How Technology Impacts Your Health
I recently had the opportunity to completely disconnect from technology while on my honeymoon in Greece (the perfect time to do it, tbh). I have heard the benefits of technology detoxes touted for so long that I figured I would finally give it a shot. Although I sporadically logged onto WiFi to assure my mom that I was okay and to post a few pictures of the trip, I was otherwise entirely disconnected.
Considering I work a 9 to 5, blog & run an online coaching business, it was probably long overdue that I disconnected for a while. I have to admit, all of the hype was completely spot on. After reading an article about how comedian Aziz Ansari deleted the internet from his phone and reflecting on my own experience in technology detox mode, I decided to dig a little deeper. I got curious about how technology affects your health; not just the downside of tech, but the benefits, too. Here is what I found:
The upside to technology & your health:
- Technology can help you learn more about yourself. Whether it’s an app that acts as a pedometer like the Health app on your iPhone, an app that allows you to create a food & exercise diary like MyFitnessPal, or an app that allows you to track your periods (yup, they make many apps for that), technology can serve as a beneficial tool for getting in touch with what’s going on with your body and overall health habits.
- The internet is a source of knowledge. You can literally learn anything online. You have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips – and it is a source that we barely tap into on a day-to-day basis. Use tech for good, and find yourself a new workout or healthy recipe to try!
- Technology can help you stay connected with people you do not see regularly. Phone calls, social media, emails, Skype – there are plenty of options to get in touch with your friends and family. When my husband and I first started dating, he was overseas and Skype became my best friend. It played a huge role on our lives for quite some time. The need for connection is innate in all of us. Technology can help with that.
- Business thrives on tech. Innovation has never seen a time like the digital age. And as a consumer, you are essentially granted VIP access when it comes to finding new products that fit your needs & lifestyle. You can even dig into the deep hole that is customer reviews to find out if a product is really worth your money or not.
- The online world is a great platform for teaching others. As Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.” There are so many wonderful programs out there ready to be consumed by those who need them most. Podcasts, YouTube videos, Pinterest posts, online coaching programs, and so much more. Teaching others through online platforms allows the right person to find the right program at the right time. There is a lot to be said for that.
Why disconnecting is the bee’s knees:
- Disconnecting allows you to get back in touch with this thing called life. It allows you to be fully engaged in conversations with others, soaking in the environment around you. I was able to connect with strangers while sitting down for lunch, when otherwise I would have been idly scrolling on my phone. I had an acute awareness of everything going on around me, when normally I would have been sidetracked every few minutes by the latest & greatest happenings of social media.
- Too much blue light exposure (emitted from your phone, tablet & computer) can affect your sleep patterns. Want to learn more? Check out Harvard Medical School’s study on the subject. Then go get yourself a set of special glasses like these.
- Social media & technology can be a huge time suck. Ever been curious how much you are on your phone? Or which apps you spend the most time on? Try this little trick and be prepared to be astonished: Open your iPhone and head over to settings. Click “Battery” then select the little clock on the right hand side of your screen, right under where it says “Battery Usage.” There you will be able to see how many minutes you spend on each of your apps. You can choose to view this information for the last 24 hours, or the last 7 days. …Yikes!
- Technology can stop you from living in the present. Every once in a while, we need to take a minute to be truly grateful for the time we are given. Take in the beauty of the trees on your morning commute. Detach from your work phone (Seriously, do it. Constantly being available for work means you are constantly always worried about what you’re missing. Don’t let your work life rule you). Actually pay attention to what your friend is telling you over lunch. Take a second to thank your lucky stars that you are alive and well.
- It can keep you in your own little bubble. You probably already know that your social media feeds are curated by the things you like (and don’t like). You are essentially creating your own little world. In effect, you’re also less likely to be exposed to different ways of life, new opinions, etc.
- Social media, loneliness and anxiety all go hand and hand. Many experts agree that the amount of time you spend on social media directly coincides with how lonely you feel. You are technically “connected” but are less likely to establish deep, meaningful friendships online. It can also increase anxiety. Constantly being witness to people’s “best” lives on Instagram can leave you feeling inadequate. It can also leave you with some unrealistic versions of what a happy life looks like. Don’t find yourself getting caught up in the comparison trap!
- Too much tech time can negatively impact your posture, and keep you from being as active as you should be. Leaning towards your computer can strain your neck. Sitting in a chair all day creates some awfully tight hips. Both of which add to that bad posture you are trying to correct. On top of that, we should really only sit for about 2 hours a day. So if you can, ask if you can switch to a standing desk. At a minimum, take a quick walk every hour on the hour. Even a quick lap around the office or a mini stretch session can do wonders.
After all of that, here are a few lessons I learned from my own technology detox. I hope it encourages you to give it a shot for yourself, even if it is only for a little while.
- When you’re with the people you love, truly be with them. Give them all of your attention. They (and you) deserve it.
- Stop aimlessly scrolling and do something productive with your time instead. How often can you be heard saying you “just don’t have time?” Make the time. You have plenty of it, you’re just choosing to use it elsewhere.
- It’s a mindset shift. At first it will be weird. You will undoubtedly find yourself aimlessly reaching for your phone at the oddest of times. But once you realize how little you actually miss it all, it becomes very freeing. And that’s when the magic happens.
P.S. Like this post? You can check out other posts on how to live a healthier, happier life here. And if you haven’t already done so, make sure to subscribe to my email list (you can sign up here), where you will get exclusive content, including free workouts, yummy recipes, thoughtful mindset work and more!