Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been looking at 13 ways to be healthier in 2013. Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made, just a few months ago? Have you stuck with them? Or are you still trying to remember what they were? Look, change is hard, even if it’s for a good reason, like better health. Instead of being overwhelmed by multiple changes at one time, we’ve been exploring small but gradual changes to help you improve your overall health. So far, we’ve looked at sleep, taking the stairs, letting go of little things, drinking water, trying meatless Mondays, tasting the rainbow, reducing processed foods, getting yourself moving, wearing sunscreen, and getting a checkup. Today we’ll explore the Healthy Habit of unplugging.
How often do you check your email? Texts? Catch up on your e-reading, use your home gaming system, or watch TV? If those things are taking up a significant part of your day, think about this: When’s the last time you wrote a letter to a friend? Sat down and read a real book, newspaper or magazine? Went outside to toss a football or just ran around with your kids? Chances are, you’re much more likely to engage in the “electronic version” of all of those leisure activities we used to do on a daily basis. And as a result, our health is suffering.
Relying on electronics to deliver messages and keep us entertained means we spend more time sitting in chairs or on couches instead of getting up and moving. A sedentary lifestyle greatly increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cognitive decline. It can also lead to loss of muscle tone, bone loss, depression, and decreased immunity. If that’s not enough to motivate you to get away from those electronics and get moving, then check out this statistic: People who are physically active showed a 40 percent decrease in cancer mortality than those who were sedentary. That’s a pretty good case for unplugging, right?
Aside from these risks, there’s another danger of overusing electronics: they can seriously affect your vision. Ask anyone who stares at a screen all day, like the Boise Healthy Living Examiner, and they’ll tell you it’s rough on the eyes. They may even suffer from headaches. Whether it’s your computer, your phone, your e-reader, or a TV, it doesn’t really matter. All that screen time leads to eye strain, blurred vision, difficulty focusing, eye discomfort and dryness, and the headaches that usually accompany these symptoms. These side effects of excessive screen time won’t shorten your life, but they can effectively ruin your day and make you feel awful.
Of course, there are times when we need to use our electronic devices. But if it’s not necessary, try going without. Walk over to your coworker’s desk instead of sending an email, instant message, or text. You’ve probably been sitting for a while anyway, right? In fact, it’s a good idea to get up at least once an hour and take a few steps. Not only does this give your eyes a break from that screen, but it will keep your metabolism from grinding to a halt as well. Instead of watching a ball game on TV after work, go out and have a catch with your kid. If reading helps you relax, curl up with a good book and enjoy the experience of flipping real pages.
The Internet is 24/7/365. You can’t possibly see it all, so why try? And that text from a friend just to say hey, doesn’t need to be answered right this minute. If you’re on Pinterest looking at soothing scenes of nature when there’s nature to be seen right outside your door, you’ve got an ironic problem. Set a time limit for your electronic devices and then stop when that time runs out, and go do something else. The Internet will still be there tomorrow, promise.
Talk it up:
Are you guilty of overusing your electronics? When’s the last time you truly unplugged?
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