When was the last time you completely disconnected from all electronics and just had some quiet time? It’s pretty shocking … the amount of time we spend using a piece of technology. Whether it is our phones, computers, or something random out in public, we are so reliant on technology and so stimulated by it all the time it is no wonder it is affecting our health. Many people don’t realize that there are major health risks when you spend too much time staring at a screen.
Every time you get a notification, text message, or spend time surfing the web seeing cute animal pictures, your brain gets a hit of dopamine and serotonin. Those are the chemicals that are linked to the feeling of happiness. Over time, a user can become addicted and unable to go more than an hour without looking at his/her phone. There even is a name for it: nomophobia, the fear of being without or not being able to use your mobile device.
The way we curve our neck to look at our phones can cause the back to become hunched. Because, over-stretching your back muscles, weakening your pectoral muscles, and rounding your shoulders can lead to all sorts of problems such as pressure on your spinal discs that could lead to herniation, slips, and arthritis. This can also cause neck pain, back pain, nerve damage, and tension headaches. You will also look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Prolonged exposure to light emitted by a phone or computer can cause damage to your retina and muscular degeneration. This can be caused by constant scrolling and eye movement you use when looking at your phone. Your ears are also at risk because of headphones; listening to music too loudly can cause damage to the tiny hairs and tubes in your ears.
Is it time for a break? Taking time away from screens and electronics can help reduce side effects and get you back on track with your focus, sleep, and even put you in a better mood.
Because you don’t have the added distraction of your phone or social media, you will be able to hold your focus much longer. You won’t be distracted by lights, beeping, and other noises coming from your phone.
You will be more in tune with the people around you. You can stare at the person you are talking to rather than ignore him/her when you’re looking at a screen. Who knows, you might even build a stronger connection.
If you answer your phone at 2 a.m., then you are teaching people that you are available 24/7. That can be bad for your health. You’ll have interrupted sleep, disruptions during meal time, and never having time to wind down. Plus, you don’t want to give the impression that you have no other life but work.
A constant stream of ads, information, and media content can cause a lot of mental stress. If you’re constantly in need of being in the loop, you can develop anxiety and fear that you’re missing out when you aren’t online. Plus, constantly comparing yourself to the people you see online can lower self-esteem and confidence levels. Most of that media has been altered by someone, so it isn’t a real representation of what’s really going on. By taking a step back from devices, you can force yourself to stop comparing yourself and start living in the moment. This, in turn, can help make new healthier habits in the brain cutting down on stress, anxiety, and depression.
Screens (TV, cell phones, tablets, etc) emit a constant stream of blue that tricks your brain into thinking that it is noon! So, if you use your devices at night, you are taking away from your bodies natural winding-down time. Also, any light or sound that your device makes in the middle of the night can disrupt your rem sleep and cause you to have a poor night’s sleep.
When we unplug, switch off, and set down all our electronics, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. So how does a digital detox work?
Turn off all electronic devices and store them away. Don’t just put them on silent, turn them off and put them in a drawer so you don’t have any temptation to check them. Have one day a week with no devices, even wearable ones.
Set limits on phone use before bed for yourself and for family members. For a better sleep, have 2 hours of technology-free time before bed.
Put your phone away when you’re eating. Even if you’re alone. This is a good time to practice mindful eating and take a break from checking your email and social networks. Plus, you will build stronger bonds with family, friends, and partners, when you are 100%, focused on them and not your device.
Set limits on when you’re available. Let people and colleagues know that you have a personal life and you value it. If you’re at home and working at 8 p.m. answering emails, that makes people think that they can always get you, even when it’s inappropriate. Sooner or later they will call you at 2 a.m. expecting that you will respond. Set limits during the day and at night when you’re not available.
Find pleasure outside of electronic devices. Doing other things besides watching TV, playing video games, or looking at your social profiles can make taking a break from technology easier. Spend time with friends, family, or your partner without your phones. There is no need to take pictures or let the whole world know where you are every time you go out. Pay attention to your humans and not your phone.
Take a break, talk to people, enjoy the human experience … not the digital one.