this when designing your recovery plan, and contact West Coast Recovery Centers for additional support today. 

It’s funny what small things can help us in our recovery journey. Sometimes, those small things in combination help us manage cravings, avoid triggers and relapse, and improve our overall well-being. However, practicing these small things can sometimes be challenging. For instance, reducing screen time can be an exceptional way to improve mental health, but doing so, even if it’s a few small adjustments, isn’t always easy. Nevertheless, we have the utmost confidence that you can take the necessary steps toward reducing your screen time today, to improve your mental health, reduce symptoms of mental health conditions, and help you with triggers and cravings. To learn more, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 today.