Nowadays, a substantial number of us multitask in our places of work, at home or in school, especially on our smartphones.
Multitasking is becoming a usual part of everyday life that the majority of us presume we do well. Only a few understand that it is harmful.
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Research is now exposing how multitasking makes us prone to some health risks.
1. Memory problems
A study was carried out in 2016 on factors that affected working memory and long-term memory. It was found that both memory types were weak in chronic media multitaskers. The hippocampus is the main region of the brain that is involved in memory, while the cerebral cortex controls basic activities and reasoning. These 2 parts are actively in use when multitasking. The memory associated with one activity is stored in the brain by changing the connection between neurons. When you multitask, your brain tries to create and store multiple memories as you are working, hence reactivating and connecting multiple neurons. If this continues for a long time, the memory creation and storage processes weaken.
2. Unhealthy weight gain
We eat thoughtlessly when we watch the TV, speak on the phone, drive in the car, check emails or do anything else that diverts our attention from the food in front of us. Studies have also found that mindless eating results in more calories being consumed than originally intended. This can then lead to an unhealthy weight gain. Gaining weight won’t seem like a serious issue to many people, but excess calorie intake is associated with obesity which increases the risk of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and fatty liver.
3. Anxiety and depression
Trying to manage more than one task at a time regularly, takes our attention away from the satisfactions of what we choose to spend our time doing. If you are not deeply involved in the interaction when together with your children, spouse, friend, boss or any other important person, how can you build this relationship that should bring value and happiness to your life? When human connections are suffering, it is hard to prosper and you could be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated all the time. Your emotional health is compromised and you’re likely to show symptoms of anxiety and depression.
4. Bone injuries
People who risk multitasking and driving are prone to vehicle accidents because they are heavily distracted. Also, women’s gait has been proven to be affected by multitasking. This can as well lead to falling and breaking of bones.
5. Chronic stress and fatigue
Stress increases when demands exceed competence. Consistently attempting to fulfil the requirements of numerous duties at once tends to increase our tendency to make mistakes, reducing efficiency. The brain responds to these unrealistic demands by pumping out adrenaline and other stress hormones into the system. This leads to a continuous state of being overwhelmed and a constant stream of stress hormones in the body can compromise our well-being. It eventually leads to both physical and mental fatigue.
Multitasking need not be a way of living for an entire lifetime because of the associated health risks. There is a thin line between stress and happiness and this requires making a few slight adjustments to one’s lifestyle.