Many of us are feeling tired, stressed, or emotionally flat from shrinking our life down to screens on Zoom, Skype, or other video meetings. More than ever, due to social distancing in Covid-19 we’re staring at screens all day on our phone, tablet, or computer.

We’re losing our sense of being human. We’re becoming like digital people.

We can see and hear each other on a video call but we can’t touch and it’s really hard to feel each other’s heart or spirit.

One study found that 93% of what we communicate is nonverbal—it comes through how our body talks to others with our eyes, face, tone of voice, and gestures. To put all this body talk into a little square of video on a phone or computer, while looking at other little video squares, takes a ton of energy and intentionality.

On Zoom we see a lot of blank faces, slouching bodies, or fidgetiness. It’s unnerving. On the other side of the screen, some of us are working really hard to communicate personal warmth, cheerfulness, and care. It can feel discouraging.

Too much time on screens is harmful. It produces eye strain, headaches and backaches, stress disease, exhaustion, emptiness of soul, loss of humanity, craving touch, and feeling distant from God. (See our Soul Talks podcast on “Help for Screen Fatigue.”)

God created us from dirt and breath to be embodied souls who relate to him. We’re designed to physically be together in a garden and by sharing in meaningful work (Genesis 2:7-8).

What does this look like practically? In our digital world how can we join with Jesus to renew our souls and love each other?

Here are seven ways to limit your screen time and renew your soul:

7 Tips for Screen Fatigue

    1. Stand or move. Be careful not to get hunched over your phone or computer. Put your shoulders back, stand during a call, or change locations.
    2. Breathe fresh air. Being in nature is the best antidote to being stuck in a digital world. It’s as simple as stepping outside to take a deep breath as you enjoy looking into the sky or smelling a flower.
    3. Touch. If you live with a loved one or have a pet focus more on sharing loving touches.
    4. Self-soothing. Have you heard of “havening”? It’s a simple practice of gently swirling your fingers under and over your eyes, down your arms, and on your hands. As you do this imagine Jesus touching you in love, as he often does in the Gospels.
    5. Enjoy a Soul Talk. Call a friend on the phone or take a socially distanced walk together and share your hearts and prayers.
    6. Name emotions. Describe your feelings to a friend, in your journal, or through prayer and ask for the empathy you need.
    7. Abide in prayer. Slowly repeat simple prayers of the heart. We like to do this with phrases of Scripture and breathing the words in and out. (See “Breath Prayer Guides.”)

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Listen to today’s SoulTalk: Technology is a gift in this season of social distancing, but it can also cause physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. God made us to connect in embodied ways and even though you can be doing good spiritual work over your screen, it takes a toll on our soul. Bill and Kristi offer practical and insightful habits and tools to integrate into your screen time to help you connect in more soulful ways with others and with God.

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