Chances are your smartphone is within arm’s reach right now, if you’re not already using it to read this.
We’re spending more time than ever on our digital devices—did you know the average employee checks 40 websites a day, switching activities 37 times an hour, changing tasks every two minutes.? With the flood of incoming texts, emails, calls, and push notifications, it’s rare if our screens stay dark for more than a moment.
The negative psychological, social and physical impacts are real. If this sounds familiar …it’s time for a change. It’s time for a Digital Detox! Disconnect to reconnect!
You’ve likely heard of FOMO. Here’s its more positive-minded cousin: JOMO
Our digital habits, which include constantly checking messages, emails, and social media timelines, have become so entrenched, it is nearly impossible to simply enjoy the moment, along with the people with whom we are sharing these moments.
The term JOMO (the joy of missing out) appears to have been first popularized by author Christina Crook, who in 2015 penned her first book ‘The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World.’
JOMO is the emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO and is essentially about being present and being content with where you are at in life.
Ending the temptation to check every ding and flash doesn’t require an anguishing separation with your devices. A recent study from the University of British Columbia found that people who focus on their smartphones while sharing a meal with their friends or family had an all-around less-enjoyable time.
By choosing to be who we are in the present moment ( which is the secret to finding happiness), we free up that competitive and anxious space in our brains that gives us more energy to enjoy the people we’re with and our surroundings.
Encourage cellphone-free meals by designating a drawer in your kitchen as a place where devices can be kept out of sight. Add a charging outlet like the one shown above and you may find your family using it outside of meal times.
Physical Risks of Too Much Screen Time
Look around. Whether you’re at home, at work, at a restaurant, or walking down the street, you’re bound to see someone looking down at their cell phone – maybe even you. And while this is par for the course nowadays, it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies.
Spending hours a day hunched over a mobile device can be a pain in the neck, not to mention the shoulders, upper back, elbows and eyes.
Neck muscles, in their proper position, are designed to support the weight of your head, about 10 to 12 pounds. For every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on those muscles. Looking down at your smartphone, with your chin to your chest, can put about 60 pounds of force on your neck.
Meanwhile, excessive scrolling or texting can overtax the soft tissues of the thumb, hand and wrist.
Try not to stay stuck in any one position for more than 15 minutes. Vary the tilt of your head, and take frequent breaks to allow the eyes to look far and wide.
Learn to Enjoy the Darkness
They may not be the best cuddlers, but so many of us can’t resist getting into bed with our phones and tablets. While we may feel more secure with 24/7 connectivity, our devices are contributing to Sleep Procrastination.
Although lack of sleep has become sort of a badge of honor, the cumulative effect of inadequate shut-eye can impair the immune system, cause weight gain and hypertension just to name a few possible outcomes.
If your excuse for snoozing with your phone is that you use it as an alarm clock, you’re inviting in the whole world and anxiety. Studies show that just the presence of the device in the room impacts sleep quality.
Switch to an old fashioned analog alarm clock. Making this simple change will improve your sleep and it will give you 20 minutes to an hour each morning to be more productive. Furthermore, you will now be able you to start your day on your terms – no looking at a stressful work emails first thing or mindlessly swiping.
While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, the hormone involved in the body’s sleep-wake cycle, blue light at night does so more powerfully.
The Effects of Blue Light Irradiation
Emitted from the sun, blue light is naturally occurring in the world around us. Blue light, a high-energy visible light (HEV), refers to light wavelengths between 380 and 500 nm,
Sunlight is the main source of blue light, and being outdoors during daylight is where most of us get most of our exposure. But, there are also many man-made sources of blue light, including fluorescent and LED lighting, phones and computer screens.
Research is still being done to determine the long-term effects of blue light or HEV light emission, however it is known is that blue light is a cause of computer vision syndrome (CVS) and “digital aging.”
Digital Aging is when skin damage is caused by a high energy visible light (blue light) from our phones and computer screens. This blue light penetrates farther into the skin than both UVA and UVB sunlight and uses a higher level of energy than IR (infrared) light.
Just as UVA and UVB light exposure triggers a cascade of oxidative damage on and within our skin, so does blue light. The startling difference is that blue light can penetrate farther into skin than UVA light, causing deeper damage that eventually shows up as wrinkles, rough texture and brown spots. (Yikes!)
While each person should choose their own digital detox plan to disconnect; the potential risks associated with too much exposure to Blue Light is enough for me to rethink my screen time (and maybe a new anit-blue light screen filter). I’ve already stopped the notifications from my social media apps – my next step will be to remove them from the home screen of my phone.