In this day and age, it’s normal to work a job where you’re expected to look at a screen for 8 hours a day. Couple that with the fact that our entertainment mostly comes from screens, and we’re all addicted to our phones, and you’ll see how this can be a big problem! In fact, US adults will spend approximately 44 years of their life staring at screens…
I’m not surprised considering my phone average is 4 hours/day. (Apple devices have a ‘screentime’ feature). I then work at my laptop for a total of around 7-8 hours a day. 11 hours a day of screentime. If I sleep 8 hours, that’s only 5 hours a day I’m not looking at a screen 😳
In 2019 Fellowes built a life-sized doll, Emma, based on a report of what the average office worker could look like in 20 years.
What can we do to avoid Emma’s fate? There’s some basic steps we can take to protect ourselves. And which I’ve been overdue to take for a long time!
Protect your eyes
Naturally the first thing that comes into contact with a screen is your eyes. They’re going to be the part of your body most strained. Blue light damages the inner lining of your retinas—which can lead to sight loss. I’ve left work before with blurry eyesight.
Luckily it’s easy to filter this out with blue-light glasses, as long as you remember to wear them! A pair was only $15 on Amazon, and I’m already noticing the difference.
Hurting your eyesight isn’t the only effect—blue light can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, meaning those late nights working actually make it harder to sleep.
But better yet than protecting them—spend less time looking at screens. The great outdoors are waiting for you.
Protect your spine
It’s not just your eyes. Being hunched over a desk all day can lead to some serious posture problems. As a life-long sloucher, this is a big one for me. Standing desks, stretches and exercises can all help here.
It’s unnatural to sit all day, so standing desks give you a chance to take a break (even if it’s just a few minutes each hour). They’ve been linked to a TON of benefits. This was a game-changer for me—I used to groan at the thought of standing for a second longer than I needed to, but once you get used to it, you’ll never want to go back to sitting all day again.
Stretching and exercising are also important. A simple routing to stretch out the muscles which are tightened from sitting all day, and to strengthen the muscles which are weakened. I’m following this 22-day routine on YouTube, and it’s making me feel so much better already.
I know, this is basic. Not exactly easy to forget considering you die if you stop. Saying that, I’ve picked up a full water bottle at the end of the day too many times. One which I filled in the morning when I arrived…
Concentration, energy, avoiding snacking, preventing headaches, the list is endless. Making a conscious effort to keep hitting the bottle throughout the day pays off.
The less you think, the easier it gets
Last, but most definitely not least, is taking care of your brain. This has the dual benefit of helping you actually be more productive while also protecting you from the dangers of sitting all day.
Take a break. Again, sounds simple, but I have to make a conscious effort here. And I mean a real stand-up-and-walk-around break. Go annoy a colleague if you’re at the office. Go walk around the block.
Turning off your thinking mind actually helps with problem solving. Thomas Edison used to take quick naps when he got stuck, while holding a steel ball in his hand. The moment he drifted off to sleep, it’d fall and wake him. During that time, his wandering mind would find new ideas naturally. When I get stuck while writing, I take a 2-3 minute wander to think. Try it, it helps!
Consistency is key
The hardest part is sticking to this—bad habits die hard, and I've sometimes struggled to keep up with my own advice. But as long as you return to it and always keep trying, you'll soon notice a difference. Not to mention you'll be setting yourself up to avoid health problems in the long-run!