Always listen to your body. Never ignore the things it’s telling you; it has important information that you need to know and acknowledge. Pay attention to its cues.
As a 21st Century society, we sit far too much. Beware of so-called “sitting disease,” also known as the “desk sentence.”
Constant sitting decreases your metabolism and is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
• Impairs your circulation
• Compresses vital fluids (such as lymphatic fluid) and impacts cell growth
• Leads to joint stiffness, low back pain, sciatica, hip pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain
Over-eating and obesity are distress signals from your body; don’t ignore them. The health risks from over-eating and obesity are numerous and widely reported. Mindless over-eating is often associated with excessive screen time.
Depriving yourself of sleep leads to cognitive impairment, a less efficient brain, over-eating, higher emotionality, increased anxiety, and delayed production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Many people are sleep deprived due to an inability to limit screen time.
As of 2020, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s population (2.6 billion) has myopia and that by 2050 it will affect half the global population. This short-sightedness is typically associated with excessive screen time and, in the worst cases, leads to blindness. Think I’m overstating the problem? Well, by 2050 myopia is projected to become the leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.
Our inability to unplug and disengage from our digital devices is causing widespread stress, anxiety and self-reported depression. At this point, many people are all too familiar with “Zoom fatigue” and the associated energy loss. Many people feel they have no autonomy to determine when to disconnect. They even wake up at night to check work emails and/or text messages.
This inability to disconnect has led to a lack of work/life balance, and longer work days that are uncompensated. This, in turn, has led to a long term loss of motivation.
The overuse of social media has also led to more radical emotions, such as fear and outrage. It’s even led to lower self-esteem and body image.
People are suffering from digital burnout and it’s little surprise that depression has risen. Researchers in a 2017 study found that adults who watched TV or used a computer for more than 6 hours per day were more likely to experience moderate to severe depression.
The pandemic only made the situation worse.
During the first year of the pandemic, April 2020-April 2021, the prevalence of people with depression or anxiety symptoms in America increased substantially — from about 11 percent of people in 2019 to close to 40 percent.
We leave ourselves little to no time to recover from our digital overload because almost everything in our lives revolves around screen time. Consider all the things that people now do online:
• Leisure/social media scrolling
Some of these activities amount to using tech to relax from too much tech, which has led to what is called the “digital fatigue paradox.” More engagement simply leads to more stress. This is digital burnout.
Give yourself a digital detox. Set aside time in the day when you check out and stop all screen time; give your eyes and brain a rest. Set a nighttime digital curfew. Turn off your phone at night and keep it off until the next morning. These aren’t novel ideas; this was normal, everyday life prior to the 21st Century.
Take the initiative to get up and move more. A four-year study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggest that getting up and moving around every 30 minutes could help you avoid some of the health woes that come with sitting all day.
Just set your phone alarm, Apple Watch or Fitbit to alert yourself to get up and move every 30 minutes (a paradox, huh?). It doesn’t need to be for more than a few minutes, but just the simple act of standing up and moving around will do you a lot of good.
Even if you exercise vigorously on multiple days of the week, taking a daily 30-minute walk has enormous health benefits and can prevent chronic disease as you age. Walking is good for us orthopedically; we are meant to move.
Just the simple act of walking also reduces stress, cheers you up (walking releases endorphins, your body’s happy hormones), and increases self-esteem. You’ll feel better about yourself just for doing it. And, if you leave your phone at home, it forces you to disconnect from screen time.
We have more control over our health destiny than we might realize. We just need to take the wheel and steer.