December 11 2017 by Jess
As the holidays get closer our nutritionist Jess lays out why a digital detox might be in order.
Like so many others, I've become completely hooked on technology. It's difficult to go anywhere these days without noticing that the majority of the room are on their smartphones.
From emails and texting, to social media apps, music and even books, our portable small screens have got us covered, and it’s all available at our fingertips and a WIFI connection.
Let’s begin with the positives - as there are so many.
Technology is incredible and it has totally revolutionised the way we live, allowing us to achieve things that wouldn’t be possible without it.
We can soak up knowledge whenever and wherever we like. It's possible to order a selection of dresses for our work Christmas party, to be delivered that afternoon so we can try them on in the comfort of our own living room, and FaceTime our best friend so she or he can offer their opinion on which one they like best! We can own an entire library of our favourite novels or movies and soak them up in front of a cosy log fire, one after the other. We can speak into our phones with voice recognition, and schedule our Christmas dinner to be delivered for our timely arrival at home.
We no longer need to go into a bank to be in charge of our finances, or go to a music concert to support our favourite music artist - we can follow their profile and see behind the scenes via InstaStories.
Wondering how many steps you’ve walked today? Your phone will tell you. Wondering where you can find the healthiest readymade custard to go with your Christmas pudding, and how many grams of protein, fat or carbs it contains to fit in with your macro goals? You’re just a few taps away from knowing.
We are more connected than ever, and we have access to more information than ever before, yet a lot of us actually feel more disconnected with real life and from meaningful connections. If we’re not careful it can take a toll on our health - both physically as well as emotionally.
Enjoying a digital detox every now and again, or making an intentional effort to be more aware of how often we actually use our phone would do our bodies and minds the world of good.
Research has found the average user picks up their phone more than 1500 times a week. Do we need to be using it this much? Are there any negative health side effects from living in such an online world?
Let’s consider a few….
If the thought of being away from your phone fills you with a sense of anxiety, then let’s take a moment to stop and ask why? Emails can be accessed 24/7, but they can also wait for you to be in work to respond. Setting boundaries for work and play are so important, as they help to set and manage expectations, whilst giving you the freedom to disconnect and be present in real life.
Do you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and have to keep up with what everyone else is doing? If so, remember to focus on you and enjoy your world. Ask yourself how does scrolling through notifications make you feel? If it brings you joy or fills you up with positivity, then fantastic! If on the flip-side it fills you with anxiety, a feeling of 'not enoughness' or like you’re missing out, then perhaps making a deliberate choice to switch off from the online world every now again would be a welcome change.
There are some concerns about the regular overuse of backlit devices- including smartphones- on our vision. According to research, if you were to compare the strain on your eyes from using these devices for an hour, it would be the equivalent strain on your leg muscles from running up and down stairs for an an hour!
Here is a very practical suggestion to help support your eye health...
Adopt the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes take a 20 second break and make your eyes look 20 feet/six metres into the distance. If you are a regular smartphone user, allow your eyes to look into the distance more often. It's a small thing to remember to do, but it could be a big help for your eyes!
Far too often people spend the majority of their time engaged on their screen. Take a moment to look up from your smartphone at what is on offer around you. Look at the clouds in the sky, the leaves changing colour, squirrels bouncing around or birds making their nest.
Look at the person you are enjoying lunch with- your phone safely placed in your bag and not on the table. Say thank you to the person serving you and look into their eyes whilst doing so – take note of what is happening around you. Instead of burying your face in your phone or blocking your ears with music, enjoy the walk home from work or the bus/train and talk to someone new.
You can experience so much joy capturing and being present in many of life's little moments.
The artificial lights from smartphones throw the body's biological clock out of sync, often resulting in a bad night's sleep. For this reason, it’s really important to have a set rule to be screen-free beyond a certain point in the evening.
Quality sleep is so important for all areas of health.
Research has shown that blue light, which is a wavelength of light emitted from devices, has been singled out as more significantly disruptive to sleep than other colours on the light spectrum. It delays the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, disrupts our body clock, stimulates the central nervous system and may influence negative changes in mood.
I know it can be hard to pull away from our fast paced lives, so I challenge you to do a 24 hour digital detox.
Escape the distractions of every day life, social media and the constant bombardment of notifications. Set yourself daily periods of time to digitally detox, explore, and disconnect to reconnect!
Remembering what truly makes us human and nurturing these deep social qualities is really important, otherwise we run the risk of becoming mindless anti-social drones. Regular social media sabbaticals are a must, so we take time to look up from our phones and reconnect with ourselves and the world around us.
How about challenging yourself to go completely offline for 24 hours? If you can’t because of work, just switch off the notifications for all of your social media apps and see how you get on.
By Jess, graze nutritionist.
Our nutritionist extraordinaire, Jess trained at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and is a registered practitioner with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She's the creator of our health badges, to help you choose the snacks and boxes that are right for you. Check out everything from Jess on our blog, with recipes and tricks to help you keep making better choices, or go to her website at jessntom.com for even more.
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