A Telephone Is Your Friend, but a Tablet Can Betray You

Welcome. A couple of newsletters ago I asked you to tell us how you were doing, and how we might help. That’s a central tenet of our world here At Home, where we seek to make life a little more bearable, a little fuller, a little more interesting, even as the pandemic continues to swirl and we find ourselves at home more than perhaps ever before.

The responses were revealing: We’re not having much fun, any of us, and we’re worried for the fall. We have a lot of questions about that. I thought I’d take on one today and more in the coming ones:

What we struggle with is excessive screen time for online learning and work calls. When we need a mental escape, we watch movies. It’s getting to the point that we don’t want to conference call with friends and family because we are burned out. What is the refresher-reset for this? A book? Staring at a wall?

It might be a book, but I find at the end of a day of screen time that sometimes books are hard to read. The letters swim around. I find myself trying to click on words. It’s easier to stare at the wall. (Staring at a wall can be an interesting practice. Concentrate on your breathing. It’s meditation.) In truth, though, the best reset I’ve found is to use your telephone to make an actual telephone call. This removes the weird technological newness of video technology (“You’re on mute!”) and returns you to high school, when you could easily talk with a friend for an hour. I emerge from those calls refreshed and ready for another day of screens.

More good advice for living a good life at home right now is below. Please let us know what you’d like to know: athome@nytimes.com.

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