Smartwatches, Boundaries + Stress
About 3 years ago I decided to really take charge of my health. I felt like one of the ways to really push myself was to track my calories during workouts, and the easiest way to do this was to purchase a smartwatch. I didn’t need any of the fancy smartwatches so I purchased a FitBit, which while great for the first year – didn’t have all the amenities I really wanted. Wanted not needed. My unnecessary upgrade was to an Apple Watch, which I lost while hiking two years later.
My initial gut reaction after losing it was to be upset, stressed and a feeling of acute loss. If you think it sounds like I’m talking about missing a limb – you’re absolutely right. I had become so attached to a hunk of plastic and aluminum, that not having it on my wrist all of my waking hours made me feel naked. The forced separation with my AppleWatch allowed me to see that it caused me some serious stress and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong- I got another one, but now I recognize it needs to stay in its proper place and not be worn all the time.
Old Unhealthy Habits
After 3 years of having a smartwatch/calorie tracker, it starts to become an essential part of my workouts. So much so that NOT having it caused me anxiety. It was as if somehow I was incapable of working out sans Apple Watch telling me exactly how much I burned and if my heart rate was in my target zone. I felt like I needed to hit specific goals or I failed my workout? That’s NOT a healthy mindset and I bet quite a few of you can relate.
A few of the unhealthy perspectives I had really shock me still. ‘I didn’t get to 450 calories today so I’ve failed‘. Or ‘I didn’t hit my move, stand, overall calorie goals!’ The watch literally tells you what goals you need to hit (and I didn’t know how to change them). The fact that a smartwatch comes with a preset goal doesn’t mean I should’ve stuck with it! ‘My heart rate isn’t in its target zone so I’m not working out hard enough.’ This is a dangerous mindset as well. Not every workout is going to make my heart rate shoot through the roof. I have a naturally low heart rate and low blood pressure. That means during a workout, it would be unhealthy for me to assume I’m not doing anything if my heart rate isn’t 175 bpm.
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Seriously.. I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken. Phones, tablets, laptops.. I don’t care what brand you have – you need to unplug. The smartwatches we wear are no exception. Constantly having notifications put us in a state of anxiety whether or not we realize it. Even if your phone is in the other room, the fact that you can get a message on your watch means you haven’t really set those healthy boundaries. (More on how to set healthy boundaries soon!) We’ve come along way from snail mail and it can be really great to just call up your girlfriend for a pedicure.. but I truly believe that sometimes the overload of communication can be a bad thing.
Smartwatches During Leisure Activities and Work
Leisure activities and work are as different as they come, but the one thing they have in common? The need for focus. I went on a hike in Red River Gorge here in Kentucky.. and even though the hike itself was beautiful!? I was disappointed with myself in the end because I hadn’t hit my calorie goals for the hike. That’s NOT what that hike was for, and that’s a negative mindset I don’t care to repeat. I was allowing that hunk of plastic and aluminum to distract me from the beauty of the hike. We need to focus on our leisure activities as a reset, and without proper boundaries – we don’t get that much needed break!
I also used to wear my AppleWatch while I was working and trying to crunch numbers. Setting my phone down became obsolete. Whether checking my phone or checking my watch – I was unable to stay completely zoned in.
New Healthy Habits
Work-Life Balance with a Smartwatch
I work 50+ hours a week and I can still accomplish my move/stand/calorie goals even though I’m tired, because I changed them. That perspective of failure when I didn’t hit the preset goals was easily shifted and necessary to something accomplishable, even on the days when I’m running like crazy. A small pat on the back after working all day and moving can definitely still make me feel good when I don’t have time to hit the gym. I also take off my watch while I’m working, writing etc when I really need to focus. Neither my phone nor my watch is necessary while working on any number of projects.
Image + Calorie ‘Goals’
The watch can help me achieve goals, but ultimately it doesn’t dictate whether or not I get to feel GOOD about my body after a workout. I can see how many calories I’ve burned now and I’m proud of my body for being able to do a workout no matter how hard or easy. I look at my target heart rate as a challenge to better myself, not a personal failure. my leisurely activities with my friends need to be about enjoying myself and not about whether or not I hit some arbitrary fitness goal
Smartwatches are also a helpful tool for rewarding yourself from time to time. Personally I choose workout gear as a reward for consistent workouts. This is also a necessity since women’s workout clothes last approximately two minutes but styles change anyways.
So when it comes to your smart watches – put them in their proper place and use them as a tool to help you achieve your physical goals. They are not the deciding factor in whether or not you are worth feeling good about your body. My solution going forward will be to take it off and leave it on my dresser or on the charger until I actually need it. Overall – smartwatches are just another wave of technology that can be incredibly helpful when the right boundaries are set – just don’t allow it to subliminally stress you out.
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