About The Power in Your Pocket
Quick! Do you know where your smartphone is? I bet you do – you might even be reading this article on it.
I'm AMAZED continuously by these little handheld inventions. With them, you can learn the answer to nearly any question, order dinner, or even find a date (sometimes all three!) with just a few light taps (or swipes) of your finger. Incredible, no?
But here's the deal with smartphones: They can present some pretty significant downsides when it comes to your sleep, your connection with other people, AND your health!
I'd never suggest you get rid of yours, though. Lord knows, I've come to depend on mine, as I'm sure you rely on yours. However, how you use these devices is something worthy of mindfulness.
Here are some evidence-based ways our smartphones might be having a less than supportive effect on our lives and health.
Connection: One study found that many of us touch our phones about 2,600 times a day! That has powerful blowback on our ability to concentrate and focus – as well as engage with people around us.
Another study found that merely having a cellphone in the same room can make it difficult for us to engage in deep conversation with others.
The impact of smartphones on our brains (and, importantly, the developing brains of children) is a massive area of research right now. Some research hints that smartphones have already cut down on our ability to read emotions on other peoples' faces as well as engage in simple, casual conversation.
Germs: Chances are you bring your cellphone with you everywhere (even the bathroom). #nojudgment
But when was the last time you gave it a thorough cleaning? You unknowingly might be carrying around viruses, bacteria or other germs in your pocket.
One study of cellphones found that 1 in 6 phones have E. coli bacteria on it! That's often caused by people not washing their hands enough. Gross! The good news is that bacteria won't live long on your phone.
That being said, it's always a good idea to clean your smartphone regularly!
Then There Are The Aches & Pains
Neck Pain: If you spend a lot of time staring down at your phone, you can strain your neck muscles and cause pain in your shoulders/neck/jaw that can even radiate down your arm. Over time, this can create some real problems for your posture. Step away from your phone and stretch out!
Trigger Thumb Pain: Have you heard of trigger thumb? This is when your thumb gets stuck in a bent position or pops whenever you try to straighten it out. If you text a lot using your thumb or hold your phone with your thumb, your tendon can thicken so it won't slide freely. (No joke, I know someone who had to have surgery for this, said it hurts, big-time!)
Blue Light & Your Eyes Devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers emit blue light, which is known for its energy efficiency as well as its short wavelength.
Because blue light has a shorter wavelength, it can tire out your eyes fast and even cause eye pain. There's also some evidence it can also cause damage to your cornea and hurt your vision.
Blue Light & Your Sleep: Since it can make it harder for you to fall asleep, you want to avoid getting too much of ANY light after sundown. Here is where your bedtime ritual of scrolling through social media can be especially harmful to you because the blue light from your devices seem to suppress your body's secretion of the hormone melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
***NOTE: If you want to learn more about this and other sleep disruptors get my FREE Supercharge Your Sleep ebook!
Possible Cancer Link: Whether radiation from cellphones can cause cancer is a topic of hot debate and ongoing study. So far, there has been no clear, proven link between the two.
But if you're worried about it, limit your use and don't sleep with your phone next to the bed (that's probably a bad idea anyway, just from the distraction angle!). And, guys, if you're planning on having kids, it's probably best to keep your phone out of your front pockets and away from your 'prize pack.'
There has also been a ton of research about how our brains become addicted to a dopamine-feedback loop that gives us a little "jolt" of happiness every time we get a notification.
Now, since smartphones are here to stay, it's probably a good idea to learn a healthier way of living with them by aiming for moderation. That way, we can enjoy the benefits they bring to us without any of the risks.
Try cutting back on your screen time, or experiment with leaving your phone in another room whenever possible. If you notice that you feel anxious or compelled to keep looking at it, that's a sign you might be overdependent on it and may even need to consider it an addiction. Either way, you'll need to 'detox' a while!
There is so much to consider when you stare into this life-changing, palm-sized electronic that it quickly becomes pretty mind-blowing.
Still, even with all the well-intentioned health & fitness apps, your smartphone can quickly turn from being a friend to becoming a foe... And, that's why I'm here, posting articles this this one.
Sometimes it helps to have someone hold you accountable and offer alternatives and helpful advice to help you reach your full potential. If that's you, I encourage you to check out my Performance Plus Coaching Program. Or, just reach out by shooting me an email. I'd be happy to help!
Until next time; own your age, love your life, and keep moving toward a better you!