Turning Off

I remember when we got our very first computer when I was in grade 6.  As a family we all had to take turns using it, everyone getting kind of a priority slot to when they were able to spend time on the magical new techno-savvy device.  We even made a room dedicated to its soul existence (the computer room!). When I think back I don’t even really know what I would do with my ‘computer time’.  I didn’t have an e-mail address until more of my other friends started getting computers, and ICQ or MSN weren’t even around at that time.  I remember playing a lot of games and using an Encyclopedia program with lots of pictures and sounds that I can’t remember the name of now.  I’m sure many of you have similar stories to when you first started getting introduced to the world wide web; how you spent your time using it, when you created your first e-mail address (most likely something HIGHLY creative and cute like oreo_cookie56 or sugar_babe87).

My next major introduction to the digital world was the allowance of my first cell phone when I was in grade 9.  Even then I was still one of the only ones amongst my friends to have one and my parents said it was more of an “emergency device” if anything.  Slowly more of my friends started getting them, and by the time I was in grade 12 texting was the new thing. 

Slowly we started to buy more computers for my house; one in my brother’s room, one in mine, and one in the computer room.  From there, I blame the introduction of MSN instant messenger for my newly budding ‘technology addiction’.  More and more time was spent sitting idly, staring at the fluorescent glow of the computer screen typing and chatting away listening to my then cool and current Big Shiny Tunes album.  My parents bought me my first laptop as a present for my first year at western, and since then it is not often that I find myself using a desktop.  Add in the introduction of Facebook towards the end of my first year and BAM: you have what I would like to call online addiction

How many of you actually know the amount of hours you spend online or on a handheld device daily? According to IDC a data management company, Americans are spending approximately 32.7 hours/week online. This is equivalent to almost half of the total time spent each week using all other media (70.6 hours), almost twice as much time as spent watching television (16.4 hours), and more than eight times as much time as spent reading newspapers and magazines (3.9 hours).

I also found this interesting breakdown of internet data from an online article called “The Internet in Numbers”:

  • 107 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2010.  
  • 294 billion – Average number of email messages per day.

  • 255 million – The number of websites as of December 2010.
  • 21.4 million – Added websites in 2010.

Social media
  • 152 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
  • 100 million – New accounts added on Twitter in 2010
  • 175 million – People on Twitter as of September 2010
  •  7.7 million – People following @ladygaga (Lady Gaga, Twitter’s most followed user).
  •  600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010.
  •  250 million – New people on Facebook in 2010.

Our scattered time and attention is becoming less and less a part of the real tangible, physical world, and increasingly more a part of the online digital one.  When was the last time you went for a walk with solely the intent being that of going for a walk (not to get from point A to point B)?  When was the last time you lost yourself in an activity you loved like reading or listening to music?  Better yet, when was the last time you sat in silence with yourself for more than 10 minutes doing nothing but just that: being?  Multitasking has now become so engrained in our everyday behavior it’s hard to think of the few daily activities where we are 100% focused on a single task; may that be reading a book, going for a run, practicing yoga, or simply listening and being present with a loved one.

People often forget that there is a mind body connection that is directly related to our health and wellbeing.  Taking the time to nourish our minds by letting ourselves turn off and unplug helps us stay in touch with ourselves, and also allows our brains to produce a more balanced set of different wavelengths.  It is so important to let our brains have some time to disassociate from constant stimuli in order to process all the new things we learn every day, and also to quiet the constant chatter we have in our minds which we often don't even notice until we make the conscious effort of shutting it off.

Although meditation is one of the best ways to access a more quiet ‘unplugged’ state, I personally know how difficult it can be to even set aside that 10-20 min in the day to practice.  A great small exercise you can do that takes almost no time at all is a simple deep breathing technique with some visualization:
  • wherever you are, stop what you are doing, close your eyes and inhale deeply, allowing your whole lungs to fill with fresh new oxygen
  • with this filling, visualize a wave or tide of water coming into your lungs and filling them to the brim
  • exhale naturally, letting your chest fall gently, visualizing the outswing of the tide, or the breaking of the wave receding back into the ocean

Do this for at least 3 breaths and you will be amazed at how something so simple can alter your current state.  Deep breathing helps massage your internal organs, eliminate toxins, reduces stress, elevates mood, increases immune function, and SO many other amazingly beneficial things.  It's crazy to think how simple it is.  Why not give it a try right now?


A long time athlete and health advocate,  Dr. Kumentas’ goal is to help her patients become excited about making positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier, happier lives.  Her driving force is a passion for healing the whole person on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using carefully selected natural therapies, fitness, and integrated medicine.  She truly believes in the importance of practising what you preach and investing in your health.  
Dr. Nadia Kumentas practices at Zen Beginnings Wellness Centre in Toronto and has a special interest in dermatology, woman’s health, and pain management.

To learn more about Dr. Nadia Kumentas visit www.DrNadiaKumentas.com or contact her at nadia@zenbeginnings.com.



uncertain said...

i love how i had to come on the internet on one of my many devices to learn how to get off the internet! THANKS NAD you're the best.

Nadia said...

My point exactly. Glad you liked the post! :)

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