As a Traditional Naturopath, one of the many aspects I focus on when it comes to helping my clients achieve success is teaching them how to balance their lifestyle routines and habits. We live in a very fast paced world that can place a lot of demands on our time. These demands have greatly increased with the invention of various forms of technology and our inability to ‘shut off’.
Eventually, if left out of balance for too long, this will start to have negative effects on your health. I have been in the Holistic Health field for 20 years and one thing I have seen progressively worsen is our dependency on electronics and various forms of technology.
When I first started my career, cell phones, text messaging and even emails were not nearly as prevalent. There was still a ‘newness’ to these forms of technology and people did not RELY on them nearly as much. I have seen this progressively worsen to the point that it is affecting the health of our society and individuals greatly.
Please understand, technology offers great benefits (when applied with balance) but to have a dependency on these tools can create deep rooted side effects such as:
- Moodiness & Irritability
- Lack of Ability to Focus
- Inability to Sleep Soundly or Properly
- Inability to ‘Shut Off’ and Relax.
- Disruption of the Normal Day to Day Routine & the list goes on.
It is not uncommon these days to text or email individuals and expect a response within hours. The technology itself is not bad but our expectations as a society as to how quickly we should respond has changed greatly. Subconsciously, this makes it extremely hard on the person to fully shut down, relax or to allow the body to rejuvenate. If left unchecked, this can become a chronic stressor in your life.
Just imagine this. Prior to text messages and emails, you had to actually speak face to face with a person and if you were unable to do so before the end of the day, it waited until the next day. You were able to go home, perhaps relax, maybe even enjoy a nice dinner with the family. There was communication and face to face conversation that took place within the walls of the home that has experienced great disturbance with the invention of such ‘easy to reach’ forms of communication. There was a very vital ‘component’ to health that was taking place in enjoying quiet time and leisure after the work was done.
Today, people can email and text you at all hours and at times. If you do not make a deliberate effort to set expectations properly, these things can literally infiltrate your life, family and home. These easy forms of communication have also greatly blurred the line between work and relaxation. It is not uncommon to receive a text and if not responded to within a matter of hours, receive another text & the same goes with emails. Some people now even send ‘read receipts’ with emails to see when it was opened and may silently gauge the amount of time it takes you to respond.
I rely on technology GREATLY in my business. Without it, I am certain I would not be able to experience the reach, growth and benefits that I have in my years as a Holistic Health Professional. However, I have also experienced first hand the strain it put on me when I did not control it. It greatly affected my health, my ability to relax and my attention span. It was not uncommon for my wife and I to be out to dinner and both glued to our phones (a site that I am certain you have seen once or twice yourself) rather than engaged in conversation with each other. If not, just visit a local hotspot or restaurant and take a look around, you will see everyone looking at their phones (sometimes around a table) and very little conversation taking place.
This was something that my wife & I both realized was affecting us and we had to agree to create some ‘technological boundaries’ in order to preserve the health of our minds and marriage. Here are some simple things we do to ensure we are able to wind down properly. This also ensures that we start our days off restfully and in peace. I am certain if you apply these healthy boundaries, you will notice a change in your mood, energy & lifestyle almost immediately.
- Batch Texts & Emails: Instead of a ‘steady drip’ per say throughout the day, try to schedule 2 or 3 times throughout the day to batch out (respond to) texts and emails. This will greatly help to increase your focus and help you to stay on task. Do not be surprised if you notice your productivity increase. This eliminates your need to have to check your phone every minute which is more often than not, done out of sheer habit.
- Designated Shut Off Time: Agree on a time that you will power off your technology in order to focus, relax, rest and enjoy much needed time with your family and friends. If you make your living in a ‘communication’ reliant business or Industry like we do, set proper expectations as to the turnaround time on responses to emails and messages.
- Technology Free Date Nights: Enough said. Nothing says ‘love’ like paying FULL attention to your spouse or loved one.
- Set Your Away Messages: If you are away on vacation, take the time to change your voicemail notating your date of return as well as taking a small bit of time to set up your ‘away from the office’ automatic response on email. Doing this will greatly help to filter those who desperately need your immediate assistance vs. those who do not. Keep in mind (depending on your Industry) that I do understand some people cannot fully ‘shut off’ but there is STILL a lot that you can do to minimize the immediate needs from those which are not.
- Shut Off Screens One Hour Before Bed: Turning off technology one hour before bed allows you a vital time to relax and let your mind rest. If you have trouble sleeping or falling into a deep sleep, try this! Many times, the ‘blue light’ omitted from laptops, cells and televisions can inhibit proper sleep and vital hormone processes not to mention the lack of mental rest. Try drinking a warm chamomile tea and reading a book and pay extra close attention to your level of freshness the next morning.
- Wake WITHOUT Technology: Nothing can be a mood killer faster than waking up glued to your cell phone. You do not allow your body the necessary time to wake properly before you are bombarding and stimulating your mind unnecessarily. Not to mention if you open an unfavorable email or text which can in turn set the mood for your whole day. Instead, allow yourself 1-1.5 hours to wake properly, eat breakfast and enjoy the start of the day. Again, pay close attention to your productivity.
There are many more tips and practices but these are a few KEY things my wife, Ashley & I practice as a part of our healthy lifestyle routine. It has not only helped us to stay focused, sleep better and enjoy true communication, it has helped us to become more productive individuals as well as to GIVE MORE to our Team, friends and family because we are properly rested which is the ultimate goal.
I know that there are various careers and industries that make some of these things harder to do but you can still find creative ways to set ‘technology boundaries’ in your own life so that you can achieve optimal health and wellness.
Above all, remember this, humans are not robots. We need real rest & rejuvenation as well as stimulating conversation that takes place person to person rather than device to device. Technology can be the greatest tool if used properly and within the confines of a well thought out plan that works within your life.
Here is to living a healthy optimal lifestyle.
Alexander Poptodorov, Doctor of Traditional Naturopathy