By Carol Phillips
Advances in technology in the past fifty years have literally changed the world around us and enabled us to communicate and work in ways we never dreamed. Computers allow us to complete work in minutes that used to take hours to accomplish. Cell phones allow us to send a text message to a friend and, one second later, that person is able to read it and respond just as quickly. Years ago, if we weren’t close to a landline, we had to find a pay phone to reach out. Additionally, imagine how many lives have been saved because cell phones are constantly with us during an unexpected emergency, enabling us to call 911 immediately.
However, we are also well aware that spending too much time on our cell phones has caused a laundry list of problems, including increased stress, trouble sleeping, miscommunication, distracted driving, and neck problems due to extended periods of time looking down at our devices, just to name a few.
As with all aspects of our lives, we need to balance the benefits of technology with the numerous ways these advances diminish our health and happiness. One piece of advice I give to my clients is, “Society is not going to slow down for you or step in to take your devices away. Empower yourself to make choices that will keep you moving in a healthy and happy direction.”
Attempting to make big changes at once can be hard for most people, yet, we sometimes think small changes won’t be adequate to improve our health. The truth is that trying to make big changes often results in short-lived efforts. Your chance of being successful, long-term, increases if you begin to make small changes and allow them to grow while giving yourself positive feedback for your efforts and, also, recognizing every benefit along the way.
Here’s an idea: Spend one day using your cell phone only when absolutely necessary. Notice the countless times throughout the day when you are drawn to your phone. Become increasingly aware of when you use your phone out of habit or to stay connected with every social media post or breaking news alert.
Have you ever noticed that everything is “breaking news” nowadays? Your brain was not designed to be connected to everything going on in the world, every minute of the day. This constant and massive input of information, over time, can overwhelm your brain, causing problems with normal thinking and problem-solving skills. More importantly, constantly checking your phone distracts you from what I like to call “your happy bubble,” meaning allowing your brain to process what is most important to you – your family, close friends, and work community – and focus on the positive aspects of life.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people going away on vacation to a location that doesn’t have any cell service. These stories often include these key components: at first it was very hard to not be looking at their cell phone all day, but over time, distancing themselves from their phone became easier and easier. The best part is that these stories typically end with the person stating that the time spent away from their devices was a wonderful experience and allowed them to engage in activities that brought them much more joy. This speaks volumes regarding how addicted we have become to these small creatures of technology and how our brains are truly craving a break from our cell phone use…or should I say abuse?
Begin today to look at your devices with a new set of eyes. Allow them to make your life easier, but start making small changes that will keep technology from taking over your life in ways that lead you away from wellness. Discover all the ways technology can benefit you, while avoiding the pitfalls commonly associated with overuse. In all areas of our lives, taking control in order to move in a positive direction is empowering and invigorating!
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, offers health, wellness, and safety services designed to help companies increase profit. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.