How the online world is affecting our health

You might think that health and well-being is all about diet.  It is up to a point but our lifestyles are equally important.  For us to eat well, we need to feel stable and calm.  If we’re super stressed or if we’re catching up with social media all the time, we don’t have time to plan and think about what we’re eating.  Planning is the key to healthy eating.  Being emotionally stable is also key to healthy eating.  You know that feeling when it gets to late afternoon and you eat because you’re really tired/stressed or bored.  Or you’ve had a bad day at work and you reach for the block of chocolate or a couple of glasses of wine when you get home.  We’re creatures of habit so we eat what we’ve always eaten because we feel good.  But what if those foods aren’t serving us well?  We start to feel unwell.  I’ve been there.  I couldn’t imagine my life without bread and pasta but I knew I felt better by reducing these foods.  To make changes, we have to be ready, we have to want to make changes and we have to be less stressed.

DISTRACTION – for me, this word sums up 2018.  We’re distracted with everything online – social media, emails, messaging and gaming for some.  Everywhere we go, people have their heads buried in their smart phones.  People are talking less and less to each other.  In the UK, recent research indicates that loneliness may be the next biggest public health issue on par with obesity and substance abuse.  Changes in modern society are considered to be the cause and one of the reasons is our growing reliance on social technology rather than face to face interaction.  It means we feel less connected to others and our relationships are becoming more superficial and less rewarding (Dr Rebecca Harris 2015).

Nutrition

So what has all this got to do with nutrition or health?  When we’re not distracted, we’re more mindful.  This means sitting down at a table and focusing on what we’re actually eating.  It also means focusing on chewing our food well.  When we’re eating on the go or eating checking emails, we’re not nourishing our mind and body.  Our digestive system doesn’t work well under these conditions.  It works well when we eat slowly, when we’re not stressed, when we’re not in a rush and we’re not distracted with technology.

Going ‘screen free’

Recently, I’ve been emerging now and then from the online world and the stress of each day and practising mindfulness.  ‘What am I doing?’ and ‘Who am I?’ are a few of the questions I ask myself.   I finally realized that my family is driven by technology and losing the art of communication.  Where there’s technology, there are wires, lights, boxes, flashing lights, iPad’s pinging, you get the idea.  We can’t escape!  Sometimes my 13 year old forgets to eat when he is so engrossed in a video game.  I decided we had to do something about it.   We now have two ‘screen free’ Sundays each month where each person chooses what we do.  So far, it’s working really well and I even get to have a proper conversation with my 13 year old!  I have to admit, even I found it hard at first as I had become so reliant on checking my ‘screens’.

I have a love/hate relationship with the online world.  Who doesn’t like being connected, finding out information immediately and seeing what my friends are doing on the other side of the world.  But there’s a dark side.  A group of tech experts who used to work at companies like Facebook have founded an organization to raise awareness about what they believe are the negative effects of social media and technology on society.  They starting a campaign called The Truth About Tech and are especially worried about the effects of unchecked tech use and social media on children.  This is a step in the right direction.

Next time you reach for your ‘screen’, look up at the sky, observe the trees or listen to the birds.  Let me know if you feel any different.

If you’d like to find out more ideas on how to have ‘screen free’ days, head over to my Facebook page (link at top of website).

 

 

 

 

 

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