Sharing moments Menopause Young adults Bye bye Hotel Mum How you feel at home Semester abroad Language course abroad or work as an au pair? Be prepared for military training Grassrooted Pack smarter, travel better Make an impression Contraception Vegan diet Bye bye Hotel Mum – hello shared flat Big trip, small budget Finanzielle Vorsorge Planning a family Tracking fertility The right time? How men can help Fertility and diet Medical check-up What you need to know about ovulation What to do if you don’t conceive straight away Three electronic fertility and cycle trackers in comparison Planning a family and partnership Pregnancy Examinations during pregnancy Diet and nutrition Is my pregnancy progressing normally? Tips for daily life Important points for travel and holidays Is my pregnancy progressing normally? What items do I need for my baby? Where and how do I want to give birth? What do I need to pack for the hospital? How should I prepare my home for my child? Is my pregnancy progressing normally? How can I best prepare for my baby? How can I best prepare for the birth? Nutrition Parent-child relationship Preparing for breastfeeding | Sanitas Magazine Insurance Stretch marks Sleep Rupture of membranes Baby blues High-risk pregnancy Braxton Hicks & false labour Formalitites Morning sickness Family rooms Signs of a premature birth Our baby Bathing baby – what you need to know How babies hear Infant first-aid kit Baby care Is my baby developing normally? Month-to-month overview of baby development Is my baby developing normally? Baby’s development: Months 3 and 4 Baby care Breastfeeding When does a baby start eating? Weight Baby growth spurts Toys Sun protection for baby skin Teething Milk teeth: what to do in case of accident Baby’s development: Months 5 and 6 Pelvic floor exercises after birth Babyschlaf Celebrating and enjoyment Christmas and New Year’s Eve with a twist A philosophical take on pleasure Pleasure can also be found in the soup kitchen in Zurich Tips for a peaceful and stress-free Christmas Living better with cardiac insufficiency Alejandro Iglesias Hana Disch Patrizio Orlando Vaccinations and travel first-aid kit Hay fever In pursuit of happiness Seven tips for a happier daily life Kids in lockdown Online addiction Women's hearts Decisions Decision-making tips Report from the hospital Donating a kidney Life decisions Emigrating to South America Geocaching Sexuality Erectile dysfunction Young people and sexuality Queer pastor Drag queen Paprika Sexually transmitted infections What does LGBTQIA+ stand for? Gender medicine HPV Families of transgender people Medically assisted suicide Types of dementia Family Blessing or curse? Knowing about hereditary diseases Families of dementia patients Be active Active during pregnancy Sport and exercise during pregnancy Antenatal exercise classes Standing properly Healthy eating Green smoothies Vitamin D Good eggs, bad eggs Diet plan Healthy fats Feed your muscles How much sugar should we eat a day? How much fat should we eat a day? Lactose intolerance Healthy diet, strong immune system Low Carb E-numbers and other additives in food Personalised diet Vegan meat substitutes Brain food: what should we eat? Healthy heart Interview with Christophe Wyss Heart-friendly sports How the mind affects the heart Taking blood pressure correctly High blood pressure: what you need to know Healthy teeth Home remedies: relief for sore gums A dentist explains Brushing up on brushing Changing habits Interview Stortpsychologie 10-step guide to changing habits Try, try, try again Fitnessmotivation Running coaching Running ABC Race in Sarnen Factors affecting condition Weekly planner Running shoes Strengthening exercises Running nutrition Complementary sport Warm-up Stretching Functional clothing Fitness tracker Shopping – sportswear Running tips for women Relaxation technique Recovery New lease of life thanks to Sanitas running coaching Sport after childbirth Postnatal exercise Taking the strain off your shoulders Kangatraining Workout while walking Expert tips Stress and relaxation Moving air Fight stress with yoga What is stress Learn how to relax Dealing with stress What is burnout? “The first step was to create boundaries” Juggling family and a career Reduce stress Stressor factors The most beautiful Swiss saunas Sweating in the sauna Breathing exercises for relaxation The right rest & recovery: debunking myths Mindfulness Sleep Constant availability: chronic stress Trend sports Fitness boxing Slackline Bouldering Fascia training Stand Up Paddling Keeping fit efficiently Swing with a smile! Vertical workout Hiking Altitude sickness Seven stroller-friendly hikes Needed: a hiking-friendly pushchair There goes the other sole! Tips on hiking with a baby Mountain lakes Winter walks Planning a family: Fertility and exercise Stair climbing Pumptrack Kids’ back Back exercises Sitting properly at work Forest fun Playing for life Promoting health and fitness Motivation Sledging Curling glossary What do you get if you cross a kite with snow? Snowshoeing Preventing falls Inline skating Swimming Swimming Wings for Life Stretching Bike tips Stretching exercises for cyclists koerper-und-kaelte Healthy teeth thanks to dental hygiene and preventive care Putting wishes into practice Tips for healthy teeth Hometraining Investigating teeth-related myths 10 tips to ease anxiety Hand care How our body regenerates The best abdominal exercises in five minutes Keeping fit on holiday Swim training aids Wie viel Sport ist gesund Gathering mushrooms – the right way | Sanitas Magazine Check-ups Five-minute stretching routine Gehirntraining Rückenschmerzen Licht Yogastile Ayurveda-Morgenroutine Tips for doing sport outside in winter Cross-country skiing for beginners Home remedies against dandruff Home remedies Home remedies for bladder infections Home remedies for a sore throat Home remedies for migraines Home remedies against excessive sweating Home remedies for a sun allergy Healthy feet, healthy back core exercises for mountain bikers Symptoms Check Sport after Corona HIIT: quick and efficient exercises Sore muscles: debunking myths Debunking swimming myths strength training for young people Exercise videos Whole-body workout Fascia training Lack of exercise Sun protection Strong mind How to be mentally strong Mental strength Psychosomatics Resilience Tips against feeling down Sleep hygiene and mental well-being Depression Panic attacks Prescription drug addiction ADHD: Symptoms in children and adults Mental illness: help for friends and family Living with autism Pressure to perform Alcoholism Mental health benefits of exercise Ways to brighten your mood Blood: myths and facts Hormones Complementary medicine: the most common treatments Complementary medicine Training in line with your menstrual cycle Living together today Digital life Online addiction Digital temptation Children and digital media Smartphone neck Digital responsibility and solidarity Our brains love habit Change my habits? You’re joking! Planning a family: Difficulties trying to have a baby Planning a family: Myth vs fact Solidarity study Newcomers Living together tomorrow Digital nomads Giesserei multi-generation house The blind film director Help instead of rent Working on the move Medical practices of the future Our skin – layer by layer Generational discussion: wishes for life Hausarzt und Corona Safe return to work Corona crisis: singing together Corona crisis: Working in intensive care Corona crisis: working in a nursing home Rest and recovery: learning from children Corona crisis: voluntary work for the needy Second opinion Relationships and children Three questions that keep us awake at night Outing The nature of lying Vorsorge Finding sound health-related information online Impfstoffe entwickeln Tipps für Jugendliche in der Corona-Krise Becoming parents Diagnose: Kind im Haus Long Covid Take it easy in your free time YouTuber Aditotoro on the coronavirus pandemic Minimalism for a happy life Thanks to corona: more time for family Back to life after a paragliding accident Decluttering: the answer to chaos Living and loving with autism Synaesthesia Talking to doctors Non-verbal communication Is there really a serial killer gene? Developments for the future App check Aqualert SRC blood donor Codecheck Forest Freedom Freeletics Three sleep apps reviewed PeakFinder Findery Six fitness apps reviewed Internet use High-tech trousers Prostheses Hospital of the future New skin for burns victims Online-Therapien How drugs are developed Generics A vision of the future: How we will live in 30 years Onward Overcoming erectile dysfunction Family medicine practices of the future Personalised medicine A voice for Clara Outpatient procedures
Dossier: Stress and relaxation

Constant availability: chronic stress

When we’re in front of a screen, we often forget about our body. We breathe shallowly and tense our muscles. And this can have serious consequences. We’ve put together some tips on how to redress the physical balance.

Text: Anna Miller; photo: iStock

Most of us are guilty of having a never-ending to-do list. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media at the bus stop to alleviate boredom, some people want to use their time as efficiently as possible. One email less! A task delegated! A message checked! And so it goes on, hour after hour, day in day out. At home. At work. After the cinema. Before breakfast. Many of us are more connected than ever, but this takes its toll on our body. From a neurobiological perspective, we need breaks. Our body has waking times and sleeping times. It needs tension and relaxation. We need to consciously take time out. Spend time in nature. We need to feel connected with our bodies.

Being available around the clock is harmful to health

Too much screen time can have serious consequences for your health, your body and your mind. Studies show, for example, that many people hold their breath when they are reading emails. This is known as email apnea. We also tense up, breathe shallowly and can spend hours a day staring at the screen without moving much. This not only results in postural problems, but also triggers a flight-or-fight response in our body. In the past, when our body reacted with shallow breathing, a fixed gaze and tense muscles, it was responding to danger. It helped us flee from enemies or be better prepared to attack prey.

So, if we spend a lot of time in front of a PC with tensed muscles and breathing shallowly, our body releases stress hormones. And if we’re still in bed reading depressing news stories at 11 o’clock at night, the content signals to us that danger is imminent.

This is because our brain is made up of different areas. The oldest part is the brain stem, which is responsible for processing our primary emotions such as anger, fear and desire, i.e. our “primitive” reflexes. Our brain stem works just as it did thousands of years ago, no matter how digital or modern our lives are today. When a red button flashes or we see that we have 450 new mails in our inbox, our body reacts just as it did back then in the wild when we were confronted with a dangerous animal: with fear. 

Smartphone-induced chronic stress

Our system therefore triggers the release of adrenalin and cortisol – stress hormones that are designed to spur us into action. In the past, this was essential for survival and happened every few days. Today we activate the same mechanisms each time we get an email – practically non-stop. This leads to stress hormones being constantly released but often not sufficiently reduced, which in turn results in a prolonged and constant feeling of stress.

When we have non-stop digital stimulation and don’t take time-out to re-establish our hormone balance and general well-being, it’s no surprise that people are constantly stressed and tired, have difficulty sleeping, suffer from problems with their digestion or experience physical pain.

Six tips to balance our digital lives

The more digital your everyday life is, the more you need to ensure you achieve a physical balance. The following tips will help you do something good for your health. 

Even if you only do it for 10 minutes at a time. It’s about finding a way to reduce the level of stress hormones in your body. It can be anything that you enjoy: jogging, dancing with your children in the living room or swimming.

You don’t have to overdo it. Even a few minutes of physicality a day is more than most people allow themselves. In technical jargon, this is known as embodiment, i.e. exercises and actions that allow you to really feel at one with your body again. In a world where there is so much emphasis placed on the mind and we spend so much time in the digital space, these exercises are more important than ever. Moving, shaking and stretching the body can work wonders.

For example, you could take an ice bath or go cycling in the rain. If our body is still for too long, we become more anxious and start to trust it and ourselves less. Taking a cold shower for just 30 seconds helps ground us and allows us to feel our body again. This calms our nervous system and helps reduce anxiety.

If we stare at a screen for hours on end, our field of vision shrinks. This signalises to our body that we are under threat. So you should regularly look around, look to all four corners of the room one after the other, look into the distance.

Many of us forget how to breathe properly as we grow up. Young children do it intuitively, but over the years we start to breathe shallowly and too fast. American author James Nestor has written a book on breathing, and some coaches offer breathwork exercises and courses to help us learn to breathe more deeply again. It’s easy to make a start: just breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds. The more deeply you breathe into your stomach and the slower that you breathe in and out, the better it is for your nervous system.

It helps your body to regenerate. It’s a good idea to define a few simple rules: No screen time during activities such as eating, sleeping, taking a bath, socialising or walking. Start with small steps, such as leaving your smartphone at home for half an hour while you take a walk around the block. Or putting away all digital devices during the first and last hour of your day and instead try reading a book or doing meditation.