Thanks to Covid, many of us are spending more time than ever behind a screen. We’re getting to grips with telecommuting — some for the first time ever — and then packing out our free time with on-screen entertainment too. Under the confines of lockdown, what else is there to do? Yes, we all know by now that we should be taking our self-care seriously, getting some exercise, eating right, and finding healthy outlets for those grizzly surges of pandemic-stress. However, under these circumstances, silver linings have become a precious resource! With that in mind, there’s something else that’s worth recognizing. It turns out that there are some pretty funky up-sides to working (and playing) behind a screen. If you’d like to feel a little less irked by your new goggle-eyed lifestyle, read on:
- That Desk Job Is A Guardian For Your Later-Life Cognition
New research from the University of Cambridge reveals something that some might find counter-intuitive. Monitoring study participants over the course of an average of twelve years, the researchers discovered that desk-based workers are at lower risk of subsequent poor cognition than their more physically active counterparts. Examining changes in things like memory, attention, visual processing speeds and reading ability, they found that those who stuck with the desk job throughout the study fared the best — populating the top 10% of performers. It’s worth noting that the study did not examine whether those desk workers were hitting the gym after hours, so don’t consider this a write-off of the idea that exercise also boosts brain health!
2. Working At A Computer May Also Guard Against Alzheimer’s
Boding well for your noggin to an even greater extent, a collection of studies suggest that sitting at a computer might also keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Research presented at the Society for Neuroscience revealed that a group of older internet neophytes who took up a daily practice of surfing the web demonstrated impressive changes in brain activity. A study from UCLA Longevity Center, led by Dr. Gary Small, author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program, took the research further, and found that participants frontal lobes were quickly activated by their browsing. This is the area of the brain helps us solve problems and controls working memory. Small’s study indicated that mentally stimulating activities, including time at computer screens, can lessen our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment.
3. Screen Time Leads To Perception Super-Powers
Have you found yourself wondering if all of those Zoom calls, work reports and YouTube wormholes are wreaking havoc for your vision? New research indicates that the answer is, happily, perhaps quite the opposite. In fact, data from Psychology Professor and Cognitive and Brain Sciences Coordinator Peter Gerhardstein’s lab at Binghamton University indicates that our vision is highly adaptable. Of course, the idea that people who regularly play action video games are more adept at learning new sensorimotor tasks, better at perceiving orientation, and have improve hand-eye coordination than most is nothing new. What’s interesting about Gerhardstein’s research is that it points to other screen users also exhibiting more complex perception abilities, like being able to switch between digital and real world environments with ease.
4. Taking Your Time Back
Have you taken a moment to consider how much more of your time is your own since you made the switch to working from home? We can’t speak to time saved by staying in your PJs all day — but if you were previously a commuter, you’ll probably find some satisfaction in doing the math! According to ACAS, the average Londoner spent 74 minutes every day travelling to and from work in the pre-Covid world. Going state-side, statistics from the Auto Insurance Center indicated that American commuters spent about 100 hours commuting, and a staggering 41 hours stuck in traffic each year. A long commute has been associated with health issues such as elevated blood sugar, higher cholesterol, and greater risk of depression, so there’s a bonus for all who now find themselves relegated to remote work. If you were a pre-lockdown commuter, why not tot up the hours you’ve saved, and put some thought into how you’re using them? Whether at your screen or otherwise, that time is now yours to keep!
5. You’re Saving The Environment
According to data published by FlexJobs at the end of 2020, 1 in 4 Americans are expected to work remotely in 2021. This works out at roughly 39 million people, and marks the equivalent of taking more than 6,000,000 cars off the road for an entire year! FlexJobs also highlighted that by making other eco-concious choices — such as avoiding using paper (so keeping our work on our screens) and monitoring air-con and heating use — remote workers potentially hold the same power to positively impact our atmosphere as planting an entire forest of 91 million trees. Fundamentally, if you’ve made the switch to working from home you have played a meaningful part in safeguarding our environment. This means better health for the planet, and better air quality for you and your loved ones.
6. Welcome To The Work Satisfaction Club
If pixels are a pre-requisite for telecommuting, then there’s more to be said in favour of your screen time. Working from home allows us to experience a greater sense of autonomy, as we choose how to structure our day, when to take yoga-breaks, and whether we’re early birds or night owls, productively speaking. So, why does this matter? Studies have shown that increased autonomy tends to mean greater job satisfaction. What’s more, remote workers tend to be happier and more likely to stick with their jobs. They also tend to be less stressed, and enjoy stronger relationships. Of course, while the world is turned a little upside down by the coronavirus, none of us are likely to feel at our best. That said, it’s pretty comforting to know that the recent virtual version of living that has been thrust upon so many of us is not all bad. It might even help us keep enough mojo in the kitty to come through this challenging time relatively unscathed.
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