Here’s a scary truth: Whether hunched over a laptop, trying to achieve inbox zero or double-tapping your Instagram feed at lightning speed, the average American adult spends *11 hours a day* staring at some sort of a screen. That’s almost double the amount of time they spend sleeping, and far, far more than on any other single activity in a given day. In addition to messing with our mental health, bedtime routines, and even our vision, all of those screen-front hours can have some seriously detrimental effects on our bodies.
“When we spend a long time on the phone or computer, we tend to drop our neck, hunch our shoulders forward, and sink into our lower spine. Maintaining these bad postural habits throughout the day can cause prolonged neck pain, lower back pain, tight hips, shoulder pain and more,” says yoga instructor Claire Grieve. “Using technology constantly can also wreak havoc on our breathing patterns and mood, so it’s important to take breaks throughout the day to counterbalance all of this.”
If you’ve been walking around for the better part of the past two years with some sort of crick in your shoulders or tweak in your lower back, your tech habits may be to blame. And while cute phrases like “text neck” have become part of the vernacular as a way to describe this phenomenon, there’s really nothing cute about it—especially if you, like me, are currently spending hundreds of dollars a month on recovery and body work to combat it.
While the obvious solution to the problem is to, ya know, step away from the screen, for those of us with computer-heavy jobs (#itme) that isn’t exactly an option. So instead, I asked Grieves to share her favorite yoga postures to combat the bodily wear and tear of everyday life.
If you’re constantly leaning over your laptop: “Strengthening your core and then focusing on activating it while you are using your computer or phone can have a major impact on your overall posture,” says Grieve. “My favorite way to do this is with boat pose. You only need to hold this pose for about 60 seconds a day to effectively strengthen your core.”
When your wrists need to take a type break: Yes—your wrists need love too. “Stretch out your wrists by placing your palms down with your fingers pointed back and then flip them so your palms are facing up. Hold for about 60 seconds,” says Grieve. And while you’re at it, give your wrists a workout of their own to help make your other fitness moves more bearable.
When your hips get so tight you can hardly think about your project deadline: This one is less about tech and more about spending hours on end sitting in an uncomfortable desk chair, but either way after a while your hips are going to start to pay the price. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix, which you can do without even having to get up from your seat: While seated upright in a chair, cross your ankle over your opposite knee, and hold the pose for 60 seconds or more. That’s it!
No matter what your body needs, remember that you’ve got to have moments to pause. “Take breaks throughout the day to disconnect from your technology and breathe and stretch,” says Grieve. “Go outside if you can. Even just a few deep breaths can completely turn around your energy levels and mood.”
To at least try to minimize your screen time, try Gmail’s newest feature that makes inbox zero easier than ever. And here’s why the power of *negative* thinking could actually help supercharge your career.
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