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How Your Smartphone Is Hurting Your Health

mindset stress management Mar 16, 2024
How Your Smartphone Addiction Is Hurting Your Health | Joseph Arangio

Nowadays, smartphones are with you from the moment you wake up until you drift off to sleep.

You rely on them for communication, entertainment, and even productivity. But amidst all this convenience, there lies a hidden danger—one that's contributing to the expanding waistlines of millions.

Consider the obvious culprit: sedentary behavior. You ever spend so much time on your phone that when you finally look up, you realize your posture's worse than a cooked spaghetti noodle.

How many hours do you spend glued to your smartphone screen each day? Whether you're scrolling through social media, binge-watching cat videos, or playing games, chances are you're spending more time sitting than you realize. And prolonged sitting has been linked to a host of health issues, including weight gain and obesity.

But it's not just about the physical inactivity. The content you consume on your smartphone can also impact your eating habits. Think about it. How often do you mindlessly snack while scrolling through InstaChat or watching FaceTube? Studies have shown that distractions, like smartphones, can lead to overeating because they disrupt your body's natural hunger signals. Before you know it, you've polished off a bag of chips without even realizing it.

And it seems smartphones can encourage rude behavior. Ever try to have a conversation with someone, but they're too busy texting? It's like talking to a brick wall. What happened to good manners?

Then there's the psychological aspect. Social media, in particular, has a way of making humans feel inadequate. You're bombarded with images of perfectly sculpted bodies, delicious-looking meals, and #fitspiration posts that make you question your own progress. This constant comparison can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression—emotions that many people soothe with food.

But perhaps the most insidious way your smartphone is making you fat is through its impact on sleep. How many of 40+ men and women are guilty of scrolling through our phones in bed, long past our bedtime? The blue light emitted by screens disrupts your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. And when you're sleep-deprived, your hunger hormones go haywire, leading to increased cravings for sugary, high-calorie foods.

How Your Smartphone Is Hurting Your Health

Now, I know what you're thinking. How can this sleek piece of technology be sabotaging my efforts to stay lean and healthy? But what about all of the wellness apps that track my sleep and calories? 

Well, buckle up because you're about to discover some eye-opening insights.

If you're involved with kids, whether as a parent, grandparent, or educator, it's time to take a hard look at the example you're setting. We're in the midst of a serious mental health crisis, and teenagers are bearing the brunt of it. The latest report from the CDC paints a grim picture:

  • Nearly a third of students feel their mental health is suffering, and a staggering 42% experience persistent sadness or hopelessness.
  • Shockingly, 22% of students overall have seriously considered suicide, with 10% making attempts.

These statistics are especially alarming among teenage girls, with over half reporting persistent sadness and nearly a third contemplating suicide—a dramatic increase from just a decade ago. While pandemic-related stressors are often cited, experts argue that the roots of this crisis run deeper, pointing fingers at screens and social media.

Consider this:

  • Teens are spending an average of eight hours a day glued to screens.
  • Nearly 80% of teenagers check their phones at least once an hour, and 35% are constantly scrolling through social media.
  • Studies have shown that excessive social media use can actually alter brain development in young adolescents.

The timing couldn't be worse. Adolescence is a critical period when social interactions shape everything from IQ to emotional well-being, and screens are hijacking this crucial developmental stage. According to experts like Mitch Prinstein and Jon Haidt, social media's focus on metrics over meaningful relationships is rewiring young brains, leaving them more vulnerable to loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

Haidt goes even further, suggesting that the decline in unstructured play—replaced by endless screen time—is a major contributor to the crisis. Maybe it's time to rethink your digital habits. Unplugging from the constant barrage of news feeds and setting firm boundaries around screen time could be a step in the right direction.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Despite the negative impacts of social media, there are emerging platforms aimed at fostering genuine connections and supporting mental health. From apps encouraging positive interactions to teletherapy services catering specifically to young people, there's hope on the horizon.

However, you must tread carefully. While digital solutions can complement traditional mental health care, they also come with their own set of challenges, from over-prescribing medications to privacy concerns. And let's not forget the importance of real human connection—something that's often lost in the digital realm.

So, what can we do in the meantime? It starts with leading by example. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your phone, prioritize physical activity, outdoor play, and quality time with loved ones. And perhaps most importantly, start keeping the promises you make to yourself.

So, what can you do to break free from the smartphone-induced weight gain trap? Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Set Boundaries

Your phone's like a black hole. You pick it up for a quick check, and suddenly three hours have disappeared. You know you're in trouble when you can't even go to the bathroom without bringing your phone with you. Talk about a dependency issue! 

Start by establishing designated times when you'll use your smartphone and stick to them. For example, you might decide to only check social media during your lunch break or limit screen time after dinner.

2. Practice Mindful Eating 

Instead of mindlessly snacking while scrolling through your phone, make a conscious effort to savor your meals without distractions. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and sensations of eating, and you'll be less likely to overindulge. 

3. Move More

You tried using your phone's health app to track your activity, but it just kept telling you to "move more" while you were sitting on the couch. 

Break up long periods of sitting by incorporating movement into your daily routine. Take short walks during phone calls, do a resistance-training workout first thing after you wake up, or simply stand up and stretch every hour. Every little bit adds up.

4. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

You ever try to get some sleep, but then your phone's like, "Hey, I heard you haven't checked your email in the last five minutes. Let's fix that!"

Make your bedroom a smartphone-free zone and establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. Invest in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses to minimize the impact of screens on your sleep quality.

5. Practice Self-Compassion

You ever try to be productive, but then your phone's like, "Nah, let's watch cat videos instead."

Remember, nobody's perfect, and it's okay to slip up from time to time. Instead of beating yourself up over a late-night scrolling session or an extra serving of dessert, practice self-compassion and focus on making healthier choices moving forward.

At the end of the day, your smartphone is just a tool—it's up to you how you use it. By being mindful of your screen time, prioritizing movement and sleep, and practicing self-awareness, you can harness the power of technology to support your health and fitness goals rather than hinder them.

When you start honoring your commitments, big changes can happen. It's never too late to start prioritizing your health and well-being—now is the perfect time to make a change for the better.

So, put down your phone, lace up your shoes, and take a step toward a healthier, happier life. You can break free from the smartphone-induced weight gain cycle and reclaim control of your health. 

Summary: 

Smartphones, omnipresent in our lives, contribute to weight gain through sedentary behavior, disrupted eating habits, and even poor sleep quality. From mindless snacking while scrolling to endless distractions leading to overeating, smartphones influence our relationship with food. Moreover, excessive screen time leads to physical inactivity and disrupted sleep patterns due to blue light exposure, affecting hunger hormones and cravings. Good news is you can set boundaries, practice mindful eating, incorporate movement, create a sleep-friendly environment, and show self-compassion to mitigate these effects and regain control of your health.

To your success,

Coach Joe

 


 

Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women lose weight, gain strength, and slow aging. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to increase longevity with the best online age-management program, or you want to visit the best age-management program in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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