We love our smart phones, but our bodies don’t always love the way we (ab)use them while we’re texting, surfing the internet, playing a game, or even making a phone call! I’ve been planning on blogging about this for a while, and with the spate of articles recently with dire warnings about the hazards to our health*, now seemed like the perfect time.
When we’re engrossed in our phone, there are many traps we can easily fall into that aren’t so healthy for us.
There’s a common misconception that the slumped posture so many people adopt while using their phone is, while not ideal, at least “relaxed.” Unfortunately, mindlessly spending lots of time in this sort of collapse can put all sorts of strain on our body – the neck is tight and compressed; the torso is collapsed in on itself, restricting breathing and squashing the many organs vital to our overall health and well-being; shoulders are rounded and locked in place; eyes are narrowly focused onto that tiny screen, to name but a few!
It does not, however, have to be that way. Through the Alexander Technique we can learn to expand our awareness to encompass not only our phone, but our body and surroundings too. We can learn to create better habits in the way we coordinate out body doing all sorts of things, which will inform how we use our smart phone, even when, inevitably and naturally, we forget about everything else. We can learn some very simple anatomy, so we have an accurate idea of how our body is designed to move. And we can learn simple ways of thinking – of directing our body – that promote freedom and ease, and discourage tension and strain.
Quick Pointers for Using your Smart Phone with Ease:
- Check in with your balancing points.
Are you sitting on your sit bones, or standing in a way so your weight is evenly distributed? Are you sinking down into yourself, or balancing so your body is able to release up and out?
- What’s going on with your head?
Is it poking out in front of your body, or dropped right down toward the screen. Imagine your head to be poised on top of your spine, so your neck is easy and long. It can help to hold your phone up higher, and just use your eyes to just lightly look at it. Deploy the BITY (Bring It To You) principle – i.e. bring your phone up to you, rather that dropping your head down to your phone. “BITY” was coined by my colleague, Eve Bernfeld, and you can read about it in this blog.
Many of us start holding our breath the moment we focus on that screen. Letting go of the breath and allowing yourself to breath naturally goes a long way to releasing tension throughout your body.
- What are you thinking?
Consciously or unconsciously, we are often sending ourselves messages like “I have to get this done,” I have so much to do,” or “I’m bored!” Our thoughts and emotions are not separate from our body and play a huge part in we use our whole selves. If we feel under pressure (real or imagined) to get things done, that imparts tension through our whole system. If we’re feeling bored or tired, we are likely to collapse our body, compressing neck, spine and more. Being aware of this means we have the opportunity to change. We are in charge of our own thoughts, and can choose to think differently, in a way that will support and encourage a free, open posture and release of tension.
Sometimes it is just that simple, though of course it is never easy to overcome unconscious habits, and that is why developing an awareness of what we are doing is so important. Getting instruction in the Alexander Technique is the best way I know of learning how to do this!
Whenever you remember, giving yourself time to pause, notice, think and respond is the key. And bear in mind, our bodies are made for movement and there is no one “right” position, so variety is helpful.
Do you find using your beloved smart phone to be challenging at times? In what ways does it affect you? What do you find helpful? Please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
And if you can think of any good captions for what I could have been thinking in the before and after photos, let me know!