We live so differently from the way people lived less than a hundred years ago – everything is so much more accessible. We use technology daily, and it is simplifying tasks, saving us time, and expanding our horizons. Scientific findings are progressing faster than ever before. Everything points to us thriving as a society.
But we don’t really seem to be thriving when it comes to wellbeing. We’re plagued by numerous health conditions, the “ailments of the modern world”. Many of these conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, are the result of stress, sedentary lifestyles, diets high in processed foods, etc. There are, however, some more surprising ways that the modern life is posing a threat to our health. We’re going to cover them here in order to raise awareness, along with some suggestions on how we can evade them.
As this National Geographic article on light pollution puts it: “All over the globe our nights are growing brighter…”
It’s not just urban areas that are continuously lighted, but even the insides of our homes have little lights blinking continuously from electronics. And our bodies are not built to handle constant light, however small. The circadian rhythm of the human body relies on cycles of light and darkness to function properly. Unsurprisingly, various studies connect the overuse of light at night with a number of health problems such as depression, obesity, sleep disorders, some cancers, and increased risk of diabetes.
What you can do: Try to go to bed early, as tough as this may sound for some. Ensure you sleep in pitch darkness by using blackout curtains and eliminating any sign of light from electronics, no matter how tiny. This type of environment is crucial to improving the quality of sleep, something your body and mind will be thankful for.
As with light, we’re constantly experiencing some level of artificial noise, whether it’s the buzz of traffic or low hum of home appliances. We’ve grown so used to the noise pollution of the modern world that we don’t even realise it, but studies suggest that these low-frequency sounds also affect our health. That’s because all this noise interferes with complex task performance and causes annoyance, modifying social behaviors. It can elevate the levels of stress hormones, be a risk factor in developing heart disease, cause high blood pressure and disrupt normal sleeping patterns.
What you can do: Use earplugs when sleeping and even throughout the day if you live in a big city. Try to ensure some quiet time for yourself – consider a weekend getaway to the countryside or wearing noise-cancelling headphones when you’re using the subway or train.
Now this one might come as no surprise at all when you think about it, but the truth is that we’re not even paying attention to how little rest our brains are really getting. The pace of the modern life is staggering and we’re constantly on our smartphones and tablets, feeding our brain an overwhelming amount of data (most of which is blaring and unnecessary). It all adds up, and many people complain of feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
Thus, a large number of the population gets through their everyday sluggishly, lacking energy and focus. Living in a world that never sleeps is proving to have some detrimental effects on our wellbeing, and plays a big role in the widespread appearance of anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.
What you can do: This issue requires you to approach your lifestyle with mindfulness and seek balance. That means you need a holistic mindset, tending carefully to each aspect of your wellbeing – from your personal relationships to your diet and fitness. Meditation is a great tool to help clear your mind of all the excess information the modern lifestyle imposes on us. A digital detox can also be beneficial to your focus and energy. If you experience the symptoms of burnout, supplementation can aid recovery when you pair it with fitness, diet, and of course, rest. Formulas that rely on a natural mitochondrial support are designed to promote the function of the cell’s powerhouse. They’re known to enhance energy levels, help form a healthy response to physical and mental fatigue, and promote focus and memory.
Did you know that the average workweek is now longer than before? Research shows that the average worker in the United States works 47 hours weekly, with Singaporeans working the longest hours in the world, and we can expect the workweek to be prolonged in the rest of the world as well. The same report showed that 18% of the full-time employees work more than 60 hours weekly.
This means not only more time spent sitting (for most people) but less time for family, social life, hobbies, fitness, personal goals, preparing food, etc. That’s a serious blow at the numerous aspects that make up your wellbeing, the things you need to live a happy and fulfilled life. As a result, depression and anxiety are widespread, and knowing that the body works as a unique interconnected system, it all contributes to a greater risk of physical ailments and weakened immune system.
What you can do: This is a tricky one that everybody is trying to deal with. Moderation is very important, and it’s crucial that we all strive for a healthy balance between rest and work. Slow down in a smart way and you won’t lose your efficiency. When you are in the office, do also take some time to rest and stretch or break the sedentary workday. Always pinpoint your values – would you rather have less and take it easy in your career if it means having more time to tend to your inherent needs?
We’ve evolved a lot as a species, and we’re still evolving. The modern lifestyle is shaping the future generations and it’s giving way to numerous issues. It is important that we are all aware of how the modern life is affecting us and our children, and that we constantly strive to preserve our wellbeing in such a world. So take a break, spend some time in nature, and get in touch with your inner self – away from all the relentless sensory input.
Contributed by Caitlin Evans.
Photos credit: unsplash.com