As a part-time mature student, college has been difficult for the last few months, as I am not used to being online for long periods. My MA is all about health but ironically, doing everything in cyber space messed with my own wellbeing for a while!
Sitting down for long periods is one of the main causes of back pain and illness in our world. Painkillers work for some, but not long-term. Massage might feel nice, but it does not heal. So what to do?
We are designed to move, and the one natural medicine that is available to everyone, regardless of income or location, is movement.
A study of over 7300 adults in Ireland (Nicolsan et al, 2019) found that the average sitting time is 7.5 hours per day. This is a lethal state of affairs.
We need to stand up more often, move, and ideally get outside; better breathing means less depression, anxiety, and stiffness, better digestion, focus, and overall health.
Experts advise 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, yet only 30% of people manage that, which is a scary statistic if you connect it to weak immune sytems and illnesss. But let’s not go there right now.
For me, the challenge was to take actions to get better while continuing to work online. I am 100% sure that too much screen time made me ill, but once I began taking more breaks my headaches, stress, and nausea were reduced.
My tendency is to stay ‘in the zone’ when things are flowing, so I even resorted to setting alarms on the phone to time myself for 40 minute sessions! Drinking lots more water helped too. It took about 2 months to balance things out and form the new habit. Now I step away from the laptop every hour, without delay, and I feel so much better for it.
Sitting for work is not always avoidable, however there are many ways to support health; walking, gardening, cleaning… once the body is limbered up, it’s all good.
Most of all, I love how yoga feels. Lots of research exists about the benefits, and you can expect even bigger scientific yoga studies to emerge in the coming years.
Swimming is another brilliant aerobic activity. The water supports body weight and moving through a liquid world can be a soothing meditation. While jumping in the water every hour isn’t possible, getting up to move is.
We talk about mental health, yet the fact remains that body and mind are one. Our minds, coping mechanisms, moods, and organ functions are affected by each physical action that we take throughout the day.
Body wisdom just requires us to tune in, pay attention and take a sensible approach to making little changes. As health improves, self-esteem is boosted, and we can be more helpful to others too.
With so many people working online, 5 days a week, it is crucial to aim for more physical activity every day. I often stand up to write now; if you have a counter or you can buy something to raise the level of your screen up, it can help.
As for movement, slow and steady options are safer as there is less risk of injury. Now, it’s time for me to step away from this screen again for a while…