Typically the challenge has been to get up from your desk or off your couch, strap on a pair of shoes, and go for a jog. That was what we considered to be that tough form of exercise that everyone knew was important, but no one wanted to do. 

Although as we spend more and more time online, staring at screens and considering our virtual spaces, getting a workout done to our physical selves might look to be the easier one. We don’t even consider the fact that we have to take care of our mental health while we were clicking and tapping our phones and laptops to no end.

Too Much of Anything Is Not Good

Getting into a good workout routine is key, and once you are able to do so, you should be applauded, but every expert and trainer will tell you that you shouldn’t do intense workouts every day. Your body needs to take time off. You are pulling and flexing your muscles as you exercise, and these same muscles need to heal and repair themselves to grow stronger. That’s not to say that you should lay in bed all morning after a previous day of working out (in fact, you should always be stretching every day), but balancing your time properly is essential. You can get tired of anything, even having a wild night in London having someone escort you to the restaurants and clubs that get top reviews.

This is especially true with the internet. Of course, it is a good thing that we can be so connected so easily at all times, no matter where we all are in the world. It means friends can always chat, work can always get done quicker, every bit of information can be shared, and great fun can be had. But always having it close to you (with your mobile in your pocket) is certainly not the best way to go about it. Getting too comfortable with this level of immediacy will affect your expectations for everything else in life. It’s amazing that you can order a product and have the package arrive on your doorstep the next day, that you can stream almost any tv or movie or play any video game right away, but it makes engaging with ‘reality’ that much more difficult and dispiriting. 

You think exercising every day is a good thing until you injure yourself doing it, and likewise, you think spending every waking moment online is good until you make a post you regret, order something you didn’t really want, or maybe trust someone you shouldn’t have and get scammed or hurt. 

Take Regular Breaks

‘Moderation is the key’ is a paraphrasing of the general attitude of Greek philosopher Aristotle. It may be several thousand years old, but it is more relevant than ever. Work may demand that you be available to answer email throughout the day, and it’s become normal that we ‘escape’ this grind by doom scrolling through our social media news feeds, but regardless of what we are looking at, the fact that we are looking at all is the problem.

That’s why non-screen activities should be embraced, whether it be reading a book made out of paper or puzzle-making or knitting, or going outside for work and yes, exercising or kicking a ball around. Making an ironclad schedule might not be possible, but try to set aside one hour a day of not using the internet. At first, you could sneak that hour into other activities, like some daily chores or even cooking (which would mean not listening to podcasts while vacuuming or quickly rushing to double-check the recipe!).

Just as plenty of parents are able to put ‘locks’ on their kids’ electronic devices to make sure they don’t spend all day with them, have a friend or loved one do the same for you, putting a password on your mobile for a certain hour or two of the day. One of the best ways to do this is to cordon off areas of your home and call them ‘no-phone zones’. Have certain rooms not be allowed to have a phone or computer in it for part of the morning, evening, or afternoon.

Keeping a Positive Attitude

Saying that 2020 was a lousy year is putting it mildly, and it was too easy to find negative and dispiriting news whenever you started to check any news, sports, or entertainment-focused apps. The fact that we all were going through the same thing is slightly heartening, but that just meant going to friends’ social media pages was the same thing over and over, because either nothing different happened, or something terrible did.

Doom-scrolling is the term given to just going through newsfeeds and seeing all the bad news over and over, with little variation. It’s easy to get sucked into reading people snapping at each other and posting memes about it, because seeing other people ‘work out’ their problems can help you make you temporarily forget yours. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for us, or for how you feel about your own mental health.

Part of getting past this is certainly putting the mobile or laptop down, but it should definitely be acknowledged that the internet has some solutions for this as well. It’s good to find articles that proclaim that social media use can certainly be a net positive for mental health, but this always comes with some caveats.

You have to be the one to decide not to post a snide remark. You have to be the one to take a moment and consider that maybe the person misinterpreted your comment and that you might be misinterpreting theirs. It sounds silly to think that after almost three decades of the internet being part of our lives that we all can’t detect sarcasm, but there’s not much body language or vocal inflections to interpret in a message. Giving people the benefit of the doubt can definitely make you happier.

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