We live in a high-tech world where digital devices are always within reach.
Our smartphones keep us connected with friends and family. We use computers for work and study. We let off steam playing video games, binge on the latest Netflix series or curl up with an e-reader.
Technology is a helpful, inescapable and often necessary part of modern life.
So, while our minds are busy consuming content, what effect is it having on our bodies and physical wellbeing? There’s little point sugar-coating the answer. Excessive use of technology is hazardous to our health! Don’t worry too much though: the operative word here is excessive.
Read on because this is not just another online article telling you to ditch technology completely. Au contraire.
The benefits of technology are manifold, and indeed often help us to maintain good physical health (fitness tracker, step counters, sleep pattern monitors and water consumption trackers). As with many things, however, moderation is key.
With a few simple adjustments, you can prevent any long-term damage. DIGITAL LUXEMBOURG’s got your back (and eyes, neck, hands…) with these #DigitalWellbeing tips proven to help you enjoy all the benefits of technology, but not at the expense of your physical health.
Ever been warned as a child that “too much TV will make your eyes square”? While that might not be true, too much screen-time can indeed cause eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes and headaches.
- Control the scroll! Limit scrolling where possible to avoid eyestrain and having to constantly focus and refocus
- Give your eye muscles a break. Blink often.
- Look away from your screen for one full minute every 15 minutes - stare into the distance or fix your eyes on something green
- Adjust screen contrast and brightness depending on ambient light conditions
- Use an e-reader for long reads. Black text on a gray background reduces stress headaches
2) Back & Neck
It’s a common sight to see people slumped, hunched, slouched or “strunched” (a cross between a stretch and a hunch) over their phones, tablets or computers. We tend to round our backs and tilt our necks forward adding kilos of extra pressure at a 60-degree angle resulting in “Text Neck” and chronic back pain.
- Keep your phone at eye level.
- Whether standing or sitting, do your cervical spine a favor and don’t look down!
- Rest your elbows on something when texting. On your hand, knees, ribs, desk, bar – any surface will do
- Check your ergonomic desk posture: shoulders relaxed, lower back supported, feet flat on floor and you’re set for the next eight hours
Wherever you are right now, try adjusting your posture. Feel the difference?
3) Hands & Wrists
Swiping, scrolling, tapping, mousing, gaming, key hovering…our hands get a pretty intense daily workout. But these repetitive actions don’t make them stronger. Here’s how to alleviate pain and discomfort, and save yourself from “text claw” (which is only really acceptable when dancing to “Thriller”).
- At your desktop or laptop, keep elbows at 90 degrees and wrists straight as they rest on a surface
- Ease the pain pangs of “text claw” by alternating swiping thumbs and mousing hands
- Circle and stretch wrists regularly to reduce inflammation and keep them supple
- Use hands-free to make calls – it gives your hands and wrists a break…and you the chance to stretch them!
- Treat yourself to a vertical mouse
Fact: Thirty minutes of technology-free time prior to going to bed improves sleep quality. Studies show that the notorious blue light emitted from devices suppresses and delays the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone that controls the circadian rhythm. It stimulates our brains, making it more challenging to unwind, drop off and get a good night’s rest.
- Make the bedroom a tech-free zone and keep a book or two on your nightstand
- Get an alarm clock. The “but-I-need-my-phone-to-wake-me-up” excuse just left the bedroom
- Turn off your WiFi router at night. Some say electromagnetic radiation is a myth; studies prove otherwise. Either way, better safe than sorry and, if anything, it might just stop us from checking our emails at 3am
The combination of reducing screen-time, switching off and getting regular exercise can have amazing long-term effects on our overall health. It boosts our immune systems, enhances sleep quality, reduces stress and anxiety, increases happiness levels, kickstarts creativity and helps us live longer. Reason enough?!
- Get physical! It doesn’t have to be a marathon. Whatever you do, exercise energizes and reconnects us with the physical world
- Schedule gadget-free blocks of time (at the dinner table, on the way to work, while climbing up a mountain)
In this digital age, how do you keep your physical health in check? Share your tips with us!