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Online fatigue is a state of mental and/or emotional exhaustion that materializes among people who spend considerable time using different digital tools – often for continuous periods of time.
The frequent use of these platforms might involve the management of your educational activities and information across different platforms and (perhaps) devices. Maintaining communication with teachers, other faculty members, and fellow learners, writing online exams, socializing with family and friends, etc.
And of course, remote working has allowed students and professionals in different industries across the world to keep safe from the dreadful Covid-19 epidemic. It’s also presented us with flexible hours, increased productivity, and time to do other things in our lives. On the other hand, it has changed the way we connect with each other, our relationship with work and has surely catapulted the use of screens to a whole new level.
It’s the nature of the beast nicknamed ‘20-Plenty’, and the digital era.
Needless to say, if not used with the objective of finding a healthy balance, technology can invade our lives in ways that undermine our well-being.
Internet connectivity, as the necessary equalizer of opportunity that it is, doesn’t have to be a threat to our minds. And in the spirit of encouraging health, here are four ways to mitigate the effects of this type of fatigue:
First, start being aware of your screen time
It’s fairly easy to power up the phone to read emails and end up surrendering to the bottomless social media feed. Done for a long time, the habit carries the potential to shift priorities and negate the depth of your personal interactions with people and the world around you. Hence it’s important to keep track of how and which platforms you spend most of your time.
It’s become essential to ask: what type of impact are my online activities having on the quality of my life?
Take-away: Track the screen-time on your phone. For iOS, you’ve got Screen Time Settings and on Android, there’s the Google’s Digital Wellbeing toolkit. And there are plenty of apps that can help in that regard as well.
Get more sleep
The experience of studying through learning management systems makes it easy to work through study material at any time of the day.
And when sleep falls off your daily routine due to academic, social, and extracurricular activities, so too does intellect and memory. Getting sufficient sleep helps with the processing of information (which, let’s face it, you have to do all the time) and restores our mental and physical abilities.
Take-away: Try cutting off the use of devices an hour or two before bedtime, and avoid bringing your phone or computer to the bedroom.
Learn again to live fully in the present
At some point or another, we’ve been guilty of pulling out our phones when we experience remarkable – and sometimes awkward – moments. It could be while having lunch with a friend we haven’t seen for a long time, at a party or other type of occasion that we feel needs to be documented.
However, there’s value in living life without yearning to record and publish everything for the world to see. You could also take it a step further and leave your phone behind, except when you’re on standby for an important call or message.
Allan Watts reminds us: “One fine day, you’ll realise that there is no way at all of having your mind anywhere else but in the present moment. Because even when you think about the past or the future you’re doing it now, don’t you?”
Take-away: Remind yourself all the time that life is transient and there’s nothing more important to fuss over than the present moment.
Look after yourself
Setting time aside for you is important. Especially because the boundaries between work and relaxation have gone blurred. Our personal and professional lives come embedded with countless hours of screen-time.
As a result, dedicating time to self-care isn’t always easy to do. And as we’ve established, most of us are witlessly busy with schoolwork and are absorbed with technology to set aside time for ourselves. So quality me-time is normally pushed to last on the agenda. The other thing, we may feel guilty about prioritising the time needed to take decent care of ourselves.
Take-away: Eat wholesome meals, exercise frequently, travel, revisit a hobby, and say no to commitments that leave you burnt out. When your mind, emotions and overall health are in sound balance, it frees up energy to ace your studies and feel on top of the world while doing it.
Taking time to establish a balance between being a digital native and diligently attending to ‘offline duties’ will help you stay grounded and healthy as you build your career.