Screens and Qi
Remember when you would leave the house with just your keys and wallet? And if you missed a phone call, a message would be waiting for you when you returned home? People did not expect phone calls to be returned in record speed. There was a pause, a space between things, and everyone had a little more patience.
If you wanted to look up information for a subject you were researching, you might head to the library and spend a few hours going through books made of paper! With today’s technology, this process has become incredibly sped up. Infinite amounts of information are readily available on the internet, requiring little to no work for us in terms of research and fact-checking. Continuous access to wifi and data is the new normal.
Many of the “conveniences” that modern-day technology touts drive higher and more unrealistic expectations that people will accomplish everything at lightning speed instead of allowing processes to naturally occur. In fact, they actually force your Qi out of alignment, and pull your energy away from its natural state of being in rhythm with the natural environment. Constant exposure to these innovations is taxing to your Qi.
Kids born after 1995 are the first generation to have continuous access to touchscreens. Today, it’s perceived as an anomaly to not have a smartphone, while when this technology was first starting, it was a rarity to have access. We’ve seen a huge shift from minimal exposure to constant and dependable use. Investigators are concerned that long-term exposure is essentially an uncontrolled experiment because the results of our habits won’t show up until years down the line.
Right now, research is being conducted to specifically identify the long-term effects of technology exposure on the brains of growing children. Researchers with the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (ABCD), carried out through the United States’ National Institute of Health, recently released preliminary results of a study that is seeking to understand how prolonged screen exposure affects developing brains of young children.
Although the results are preliminary, and the researchers caution that it’s too early to know what they really mean, it’s nonetheless alarming to see they show actual evidence of changes to the cortex of the brain (premature thinning) in children who spent more the seven hours a day on electronic devices. Brain cortex thinning is a process that is supposed to occur with the natural progression of maturation and aging, but now it’s being sped up, just like the depletion of Qi.
Furthermore, these negative effects are magnified by the addictive nature of smartphones. The complex capabilities of a smartphone allows for algorithms to be continuously redesigned and updated so your attention span is stretched in order to keep you on your phone longer and longer. Thousands of engineers are working on the other side of your phone to help it attract more of your attention, which makes it hard to properly monitor your usage and reduce your screen time.
Luckily, there is no rule that says you are absolutely required to stay connected and online!
The best time of day to work on computers and have exposure to screen time is the same as when you should do your most strenuous work: when the sun rises and your yang Qi is at its highest. The second half of the day should be shutting down and getting away from exposure to screens. Why? Because the bright blue-toned LED light of a computer screen reduces melatonin (necessary to regulate sleep) and affects your sleep pattern.
If your screen exposure is persistent in the second half of the day, when your yin Qi is supposed to be cultivated to prepare for rest and a good night’s sleep, you end up triggering a second wind of yang Qi. This inevitably leads to the overstimulation of yang Qi; more specifically, the liver Qi becomes fired up and harasses the spirit.
The liver Qi is supposed to do most of its work from the hours of 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., to build and nourish blood for the entire body. In order to do this, the yang Qi needs to be at rest. If you decided that being a night owl is best for your productivity, think again! You are actually pushing your Qi levels out of whack and creating an overstimulation of yang Qi. And, night after night, your brain and Qi flow will continue to fall into this space, because the body becomes more and more conditioned to repeat the same routine for minimal sleep as the night before.
Try to cut off screen time two to four hours before bed. Even better, shut down your screen exposure once you’ve left the office. Try reading actual paper books or newspapers—these do not drain your yin Qi and there’s no blue light to interfere with melatonin production.
If you find yourself working on a computer for more than eight hours a day, make it a priority to examine your work routine and create a new schedule. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind yourself to get up and move around after every 60 minutes of computer work. Look away from the monitor every 30 minutes or so. Watch your posture and practice breathing from the diaphragm and the core, not your chest. Request a standing work station so you can shift and dance! Woot woot!
As well, watch out if you rely on an abundance of apps to make your life easier at all times of day. This only prolongs your screen time, creating yin Qi deficiency. Look for ways to reduce your need to be on your smartphone, except for necessary activities like making a phone call or sending a text—not surfing the net!
Try writing down your appointments in a book agenda, and tracking your routines with a calendar that you hang on your fridge. Consider setting yourself a time limit for returning emails, such as 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.—nothing earlier, and nothing later. Set healthy boundaries.
Start looking at where you’re overly dependent on apps, and determine if you can live without them. Delete, delete, delete—you can do this! Reset your routines and simplify your smartphone use. Less is more!
Overall, just remember, there’s nothing convenient about damaging your health. The less you overstimulate your yang Qi with excess screen time, the more yin Qi you’ll have available to maintain your health and vitality.
So, slow down and don’t give in to others and their impatience. You can set the tone, slow your yang Qi, and enjoy let your yin Qi do its job to keep you young!