A Chiropractor’s Take on Limiting Technology
As chiropractic professionals, we are constantly researching and fact-checking current trends or common issues our clients have to help keep them “centered”. Recently, we have been hearing more and more the plights of the increasing presence of technology in our lives. From the blue light exposure affecting our circadian rhythm, to the decrease in our physical activity and the augmentation of our social constructs via algorithms and push notifications, technology has radically changed how we interact with and perceive the world.
When we boil it down, technology really is the same as all the other luxuries and treats in our lives – best consumed in moderation. The challenge here is that it has become so easy, convenient, and often necessary to interact with these technologies, so instead of strategies to avoid it, we need strategies to use it responsibly.
Let’s address blue light first. Blue light emission from the screens we are using tricks our brains to think the cycle of the sun is different than it actually is, thereby disrupting not only our innate sense of time, but also our bodies chemical rhythms around day and night – what we call our circadian cycle. Many people are aware that blue light exposure close to bedtime reduces sleep quality via melatonin; however, very few realize that melatonin is also involved in a complicated dance with many other features of your body, including your immune system, your insulin and blood sugar regulation, and also your stress hormones. This, in conjunction with the stress on the body from reduced quantity and quality of sleep and the decrease in time your body has to go through the “clean up” process at night, leads to increased wear-and-tear on the physical structures (muscles, tendons, joints, discs) and the nervous system. Think about it... you can physically feel a lack of sleep in your body more than just being tired. When we decrease melatonin, we reduce the function of our immune system, we dysregulate our insulin and cortisol cycle, and we don’t allow our body to clean out old, dead cells and replace them with new ones. The dysregulation of insulin can lead to many blood sugar issues, including diabetes, and with cortisol being our primary stress hormone, fatigue, excess stress, and exhaustion are all symptoms we see.
The decrease in physical activity is a known consequence of technology; however, technology can be used to actually encourage physical activity. Instead of using your phone and computer to order your groceries for pick up, use it instead to track your activity levels with many of the available fitness apps. Or, set alarms throughout the day to encourage you to get up and walk or complete some of the exercises your chiropractor gave you to work on 😉. As with anything, technology can either be a great asset or a terrible burden, but it is our choice on how we use it.
And finally, the social piece.... if you have seen The Social Dilemma, you are already aware of some of these issues. Not only are people of all ages losing the ability to have face-to-face conversations, but we are also being guided, often unknowingly, into echo chambers of our own beliefs and ideals. While this might be comfortable, it severely limits our ability to think critically, be empathetic, and consider the perspectives of others regardless if we agree with it or not. From this, we are seeing more anger, more anxiety, less coping skills, less communication skills, and overall dysregulated systems due to an artificial community environment.
Again, we aren’t saying to dump all your tech and go back to the Dark Ages, but with great power comes great responsibility... we must decide not only how we want technology to support us and not control us, but also how we can leverage it to actually make us healthier instead of the latter.
Here at Centered Chiropractic we believe in treating our patients fully, and our care extends far beyond our office doors. Dr. Bonham, Dr. Buckley, and Dr. Birdsey are ready to provide you with guidance! Stay tuned to our monthly blogs for more advice on living a healthy lifestyle, nutrition tips, simple ways to stay active, and the importance of fulfilling family relationships.