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Green Time Over Screen Time

These days, it’s a real struggle to limit our screen time. It requires discipline and seems nearly impossible when we live at our desktops at work. We depend on technology to connect us to the people back home and enable us to order from Ubereats because we haven’t been grocery shopping recently. 

Living in a city as buzzing as Tokyo, we find it especially hard to separate ourselves from our devices. The in-your-face advertisements lighting up every public space and the never-ending scrolling on Instagram take a toll on us. Our growing dependency on technology makes it even harder to detach from the intoxicating glow of our screens.

It was much easier back then…

Nature was my thing and still is. I’m often consumed by the creatures and beauty around me. As an elementary school student, I’d hop off at the bus stop near the first street we lived on, a couple blocks from my house. It was a long, uphill trek for little legs. I was that kid who’d always stop and crouch over the never-ending trails of determined ants. Back then, I was really good at stopping to smell the roses!

My parents made sure we had a lot of time outdoors. Lucky for me, I grew up before smartphones and tablets. On top of that, my very active parents valued hands-on playtime and outdoor activities. We didn’t own any video games until my later years in high school, and we never had cable TV until after I left the nest. Being a recalcitrant teenager, I was indignant when restricted from the things my friends all seemed to have. Looking back on it now, I understand that those decisions were made in my best interest. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

During our frequent stroller rides, my sis and I were spoiled with beautiful views. My mom and her girlfriends chatted and pushed us up the steep winding road on the mountain near our home. When my sister was an infant, she’d ride in the baby backpack strapped to my dad’s back while he pushed me in the stroller and jogged around town. Not only did we get a lot of sunshine and stimulation, but our parents also reaped the benefits of being buff!

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Trip to Matsumoto with the ‘rents

When screen time takes over…

As I’ve matured and my priorities have shifted, I’ve lost touch with my connection to nature and its immense impacts on my mental and physical well-being. 

Owning a smartphone became my way of staying in the loop and gaining instant gratification through notifications and likes. Those immediate dopamine hits are hard to resist! Not until recently have I truly realized the value of being apart from our beloved gadgets. 

Juan and I like the concept of “green time over screen time.” We are working to better implement it into our daily regimens. It’s a great way to connect with ourselves, each other, and all the beauty that surrounds us— the perfect opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to be here at all.

 Reflecting on my childhood helps me recall and reincorporate what has always mattered to me. Since being outdoors helps me reset, I try to get at least one quick stroll in.

You don’t have to be a “tree hugger.”

Even if you don’t consider yourself the most in tune with nature, you can still benefit from unplugging and getting some sunshine. 

I’ve found that my mood improves, and I feel more balanced when I’m freed from the digital world and exposed to the natural one. Appreciating nature also reminds me to connect with myself and slow down, in contrast to the symphony of persistent beeps, bleeps, and blorps and reminders of what I should be doing.

Not excited about leaving the comforts of your home these days? If you have the option, why not change rooms to get a change of scenery at some point in the day? Take a moment to take in the view from your window, spend a few solid minutes stretching, or brew a killer cup of tea. As for many things in life, I think the key is to find what works for you. 

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A walk along the river to one of our neighborhood treasures

Are you looking to spend less time in front of the screen?

What are some other ways you can spend that time?

Would love to hear how you add balance to your day. Let’s exchange ideas and keep working on them together!

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