These days it seems to be the norm to constantly be in front of a screen. Computers, smart phones, iPads, even books are all digitized and promote a 3rd person culture rather than interpersonal communication. Below are some easy things you can improve by unplugging:
A study at the British Psychological Society’s annual Occupational Conference found that 70% of employees did not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity, spending 5.75 hours per day at their desk. This may please your boss, but can be detrimental to your health. The human body is uniquely designed for movement, not inactivity. Take a break from your screen at least every hour to walk around the office.
In a survey of U.S. working adults, 38% confessed to frequently checking work emails while at the dinner table. While it is sometimes crucial to be accessible, chances are most things can wait, and the benefits of engaging in meaningful first-person conversation is well worth an email sent 15 minutes later.
Reduce Muscle Pain
Studies show that eye strain and other painful optic symptoms like twitching appear in 50-90% of those who spend their day working at a computer. That, in addition to improperly positioned desks and screens can force people to sit in ways that compromise their posture and misalign the spine. To prevent chronic pain from hunching, check your posture while sitting, invest in an ergonomic chair, and get up and stretch.
It can be easy to get distracted when your whole day is spent on the computer. Rather than do something non-work related on the computer, if you’re taking a break get up and take a walk, get a glass of water, or go outside. Taking a break at your computer results in an average 50% increase in time to finish an assignment, and can take up to 45 minutes for your brain to be able to re-focus on the original task.
Save Your Skin
According to Dr. Andreas Arnold from the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, sitting with a laptop on your legs for a long period of time can put you at risk for Toasted Skin Syndrome (TSS)- permanent spots, burns, and rash-like markings and inflammation from the heat that a laptop produces against your skin.
Get Better Sleep
Our brain has the capacity to perform a daily systematic downshifting of brainwave activity, much of which is cued by the daily arrival of darkness. When the commands & bio signals are disrupted by light-emitting screens, it smothers the production of melatonin and can lead to much more than lack of sleep.
Manage Your Mood
With so many ways to check in and let the world know what you’re doing at every moment, many feel pressure to keep up with everyone else’s “activities” which can lead to uneasiness and envy or the fear of missing out. Rather than increase new anxieties over other people’s lives, spend time away from social media, creating memories in your own life.
Drive More Safely
The National Safety Council has estimated that about 1.2 million accidents a year involve cell phones. Recent driving laws in Oregon have been adjusted to eliminate use of cell phones in cars except when using a hands-free device. Even so, there are many who still are distracted by screens while driving. Keep everyone safe and unplug!
Kick the Addiction
It may seem like a hobby, but constant screen time can become an obsession. A study of brain scans of internet junkies led by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy, found that white matter abnormalities in the orbit-frontal cortex appear much the way they do in scans of people with substance abuse issues. Do a test for yourself by staying away from technology for 3 days. If you experience severe feelings of withdrawal, anxiety, stress, etc. you may have a problem.