Do You Need a Digital Detox?

Have you ever felt slightly panicked when you’re separated from your phone? Do you know how many hours a day you spend on your digital devices? Do you feel your online activities have a positive effect on your overall well being?

Those are all important questions. And another to consider: Does doing a digital detox feel like a good idea for your health? Or does it simply sound impossible?

A More Conscious Approach To Technology

The truth is that we could all benefit from a more mindful approach to our digital lives. And for many of us, a short “detox” period can help us put the role of technology into perspective.

The Benefits Of Reducing Screen time

If you’re wondering about cutting back on your screen time, check out these potential benefits.

Less Comparison

Do you ever feel like your life isn’t quite measuring up after logging in to your social media accounts? Many of us end up wondering why everyone else takes such great vacations, looks so good, and has such perfect children.

The old adage “don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides” certainly applies to social media. However, the cumulative effect of “comparisonitis” can take a significant toll on our mental health. Many studies confirm a link between Internet use and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Better Mental Health

Of course, this relationship may work both ways. For example, have you ever looked down at your cell phone to avoid social interactions? Sometimes we see our phones as “security blankets.” Unfortunately, however, these kinds of habits can only reinforce anxiety. In other words, in addition to triggering anxiety and depression, we may be more likely to turn to the online world when we’re anxious or depressed.

Excessive time on digital devices can also lead to habits that can harm our mental and physical health. One study found that people who are on their phones a lot are less likely to eat regular meals, follow a healthy diet, and get a good night’s sleep. That all adds up to an increased risk of depression and other health issues.

Improved Brain Function

Even more alarming is the physical effect of screen time on our brain. It’s true: Screen time can actually change the structure of our brain. The results include impaired processing, reduced ability to focus, and “dopamine loops” in which we become addicted to the hit from the feel-good chemical dopamine. After all, who doesn’t get a small thrill of satisfaction when someone likes their Instagram post? That kind of instant gratification is often missing from our offline lives. In fact, researchers have found that the dopamine cycle connected to Internet use and video games is similar to that experienced with drug addiction.

More Restful Sleep

The blue light from our digital devices affects melatonin production. The result? Difficulty falling and staying asleep. Even more troubling are possible links between blue light exposure at night and an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and depression.

Better Posture

You may have experienced “tech neck” or a sore thumb after spending a long time on your phone. As well, researchers note that the slumping posture that develops while using digital devices can also affect your breathing. One study found that 83 percent of people with neck pain have altered breathing patterns.

Better Hormonal And Cellular Health

One researcher found that people tend to hold their breath when checking their devices. This habit can trigger the “flight or fight “response, in which the body becomes primed for flight. That process served us well in the past, when our body’s response helped us escape predators, but if you’re checking a social media status while sitting down, you can just end up with a lot of extra glucose, adrenalin, and cortisol in your system.

As well, our increased reliance on technology has led to high levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation in our bodies. Although the long-term effects need to be studied further, some evidence links this exposure to an increased risk of neurological disease.

Are you ready for a digital detox?

So, what exactly is a digital detox? Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you’re inspired by the list of possible benefits above, you may be ready to implement your own detox from technology. However, as with many behavior modifications, a slow and realistic approach is often more successful. Your long-term goal could be a weekend (or even a week) without any devices.

Digital Detox Retreats

Digital-detox retreats are a growing trend in the travel business, and provide opportunities to be pampered in spa-like conditions, or to pursue recreation adventures, all without a digital device. There are alternative free options too, of course, such as implementing your own retreat! Examples can be planning a weekend hike in a local area and connecting with nature, or spending time indoors with your kids, a book or your journal. Be creative!

Creating Healthy Digital Habits

Before starting a cold-turkey detox, it’s a good idea to simply be more mindful of your device use. Pay attention to when and why you pick up your phone. Make it a habit to put it away if you don’t need it. Make it a habit to put away any digital devices at least an hour before bedtime.

Fighting FOMO

As you adjust to having reduced online time in your life, try going an entire day without checking a device. This might be uncomfortable at first. Recognize your FOMO (fear of missing out) feelings and acknowledge that really, if something urgent happened, you would hear about it. Remind yourself that don’t really need to know every detail of your friends’ lives, or every piece of celebrity (or political) gossip in real time. In other words, the urgency the Internet can create is not real.

Top Tips For Your Digital Detox

Here are some tips that can help you set up your own digital detox retreat, on a level that works for you.

  1. Make your bedroom a cellphone-free zone
    If you don’t have a landline and you’re worried that your loved ones won’t be able to contact you in an emergency (for example, if you have teenage kids who work late at night), simply put it on the other side of the room, with the volume turned up high enough so that you can hear it. And put it face down so other notifications won’t disturb your sleep.
  2. Choose your activities wisely
    Even in today’s wired world, you can find places where cell phones can’t be used. If you’re swimming, hiking, practicing yoga, or watching a movie, you can’t check your Facebook updates. And you might end up having more fun.
  3. “Go old school”
    We think of our phones as indispensable, but for centuries, people survived without them just fine. And fortunately, many “real-life” tools exist that can do the tasks we rely on our phones for. If you’re worried about losing the functions on your phone, consider a few alternatives:
    – A paper calendar or day planner to book appointments
    – An alarm clock to wake up
    – Books – read them in yellow or natural light.
    – Letters or cards sent through the post office. (Who doesn’t love receiving an old-fashioned, hand-written letter?)
    – A classic watch
    – A camera
    – A landline phone. We tend to think of the landline as unnecessary, but just over 40 percent of households still have one, and they provide a reliable back-up for getting in touch.
  4. Reschedule your email habits
    Many busy executives try to put aside specific times of the day for checking emails. That means they’re not looking for new messages every 30 seconds, or reading every notification. If this makes you feel anxious, remind yourself that in most instances, emails don’t need an immediate response. Try using an out-of-office response letting people know how to contact you in an emergency.
  5. Use technology
    Yes, the idea that technology can help reduce your tech use is ironic. However, many apps and programs can measure the time you spend on your phone. If you don’t do this already, try monitoring it for a few days to get a baseline of your usage.
  6. Get your friends and family on board
    If you have contacts who expect an immediate response to every text, let them know you’re dialing back on screen time.

    Similarly, if you’re out at a social event like a restaurant dinner, suggest everyone put their phones away. Perhaps the first person to check their device pays for dinner!

  7. Listen to your body
    How do you feel after a few hours without technology? Get in touch with any anxiety you feel that needs to be addressed. And it’s also important to note the positives. Do you notice more of the world around you?
  8. Get help if you need it
    If you’re worried about your digital media use and you’re not sure where to get help, or if you’re wondering if you’re actually addicted to technology, help is available! Give our office a call if you’d like to talk about switching to a healthier, more conscious path.
  9. References:

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
    https://www.cbsnews.com/video/new-study-links-phone-use-and-mental-health-issues-in-teens/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5970452/
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215303332
    https://www.ejradiology.com/article/S0720-048X%2809%2900589-0/abstract
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google
    https://www.statista.com/chart/2072/landline-phones-in-the-united-states/
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/just-breathe-building-the_b_85651

Thinning, brittle hair? Check your hormones!

Luscious locks. Flowing tresses. Who doesn’t want to have a full head of shiny hair? Our culture certainly gives us the message that beautiful hair symbolizes youth and beauty.

However, particularly as we age, many of us find that the soft, full hair we may have taken for granted in our younger days starts to fade and becomes thinner and more brittle. These changes can happen to both men and women.

As You Age, So Does Your Hair

Of course, it makes sense that hair can be damaged as we age. Because hair grows so slowly (less than half an inch every month), the hair on your head may have experienced years of sun exposure and damage from the elements. It also is affected by hormonal changes in our bodies which play a role in both hair growth, texture, and those pesky grey hairs of course!

Searching For The Fountain Of Hair Youth

What’s the solution? The beauty industry tells us the secret to beautiful hair is finding the right “products.” And it’s definitely possible to spend hundreds of dollars trying to find the perfect match.

However, no matter how many shampoo reviews you read, you can only find so much hair magic in a bottle. In fact, many shampoos and other hair products can actually damage your hair because they contain harmful substances.

The truth is that beautiful hair starts from within. As a result, what we put into our bodies is far more important than what we put on our hair.

Laying A Foundation For Stronger, Fuller, Faster-Growing Hair

To fully understand the impact of lifestyle choices on your hair, it helps to know more about its composition – the main building blocks that give hair its strength and structure.

Keratin

Hair strands are composed of a protein called keratin (in fact, so are your nails). One of the primary components in keratin is choline, an essential nutrient with many roles in the body that is found in a variety of foods such as eggs, salmon and cauliflower.

Biotin

Vitamin B7 (also known as biotin) contributes to the formation of keratin. Because of this relationship, it’s not surprising that scientists have found that being deficient in biotin can lead to hair loss. In fact, one study found that supplementing with biotin helped slow hair loss in women with thinning hair, leading to fuller, shinier hair as well as smoother skin after 6 months.

The Gut Health Connection To Good Hair

Interestingly, scientists have also found that the amount of bad bacteria in our gut affects the formation of biotin. That means that beautiful hair isn’t necessarily as simple as making sure you have consumed enough biotin. Your digestion and absorption need to be working right too.

Factors that can positively influence the delicate balance of gut bacteria, and in turn improve biotin production, include managing your stress levels, keeping sugary snacks in check and ensuring your nutrition is balanced.

Top Tips For Healthy Hair:

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the factors behind healthy hair, how can you overcome the effects of aging and environmental damage? Check out these tips for a healthy head of hair.

1. Check your hormone levels.

Cortisol isn’t the only hormone that can impact your hair health. If you’re experiencing hair loss or changes to hair texture, you should check the levels of your other hormones as well.

For example, low levels of thyroid hormone can indicate a stressed-out thyroid. One of the thyroid’s “lesser” jobs is to regulate hair growth, however in times of stress the body will focus all of the thyroid’s energies on more important functions such as regulating the body’s temperature and metabolism. Hence thinning hair is one of many possible symptoms of lowered thyroid function.

Low estrogen, which may be a sign of perimenopause or other hormonal imbalances, can also lead to hair troubles. While slower growth of pubic and underarm hair might easily go unnoticed, an estrogen imbalance can mean that androgens have a stronger effect on hair follicles, leading to thinning hair on the head, and even rogue chin hairs.

These are just a few reasons why the best start to improving your hair’s texture and fullness begins with testing to see where your hormonal levels are and ensuring you are balanced.

2. Make sure you consume enough Biotin.

Good sources of biotin include:
            Liver
            Salmon
            Carrots
            Bananas
            Wheat Germ
            Whole Grains
            Chicken
            Nuts

(Bonus: Biotin will also strengthen your nails!)

3. Eat plenty of protein.

This may seem like a no-brainer, since hair is composed of protein. Keep in mind that your protein sources don’t have to be meat-based, since the protein found in plant sources are just as effective.

In addition to biotin, the amino acid cystine assists in the formation of keratin. Good sources of cystine include garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oats, wheat germ, sprouted lentils and eggs.

4. Watch your mineral intake.

One of the many roles of minerals in the body is growth, and iron and zinc in particular contribute to keratin formation which helps your hair to grow strong.

Zinc can also protect your hair from sun damage just as zinc oxide in sunscreens can protect your skin from sunburn, and zinc helps your body flush out excess insulin too. Good sources of zinc include shellfish, beans, and seeds.

5. Reduce your sugar consumption.

When you eat a lot of sugar, your blood sugar rises. In response, your body produces more of the hormone insulin and androgens such as testosterone, which have a shrinking effect on hair follicles. That means your hair could start growing finer and more brittle.

6. Don’t smoke.

Smoking increases the speed at which your body breaks down and excretes biotin, reducing the amount of biotin in your blood and leading to weaker hair and nail growth.

7. Avoid high-mercury foods.

Consumption of food with high levels of mercury has been linked to hair loss. Some kinds of tuna, swordfish and mackerel can all contain high levels of mercury.

8. Boost your intake of fruits and veggies.

To protect your hair, you want to reduce the damage that can be caused by free radicals. Those are compounds that can damage your cells, and they’re often created by environmental factors and the internal processes that can be triggered by stress.

Free radicals can lead to lifeless, gray hair. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and restore your hair’s shine. Fruits and vegetables can provide the key antioxidants for healthy hair: Vitamins A, C, and E.

9. Consider collagen supplements.

Choline, one of the building blocks of keratin, is found in collagen. Collagen can also strengthen the layer of your skin that contains hair follicles. (This layer of skin is called the dermis). With a stronger anchor point, hair is less likely to fall out.

10. Choose hair products carefully.

Many shampoos, conditioners, and styling products contain ingredients that can be hard on your hair and unhealthy for you. The reality is that many of them don’t address hair problems where they originate – in the protein structure of the hair itself. Instead, they “gloss” over any problems with superficial coverings. Plus, many substances used in hair products can be absorbed by your skin, and have been linked to cancer. In addition, many are harmful to the environment. So avoid products with sulfates, parabens, and silicones. Your hair will thank you!

If you’re experiencing issues with your hair, it may be time to test your hormones and make sure your gut health is supporting your hair goals not impeding them!

GIve our office a call we are happy to help.

References:

https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/109/9/djx202/4102324
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27538002
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201279/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4174066/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=28813664
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509882/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428712/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=27554239