By now, we have all recognized that sometimes we spend far too much time on our computers and other digital devices. This runs in contrast to the very core idea of the Paleo concept of sunshine, natural food and face-to-face socialization. So what can we do to help us spend a little less time in the digital realm and a little more time participating in healthier activities?
Today we’ll go over health tips about how to take breaks from social media, how to spend a little less time on the computer after work and how to get off your phone when enjoying a night out with friends. We’ll also talk about some of the ways you can be healthier while still using a digital device, and why exercise and less screen time is so very important in today’s world. There are many benefits to technology, as it allows us to enjoy music, movies and read – no matter where we are! This is certainly a positive thing – as long as it is kept within the right context and in appropriate amounts.
But let’s start with some statistics. Teens average between 8 and 13 hours of screen usage – per day! That’s a lot of screen time! People who spend more time in front of screens and less time outside have narrower blood vessels in their eyes. This has been linked to cardiovascular disease later in life. Since a lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic disease, it is a good idea to try and get away from the screens, and to get outside and exercise! Fresh air is beneficial for a variety of reasons, but trees will actually help to provide fresher air than you can get indoors – not to mention, you’ll reap the benefits of sun exposure and socialization.
Limiting Social Media: Cold Turkey or Baby Steps?
If you’re stuck on social media constantly, it may be a good idea to deactivate your account for a period of time – that will usually do the trick. If you have multiple accounts, you may want to deactivate all of them – or place a complete ban on all computer usage. This all depends on what you want to accomplish – and how much you value social media in regards to both work and play.
Less drastic measures would consist of setting a schedule for social media use – like only between 6:30 and 6:40 PM, for example. The less time spent on social media – the better. The only exception here is for web content managers – you literally have to be on social media! In this scenario, you can limit your personal and home use. If you have another computer-related job, you can set a goal of less than 30 minutes of computer time when at home. No matter what the scenario, we can always take steps to make things a little bit healthier!
How To Stop Your Friends From Being a Digital Buzzkill
Have you ever been on a date with someone, and they won’t stop looking at their phone? This nightmare scenario has likely happened to many of us, and is simply a sign of the times. But we do not ever want to be the person on their phone – so how do we avoid this? Well, one method is to simply leave your phone at home! Some may cite safety concerns, so in this scenario, you can put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode, which will stop it from interrupting you in the middle of dinner conversation. However, we should also remember back to merely a decade ago, when almost none of us had smartphones, and we didn’t get abducted or lost! The safety concerns often mentioned by people are sometimes just excuses to feed their digital addictions – don’t fall into this trap!
Your friends may be just as bad during nights out – so what can you do to stop them from being a digital buzzkill? You can distract them – for starters. But if they are truly addicted to their phones, they may not be able to stop using them. In these scenarios, you may need to text them the news that they are on their phone far too much – at least in social situations!
All kidding aside, you will likely have to pull your friend off to the side, and make sure that they are aware of just how much time they spend on a phone. They likely will already have noticed themselves, as they may have experienced pain in their neck, hands or wrists – common problems associated with too much texting and digital device use. Carpal tunnel syndrome is increasingly common among the world’s population – largely due to digital device overuse. Unfortunately, we will likely only see more and more health ailments come to pass, due to ever-increasing smartphone use and typing on computers.
The Easy Answer: Exercise
So what can you do instead of constantly watching YouTube videos? For one – start exercising! Those who are on digital devices constantly are typically more sedentary and less active. Science has shown that more exercise means better health outcomes, including better quality of life, better functional capacity and better mood. Exercise also results in vast molecular changes.
Exercise also leads to increased muscle tone, better glucose tolerance and lower stress levels. Not too shabby, for only a small daily time investment! Exercise also seems to help make you happier and smarter, according to scientific research. All of this is certainly preferable to spending time on your phone! If you have weight loss goals, exercise is certainly something you want to spend some time doing. You will also likely sleep better if you exercise regularly. Since too much screen time has also been linked to insomnia, this is a double-whammy. In fact, blue light exposure before bed has been shown to lead to decreased melatonin production – bad news for those who love a good night’s sleep!
(Related: 4 Tips for Better, More Satisfying Sleep)
But we can fight back! Exercise is one of the best ways to decrease stress and forces us off of our digital devices. It may even force us to socialize! What might come as more of a surprise here is that regular exercise actually helps us to think better – no small feat for just a 30 minute daily investment. So let’s see – we can be hunched over like digital Frankensteins – or we can be leaner, smarter and happier beasts? The choice is easy! However, because technology is so addicting, we sometimes have a hard time unplugging and getting away from it. Smartphones have certainly made the use of technology very pervasive – into even our most private moments. Is this progress?
Finding a Balance
Regardless of what we think of technology, the steps to not let it completely control our lives are very simple, and offer great rewards. You have to have some self-discipline, though, and when work and personal life are both on the same digital devices, it can become very difficult to separate what is needed and what is not. With the digital takeover in full swing, we are at an interesting crossroads for humanity. We must learn to find a proper balance between digital consumption and use, and more human interactions and activities.
But this all begins with you! You are in control of the choices you make, and what you choose to do with your time. The 1950s science fiction writers have certainly been proven correct with regard to how pervasive technology would become, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose our health in the process! You can fight back and keep your physical and mental health! If you are struggling to be motivated, think of all the benefits that exercise and socialization offer – it beats sitting indoors all day, every day!
Remember, you don’t have to be that cliché in the bar – the person who can’t seem to get off their phone. You can be outdoors running, hiking, or going for a walk in the sunshine (and maybe even listening to music on your digital device!) There is definitely a happy medium between technology and health – even if our caveman ancestors never logged on and signed in.