Will Unplugging from Technology Help Me Break Bad Habits?
I recently saw an episode of “Family Feud” that made me nostalgic for the good old days — or what my nieces and nephews call ancient times. Contestants on the TV game show were challenged with naming outdoor childhood games from a time when cellphones, computers, and social media weren’t around to entertain us.
Unplugging for one day
I love modern technology, from my smartphone right through to my 4K television. But on days when sarcoidosis is kicking my butt, it can feel like an inescapable burden (checking emails, answering texts, making calls, etc.) or a bad habit (watching too much television) that I sink into.
It’s been happening a lot lately, which is why I’ve decided to participate in this year’s National Day of Unplugging. From sundown to sundown on March 6-7, I will join others participating in the global initiative to take a 24-hour break from their cellphones, computers, and tablets.
Last year, I decided to take a breather from the last remnant of social media in my life. My farewell to Twitter became permanent. I found that escaping from the constant stream of tweets made me more productive, social, and engaged during activities offline.
But over time, my cellphone, laptop, tablet, and television have moved back to the center of my attention. That’s a habit I want and need to break.
The average cellphone user interacts with their phone 76 separate times a day — tapping, clicking, and swiping a total of 2,617 times! For heavy users, it’s 132 separate daily interactions and 5,427 taps, swipes, and clicks, according to findings from the research platform dscout, which tracked the usage of a diverse sampling of Android users (94 from a pool of more than 100,000 participants) over a five-day period.
I’m not nearly as addicted to my cellphone. But the neuropathy in my hands makes every tap, swipe, and click on it (as well as my tablet and laptop) painful, which is why I want to scale back my time on electronics.
Weathering the recent flood of rainy days in the Philadelphia area, which to my misery continues, has also resulted in another bad habit I’d like to break: television. Instead of impromptu wintery walks outside, I’ve been spending more time on my couch reading and watching television. Neither sitting nor watching television in abundance is healthy.
A study published last year linked a two-decade sedentary lifestyle with double the risk of premature death compared to a physically active one. The “English Longitudinal Study of Ageing” found a correlation between watching television for more than 3 1/2 hours a day and poorer verbal memory in older adults.
I don’t believe a 24-hour digital break will be enough for most of us to erase our reliance on or addiction to our devices. But I hope it will jump-start my efforts to break bad habits that, in the long-term, could negatively impact my health.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.