IT’S TIME FOR A DIGITAL WELLNESS INTERVENTION

Healthy living is so much more than what you eat and how much you work out. It encompasses your entire life. Healthy living is going to the dentist, flossing your teeth, seeing your doctor for an annual checkup and managing your stress levels. It’s your relationships, and your mindset.

There are people that “eat clean” and exercise seven days a week that are not healthy at all because of obsessive behaviours, lack of quality relationships and poor recovery. A healthy lifestyle is about living a balanced lifestyle: Food, exercise, and even your screen time.

WHAT IS DIGITAL WELLNESS?

Digital wellness is the level of healthy habits associated with our digital usage. Do we use social media and the internet as a tool to do business and connect to friends, or do we let it become a time-suck that takes us further away from our goals and personal relationships? Look at your usage honestly and objectively and decide for yourself: How strong is your digital wellness?

A lot of us are obsessed with our phones. Did you know that most urban Indians check our phone updates eighty times a day! What started innocently enough with technological advances could be hurting our long term health, both mentally and physically. Mentally we get addicted to checking our phones. It affects our attention span when our brains get used to being stimulated every couple of minutes (or seconds!). You’ll notice you have a harder time sitting down and focusing on long term projects.

But physically? The blue light emitting from our screens can mess with our circadian rhythm which affects the quality of our sleep. When you have poor sleep quality or quantity it can lead to health problems.

Most of our body’s repair processes happen during sleep, so diminished sleep quality leads to reduced results from our fitness efforts. If we are not recovering properly, we’re not getting stronger or faster, and if we keep pushing without adequate recovery, it leads to overtraining, sickness, and injury.

Lack of sleep can cause hormone imbalance, can make you feel hungrier which can lead to overeating and possible weight gain or difficulty losing weight. If you’re not paying attention, your phone habit could be affecting your health in tangible ways.

5 WAYS TO REDUCE PHONE USAGE

The obvious solution is to reduce unproductive phone usage, but we’ve become addicted, so it’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are some strategies to limit phone time. As in any new habit, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Don’t throw your phone into the ocean or revert to a flip phone, work to reduce screen time a bit, then a little bit more. Work in stages until your screen time is at a healthy level.

  • Try a digital detox
    Can you turn your phone off entirely for a weekend? Too scary? How about a whole day? Or in the evenings after six? After an extended break from your phone, you might feel separation anxiety, but after a while, your head will feel clearer.
  • Make it inconvenient
    Social media is right at our fingertips. It’s easy to check for updates every ten minutes all day long. Make it slightly more inconvenient to check your phone. Turn it off (or place in air plane mode) when you’re not using it (turn it on to check occasionally throughout the day). Delete social media apps from your phone. Keep it out of sight when working, put it away in a drawer or behind a cabinet door. Keep it plugged into the wall while at home so that if you want to look at social media, you have to stand close to the plug, rather than to relax on the couch or in bed.

  • Limit social media usage
    Social media is not the devil. It’s an integral part of doing business for some people. Use your social media time strategically, so a post that is work-related, or to connect with friends, doesn’t turn in two hours of cat videos or epic fails on YouTube. Set a timer on your phone for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Replace phone time with a healthier habit
    Developing healthy habits is the core of any lifestyle choice. It’s how you learned to eat healthy and exercise without relying on daily motivation or willpower. The best way to change a bad habit is the replace it with something healthier, yet similarly satisfying.Find other ways to pass the time: Take a walk, read a book, call a friend, write a letter; Tell someone how much you appreciate them, write a gratitude list, work towards your goals. Just imagine how much you could accomplish if you work towards your goals eighty times a day.
  • Turn off your phone three hours before bed
    Three hours? That seem like a lot, right? But this simple step can improve percentage of deep sleep you get each night, an important factor for health. You are trading meaningless scrolling for better health. Limiting screen time at night is vital for improving the quality of your sleep. It may feel like scrolling your phone at night before bed is relaxing, but you could be sacrificing deep sleep for your phone hobby. There are healthier ways to unwind at night. Don’t watch movies, TV, or scroll social media in bed. Keep the bed for what God intended—sleep and sex. Most people use their phone as their alarm clock. Don’t charge your phone in the bedroom. When the alarm goes off, you’re forced to get out of bed and go into another room to turn it off, which can help reduce the snooze button usage too, which relates back to better quality sleep.

Let’s improve our digital wellness together. You don’t have to implement every strategy at once, that would be too overwhelming. If you think you spend too much time on your phone, and not enough time working towards goals or spending meaningful time with loved ones, or if you need to improve your sleep quality, choose one option from the list and implement it. Then another, then another, over time we can improve our lifestyles with a more a balanced approach to our digital use.

 

Chandra Gopalan

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30 Apr, 2019

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