Put down that Tablet; Step Away from the Laptop

I bet you think this is going to be a post about how we need to spend more time with the kids and less time with our gadgets. Actually, no. That's not the reason I am writing this post, although that is a topic all by itself which needs discussion.

The first reason for putting down that tablet is the tell-tale strain you feel in your elbow, a tingling in your wrist and that muscle in your shoulder which is beginning to wince. The second reason for stepping away from your laptop is the fact that your eyes hurt, your neck feels pinched at the base and you now resemble a very good copy of the lead character from the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

About three months ago, I started feeling the warning signs of all of the above symptoms, but chose to ignore them. I told myself what any addict says, 'I can stop whenever I want to.'

If you've been here before, you'd know that I was addicted to blogging. I write two blogs and in addition, I am a Stay-at-home mom who does freelance content writing work and also works part-time at an NGO. Apart from that last job, what this boils down to is a lot of time spent online- writing, blogging and networking on social media.

Last week, I woke up with a stabbing pain in my neck, which quickly radiated to my shoulders. That's when I felt real fear. The very thought of not being able to do my daily tasks, let alone blogging/writing, terrified me. Without delay, I consulted a doctor and she confirmed what I had known all along.

I had iPad Shoulder. Yes, that's a real affliction.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Using a brusque, no-nonsense approach, she told me that I must take steps to reduce this incidence with immediate effect. She said I must do the following:

  1. Cut out all gadget-screen time for one week- Laptop/ Smartphones/ Tablets.
  2. Do no activity which involves bending the neck downward. This extended to reading.
  3. Use hot water compresses on the neck/shoulders to ease pain.
  4. Refrain from activity that involves heavy lifting.
I needed to hear this from a professional in order to get my life back on track. Thanks to her and my pain, I realised that my need to do so much all the time is likely to cause more harm than good.

What I have done

Taking my health seriously is something that I have consciously started doing. To this end, I now do the following:

Monitor my time online: I actually set a timer ( 30 minutes for laptop use/ 15 minutes for Tablet use) and when it goes off, I get up from my chair and walk around, stretching my limbs.

Started doing stretches: These are simple stretches anyone can do at home or at work. I found this infographic very useful!

Uninstalled many apps on my smartphone: Let's face it. That screen and your fingers? Not the best of friends. It causes excruciating pain on a long-term basis. Best to switch off completely. I have the laptop and the Tablet for checking my Blog updates and my Facebook notifications. Those will suffice.

Stopped using the Tablet in bed: I was the one falling asleep with my eye on the latest blog or the newest parenting article. Today, I fall asleep listening to some good music. 

Sleep longer: I would barely get 5 hours of sleep each night, thanks to my screen addiction. Now, I switch off everything by 10 p.m. and get to sleep. The more rested you are, the better you are equipped to deal with the world.

When I first shared this situation of mine with my close friends, Tulika Singh sent me this wonderful video to help minimize discomfort while working at the laptop. It is geared towards adults and kids. Do check it out.



In addition, this article by Jack Schofield is an eye-opener on all the things that we do wrong with the laptop and the Tablet.

I hope that what I have shared here today will help many people- those who work in the corporate sector, Stay-at-home moms who turn to gadgets to stay online/connected, Work-from-home moms who spend a lot of time online and children who use gadgets on a regular basis.

Our health lies in our hands. Let's not throw it away.

Be smart. Turn off that smartphone. It's going to help you.

~~~~~

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