Looking at the Screen is Just As Tiring as a Physical Workout

Many people are not aware of the serious health problems that are caused just by sitting all day in front of their computer.

They may just be doing mundane and not so mundane stuff like sending emails, writing reports and other business work on their laptops all day long. And no matter what you do, you end up feeling stressed out afterwards.

A number of times I spend my day working on my laptop and I end up not only mentally stressed but also physically exhausted as well. So why is that? After all, we are not using physical labor that much. And now, scientists have pretty much proven that staring at your computer display all day long can be pretty tiring.

Mental vs Physical Fatigue

‘Mental fatigue’ can be equally bad as ‘physical fatigue’. You would think I didn’t even move an inch in the room, how can I be feeling so exhausted? But Dr. Steven Feinsilver, Director of Sleep Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, has confirmed that your body’s reaction to the mental stress is the same as to a physical workout. Mental fatigue is very much possible.

Just as your body needs more oxygen when you are doing a physical workout, in the same way your brain needs more oxygen too when it is thinking or is stressed about something.

Dr. Feinsilver explained:

Your heart will pump and you’ll produce adrenaline whether somebody’s chasing you, or you’re just really upset about something.

Your muscles normally aren’t sucking a lot of oxygen out of you. With exercise, they will. But the brain always takes a lot of your energy.

Emotions Take up Energy Too

Just like a contagious viral, human emotions are contagious too, maybe even more. Everyone knows that you can find yourself yawning after looking at someone yawning in real or even in a picture. Just like that, moods can be caught too without you even being aware of it.

“Emotions are pretty much contagious, so the environment you’re in can make you exhausted,” says Dr. Curtis Reisinger, clinical psychologist at Zucker Hillside Hospital.

“If you’re with a group of people who are all talking about how stressed and fatigued they are, over time, this will become a normative behavior for the group.”  So it is pretty much possible that you catch your coworkers mood.

If you are sitting in your office and everyone is talking about how slow the day is moving and how bored and tired they are of their jobs, in no time your energy levels will drop too, even without realizing it. You will find negative, stressful all vibes around you.

Its Not Just All in Your Head

Physical exhaustion occurs when your mind is trying to form emotional and mental responses to the stimuli around you. Here Reisinger refers to the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett, much of whose work centers on the premise that our brains create our emotions by forming predictions based on past experiences. It’s like based upon the past experience, your mind is constantly predicting what will happen next.

How the other person will respond when you are being interviewed or how the audience will react to your speech? Your body is constantly preparing itself to act if the prediction turns too. Ultimately, even running through those possibilities mentally can drain your energy out and by the end of the day you will feel exhausted both mentally and physically.

Reisinger added:

You don’t jump off the couch, but if you measure someone’s heart rate or their galvanic skin response, you’ll see that those physiological measures change, and that’s where the fatigue comes from.

Also, people who are at risk of having anxiety attacks and depression think more about the possibilities of the future which can further aggravate their problem. They also seem to face the issue of mental exhaustion more and more as well.

Taking Care of Yourself

To relieve ourselves out of this mental exhaustion, it is important that we take care of our brain just as we would take care of our body after physical exhaustion.

One good way to do is to sleep well. Physical exertion can get you good sleep.

Dr. Feinsilver says, “we’re animals that are designed to exercise physically as well as mentally.”

She adds:

Mental exertion is real, and certainly may be tiring, but I think it’s probably true that physical exertion makes it more likely that you’ll get a good night’s sleep.

“The general rule of thumb is, at least every half hour or so you get up and take a walk down the hall, get a glass of water, do some knee bends.

People get dehydrated when they sit, and hydration is very, very important to how you feel.

Take short walks or trips if your work involves sitting too much in front of that monitor. No only will get you moving and also give your brain the rest that it needs, but it will keep you from being exhausted completely by the time you are done with your work.

Via NYMag

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