Saturday, October 10, 2015

Get up buddy!

I remember attending a major event in my life when I was in class 8 a couple of decades back. There was an institute named ‘Universal’ in my small home town of Changanacherry. They were having a very unique exhibition for which my dad took me and my brother. That was the first time ever in my life I saw this magical machine called ‘computer’. They showed us a CPU, a monitor, a keyboard and even a Floppy Disk! There was a wonderful game running on the black and white monitor which was called ‘Prince of Persia’. That day, little did I realize that these machines will have a major influence in my future life!

Years went by and computers in various shapes, sizes and colors have become part of our routine. It has become so much an integral part of our lives that it is almost impossible to spend a day without interacting with these brilliant innovations in one form or other. This also means that many of us tend to spend a considerable amount of time in front of these mean machines every day at work or at home.

A good number of professions around the world demand spending a lot of time at a stretch in front of these machines. Professions such as IT, Banking & Finance, Insurance, Customer Service and many more make you glued to your chairs for most part of the day staring at the monitors where your work gets done. This has a serious impact on one vital part of your body; your spine or backbone!

The human backbone is like a multistorey building where bones are stacked on top of each other with a disc in between each one. Bones as you know are pretty strong, but be aware of the fact that the discs are made of a softer material with a tough outer portion and a jelly like inner portion. These are meant to act as shock absorbers and as ligaments that hold the spine intact.

What’s important to note is the fact that the longer you remain in a specific position the more pressure you give to these building blocks. This leads to increased pressure to the discs and over a period of time the jelly like portion won’t be able to withstand the pressure anymore and will come out by tearing the tougher outer portion. This leads to reduced shock absorbing capacity for your backbone as well as added pressure to your spinal cord. So any extra load on your spinal cord will have an immediate impact on your health!

The symptoms usually start with minor back pain which increases over a period of time. It is extremely important not to ignore these minor pains and let it worsen to reach a point of no-return. The more serious scenarios are disc herniation commonly known as slip disc or to make it worse a complete paralysis resulting from a damaged spinal cord! The age old saying perfectly fits here. Prevention is better than cure.

There are many things including regular exercise that we could do to avoid such a situation. Here is a pretty simple action that you could do to save yourself from the perils of this obvious danger. Many of us who sit in front of the computers for a long time tend to forget to get up in between. It is important to take a quick break every half an hour at least by simply standing up for a few seconds giving the much needed relaxation for your backbone.

Most of us access official mails on one of the E-mail providers such as Outlook, Lotus Notes etc. There will be a reminder functionality on these applications. Set up a reminder for every 30 minutes that will pop-up to give you a message ‘Get up buddy!’ The moment you see the message just do the simple act of getting up from your chair and look somewhere else other than your monitor. This has a double benefit of providing a relaxation for both your spine and your eyes. If possible you could move around a bit before coming back to your seat. Once back on your seat, snooze the task so that it’ll remind you again in the next 30 minutes. Follow this regularly.

This is one of the easiest activities to follow to ensure that you do not overburden your spine. This will at least help you remember to do a simple activity that has a long term benefit. Go ahead and set up the reminder. The best buddies are the ones who really care for you. May this reminder be your best buddy while working on your computers!

Tail End: Don’t think that people who do not sit and work have nothing to worry. As I mentioned earlier, the longer you remain in a specific position, bigger the impact is. Ensure that you give your spine a chance to relax at regular intervals.

Wishing you a happy & healthy life! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Who’s in Control?

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Oct 2015

One of these days while my family was back in India for a few days, I was returning from the Church on a weekend morning. I dropped in at a restaurant on the way home to have breakfast. Soon after I placed my order and was having a chat with the bearer, two guys came in and sat at the table next to me and placed their orders.

Within a few minutes one of the guys got a call and started having a conversation while the other one was browsing on his phone. Very soon the second one also got a call and soon he was on full throttle with his conversation too. Meanwhile the breakfast was served at their table and they had the food all the while continuing on their phones. The whole of the breakfast was spent talking over the phone and while I was paying my bill at the counter, both of them were still conversing on their mobiles.

I remember a few years back when we didn’t have this thing called ‘smart phone’, a time together with family and friends at a restaurant used to be one filled with fun and laughter. We never had a moment of silence among us and we could appreciate every bit of food the way it was. These days we feel empowered with the world being at our finger tips. But many a times we forget to have a solid conversation with the people with whom we go out and even worse we rarely get to know the taste of the food we have.

Many of us have the habit of checking the latest message or posting on social media such as WhatsApp or Facebook while having our food. We fail to notice how delicious the food is and the strangest part is even the tastiest of the food may turn out to be pretty disgusting at times with the kind of messages or images we get to see on these media. The social media facilitates us to have a very tasty dosa and chutney along with a gory image of hundreds of people dead in an accident. I wonder what the state of our brain is with all this. On one hand our taste buds are trying to say, enjoy this lovely dosa with chutney whereas on the other hand the brain is fed with extremely scary pictures that instill fear and aversion to the violence displayed on a mobile screen!

These do not just stop with the food. Earlier days when we were not equipped with these smart phones, we had so much more time to do many other things of interest. We used to read more, we had more time to experiment new things in life and we spent more quality time with our family, to name a few. A lot of our time now gets consumed by these devices that we invented to make our life easier. In reality, is it actually making our lives easier or we’re becoming slaves to these gadgets? To top it all, ask yourself the question what do these ‘electronic friends’ of ours got to offer? We keep waiting for the next notification to rush and open a new message from a WhatsApp group or a new story posted on Facebook or craves for the feel good factor by seeing a ‘like or a comment’ on one of our postings.

To make the whole experience even more enigmatic, most of us do not even realize that this is in fact happening in our lives. Probably it is good to ask yourself these questions. When was the last time you did something outside the digital world that made you and your family proud? When was the last time you did something outside the addictive universe of internet that gave you a ‘feel good’ factor? People who were lucky to have had a past before the arrival of ‘smart phones’ might remember the days when you did things that made you feel good without having to rush and post it online.

If you ever get a feeling that life is slipping away under your feet to the ‘connected world’, remember that you always have an option to disable the Wi-Fi or Mobile Data on your phone. Learn again to look at your loved ones’ eyes and not just their ‘display profiles’. Remind yourself to play with your kids and not just respond to someone’s comments on their pictures in Facebook. At least when you are spending time with your family, turn off these options and connect back to real life!

Remind yourself that there is nothing more important than investing time with your family. Any given day, that will give you more happiness than the increasing numbers of ‘likes or comments’. Hold your kids’ hands and take them to a world beyond the internet. Make them experience the happiness you had before we had these gadgets. I’m sure they’ll be really thankful for you for that ‘old-world-experience’!

Remember to switch off and regain your life. Do not let others and their posts or messages control you and your life.

May the good God bless you to stay connected in a fruitful manner! 

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