Welcome to the decade of digital dependence….but do the benefits outweigh the risks?

This week OFCOM released some staggering statistics regarding our use of smartphones. We are well and truly hooked and it comes as no surprise when you see how many people walk around on their phones. Ever looked up on your daily commute?- you will often see 7/10 people around you with their heads buried in their phones, oblivious to what is going on around them. The pros- commuters get to multitask on essential life-admin whilst travelling (from doing an online Tesco shop, to paying bills online, to swiping right on Tinder?!), the cons- we become ever more hunched over, often sitting for longer in hip flexion and risk back pain as we ‘Quasimodo’ ourselves into permanent slouched positions.

Despite the fact that the actual number of phone calls have fallen-we are now on average checking our phones every 12 minutes during waking hours, and 71% of us never turn off our phones at all. This has given rise to the use of other communication messenger methods such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Twitter. But what does this do for our social skills when it comes to having a face-to-face interaction with someone? What happens when you can’t post an emoji and actually have to show real human emotion? Find yourselves ‘hiding’ behind an e-mail’ knowing full well that you would never say what you are typing to the same person face-to-face? Something to consider…

The other side of the argument, however, is that so many businesses/start-ups are now run via social media and staying connected to family and friends abroad has never been so easy via these platforms .Finding inspiration and support on places like Instagram can help us feel connected to like minded people on similar health related journeys- but does it have to be 24/7?  Flexible working might beat a 9-5pm existence but where do you draw the line? Do you get anxious if you’re phone is low on charge or you can’t find signal? Setting some boundaries to protect yourself from being constantly contactable is a healthy idea. Ensuring a 1-2 hour digital curfew each night before bed is a good place to start…….trying to do a weekly digital detox for a full day is something to aim for…

Morning routines are also a cause for concern, seeing that 40% or 2 in every 5 adults check their phone within 5 minutes of waking up. Ever woken up feeling good, checked your e-mails and immediately felt your mood plummet before the day has even begun? It’s the same feeling when you are eating really well, feeling leaner, clothes fit better, sleeping well, exercising consistently and so jump on the scales to see the number hasn’t changed at all…it dictates your mood for the day. Scrolling aimlessly through social media can take up precious time in the morning when you could be working out, getting more sleep, eating a nutritious breakfast, preparing your meals for the day, walking with the kids to school instead of driving, or actually having a conversation with those you live with? One of the best pieces of advice is to try not to check your phone/e-mails until you leave the house. Time in the morning is your time. Let yourself prepare mentally in the best way you can so set your own the mood for the day and once you are out of the house- you will be more equipped to deal with what might land in your inbox. It might also help prevent you having a ‘knee-jerk’ reply to those pesky e-mails before you have properly woken up and type something you might regret later! We’ve all been there..

Similarly, family evening meals or meals at restaurants are often punctuated by us checking our phones when we hear a vibration or alert. Try turning off notifications and take the power back to when you respond. Go old skool and re-establish manners- no phones and no hats at the dinner table! Some behavioral rules like this can make all the difference. How can you be eating mindfully and tasting the food if you are sat scrolling through social media at the same time?

But I’ve got no time

When trying to find strategies to help clients create new habits like fit in daily exercise, eat mindfully, achieve more steps, or time to plan and prep meals, the response I hear most often is ‘but I’ve got no time’. We all have the same 24 hours in a day- it’s how we use that time and how we prioritise it. Next time you say to yourself “I’ve got no time to exercise” Flip it to say “Exercise just isn’t a priority” and see how well that sits with you?

On average we spend 2hours 28mins on our phones each day. That is a colossal amount of time that we whittle away in 5-10 mins here and there without even realising, but when put together could create a significant change in our lifestyles….What would you do with an extra 2.5 hours daily? Look up, get outside and get moving for a start- even if it is just 5 -10 minutes here and there…I promise you will feel better for it, and less likely to look like Quasimodo’s body double!