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Health and Wellness

This module explores the effects of digital habits on your mental and physical health.  Included here are tools and techniques to examine personal digital use, identify warning signs & employ mitigating techniques.

PLEASE NOTE: this page provides information ONLY. We do not provide medical or other professional advice. If you require advice, you need to speak with an expert. 

Tips

  • Check your DeskAssess your workstation area with the Ontario Ministry of Labour's Guide:  Computer Ergonomics: Workstation Layout and Lighting.  Small changes can make a big difference in your comfort.
  • Sleep Tech-freeLimiting tech use at bedtime will help you get a better sleep, so you can feel good and be productive in the day. Experts recommend that you eliminate smartphone use in the hour before bed, and avoid charging your phone in the bedroom.
  • Get Mindful with your MobileIs real life passing you by while you check your phone and scroll endlessly? Taking a day or two to track your mobile habits will illuminate any areas of concern. We've got lots of tips to help you here.
  • Never Text while Driving!Not only is it extremely dangerous, it's against the law! The Ontario Ministry of Transportation provides information about Distracted Driving and answers some FAQs.

Internet Addiction

Addictive behaviours around internet use include:

  • preoccupation with online activities interferes with social, occupational or other areas functioning.
  • experience of withdrawal symptoms (eg. irritability, trouble sleeping, cravings) when attempting to reduce the activity
  • hiding or lying about the amount of time you spend online
  • depending on internet activities to escape from negative feelings

 

Internet habits may be associated with other 'behavioural addictions" such as shopping or pornography, but Gambling Disorder is currently the only behavioural addiction in the DSM-5.

Internet Addiction is not considered a distinct mental disorder, as it lacks some criteria of conventionally recognized addictions and may be a symptom or manifestation of other, existing disorders.  The DSM-V has recommended Internet Gaming Disorder for further study.

 

Sources:
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed. (DSM-5). 2013.

Some people may benefit from engaging with support groups such as those below.  Caution should be used to make sure that participation does not become an excuse to spend more time online, and that the group's values are aligned with your own.

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Ergonomics

People who do continuous, intensive computer work, such as data entry, for prolonged periods during a shift are at increased risk of developing a number of health problems. These include: visual fatigue, headaches, upper limb musculoskeletal injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome), and back pain (Ontario Ministry of Labour)

Try incorporating these preventative habits into your routine:

  • Take short brisk walks throughout the day. Besides helping your physical health, you can relieve stress and improve concentration
  • Try using the mouse with your non-dominant hand for a while. It cuts down on RSI risk and it's good for your brain!
  • Do gentle stretches regularly throughout the day
  • 'Stretch' your eyes once in a while.  Focus on a distant object for 30 seconds, then a mid-range object for 30 seconds

 

There are a variety of customizable apps available for your desktop computer that will remind you to take a walk, stretch, or exercise your eyes. Using an app can really help mitigate the health risks of sitting at a computer all day long.

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Sleep

Good 'sleep hygiene' is critical for academic performance, productivity, mood, mental health, physical fitness and more. Some technology habits severely disrupt human sleep patterns and can cause cumulative sleep deprivation.

The fascinating science of sleep, by a renowned circadian neuroscientist (22 minutes)

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