With a majority of Americans expressing an interest in establishing a better self-care regimen, experts are pointing out that it should go beyond the traditional types of care, like exercising and eating better. Because people spend so much time using screens, experts recommend that people focus on improving their physical, mental, and digital health. The Digital Wellness Institute has been working to educate the public about how online habits affect them, particularly in terms of their health.
Digital health is a newer concept and professionals have defined digital wellness, which focuses on having a positive relationship with technology, with social media being a digital component which many people could improve by having video chats or sending positive messages instead of focusing on the negatives. It is also important not to spend too much time on social media because it can create a “fear of missing out” when a person isn’t constantly engaged.
One of the signs that a person is interacting too much with technology is digital eye strain, which has the symptoms of the eyes feeling tired, strained, itchy, and dry. When looking at devices, we tend to blink less, which causes these problems. To help reduce the risks of this problem, look away from screens and intentionally blinking to wet the eyes and let them rest by looking at something further away. The blue light emitted by device screens is also known to disrupt sleep, though research is still being done to better understand this phenomenon. By avoiding looking at screens for the last hour before bedtime, a person can largely avoid this problem. A more serious problem caused by excessive use of technology is the musculoskeletal complications, with the back, neck, and shoulders suffering substantially over time. Ergonomic chairs can help, but long hours at a computer without getting up will still result in problems.
The psychological effects are still being researched, but checking email and texts first thing in the day makes people go into fight or flight mode soon after waking, starting the day with unnecessary stress. Social media has been found to create a greater sense of anxiety and loneliness when done in excess, instead of making people feel more connected. One study found that young adults who were limited to just 10 minutes of social media for a day were more emotionally resilient than the days when they were not limited in their use of platforms.
It’s important to create healthy digital habits so that our interactions with tech encourage physical and mental health. This includes practicing good digital hygiene. Digital hygiene is ensuring you secure your accounts (password protection and being careful of their online presence). Digital wellness includes digital hygiene, as well as adopting a positive presence online, such as being more supportive of people online, limiting time on devices, and stopping to stretch and look away from screens regularly. The article provides a very informative visual of the habits people need to consider to maintain their digital wealth.
If you would like more details about what you need to do to improve your digital wellness, you can read the full article at Is Sitting at Your Computer Making You Sick? Adopt Healthier Digital Habits.