No matter where you are right now, look up and notice how many people have their heads down looking at some device or are on the phone. We are hopelessly attached to these devices. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2014, 90% of American adults own cell phones, and 81% of those people use them to text.
The average person sends or receives 59 text messages daily, making for a combined 2.19 trillion annual texts. New research shows that we check our phones every six minutes, or 150 times a day. We often think of our electronic devices as an appendage vs. a tool. Which makes a significant impact on both our minds and bodies.
IMPACT ON OUR BODY
• Aching Neck and Sore Back. The head down posture puts serious pressure on the spine, according to 2014 research by orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Hansraj. When we tilt our head forward, it exerts force up to 60 pounds at a 60-degree angle. That is a lot of pressure on our spine.
• Breathing Issues. Leaning forward can impact our breathing according to the UK’s United Chiropractic Association. When we drop our head and shoulders, it prevents us from taking full, deep breaths. It also limits the range of movement of our ribs, which in turn prevents our lungs from functioning efficiently. Research has also shown that we hold our breath or take shallow breaths when we are texting or on the computer. This effect is called “screen apnea.”
IMPACT ON OUR MIND
• Our use of electronic makes it exponentially difficult for us to be present in our lives. We are so deeply engaged—whether we are walking while texting, emailing, or talking on the phone— that we could walk directly into traffic without any awareness. We have no idea where we are, who is around us, or even what we are feeling.
• Albert Einstein once said, “time is relative to your state of motion.” With all this texting, tweeting, posting, and emailing, we’re making our minds move faster, which accelerates our perception of time. It seems like time is moving faster and faster. How often have you asked yourself “How did it get to be 5 p.m.?”
Technology has grown in its domination of our lives with one amazing innovation after another. However, it's our choice whether we let these things stand between us and the world around us. Practicing mindfulness is an invitation to experience your own life as it unfolds. Life itself is more real-time than any piece of electronic data we can access. Even better than a "friend" invitation on Facebook!
Hansard, Kenneth K. (2014). Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head. Surgical Technology International, Nov 25:277-279.
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