If you are binging on technology, it's time to powerdown and reboot your health. The convenience bestowed on us by the digital age also has its drawbacks. Overuse has lead to more sedentary lifestyle habits; destructive effects on the body, like eye strain, back and wrist pain, and upper body tension; and a loss of connectedness and face-to-face interaction with friends and loved ones. Wean yourself off the web. Cut the wires. Regain control over your electronics. Start with this 4-week plan.
WEEK 1: LOL - Lighten the (Over)Load
- Limit your cell phone use. Dial only when absolutely necessary (or during emergency situations). Re-record your voicemail message to let people know that you haven't gone missing; you're just taking some time away from your mobile phone.
- Check your email only once a day. Set up an out-of-office alert and respond to urgent messages only.
- No social networking. Unless you're actually meeting friends or family in the real world, not the virtual one.
- No text messages. That means zero!
WEEK 2: "Technical Support"
Just like any diet plan, you'll need a support system of people around you to help you reach your goals.
- Re-establish real contact beyond your computer screen.
- Ban texting within the home, between rooms. Get up, go upstairs or to the other room, and talk to your family.
- Go analog. Plan activities with a real calendar. Get organized the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper!
WEEK 3: OMG - Open up, Move and Go!
Surfing the 'Net doesn't count as exercise. You need get up, get out and move.
- Get your heart going with a minimum of 30 minutes of your favorite cardio activity per day.
- Get 10,000 steps a day. (Yes, you're allowed to keep your pedometer!)
Responsible-Techie Toning Exercise
Hold out one arm directly in front of you, parallel to the floor, palm facing down. Squeeze a tennis ball. Feel your arm and hand muscles working. This is like strength-training for your hands. Repeat with the other hand. This is great to do while taking a break from your desk at work.
WEEK 4: TTYL - Trim the Tech You Love
Now that you've learned to live with limited tech time, adopt these behaviors for the long haul. Train for endurance, not just a quick fix.
- Use a kitchen timer. Reward yourself with 30 minutes of online time if you have exercised for at least 30 minutes that day.
- Establish text message limits. Send only 10 texts a day.
- Cut your conversations short, politely of course. Keep your calls to a 5-minute maximum.
Rethink your relationship with technology. Enjoy it in moderation and avoid excess. The world of technology will only keep moving faster. Sometimes, it pays off to slow down.
To assess your levels of Internet activity, take this Internet addiction quiz.