Work and Social Media Harmed My Mental and Physical Health


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, with the exception of a Monday appearance on CNN, I did not work. I did not use social media. I did not send, receive or check email. I only used the Internet to stream music and video and schedule exercise classes.

I was on "staycation."

I am not exaggerating when I say taking a week off -- the way I did -- was one of the best moves I ever made in my life. I learned a lot about myself as well as the efficacy of the routines and activities that had become daily habit.

In no particular order, here's some of what I learned:

Speaking of exercise, after attending Spinning classes five days a week religiously, I stopped going at the end of December. My excuse? Work.

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What a lame reason to end an exercise program. I love my job, but, honestly, the way I was going at it was counterproductive. It made me look cool to go on Twitter and brag about 16-18 hour days or being up at 3:30 in the morning working, but what did that accomplish other than occasional exhaustion, a couple extra pounds and a heart rate that stopped recovering as quickly as it used to?

A week ago this past Saturday, I went outside for a bike ride. What was once a warmup for me -- 15 miles at around 20 MPH -- beat the hell out of me. I came home pissed at myself. Quite simply, I had allowed my job to take away my fitness. Not the job's fault. All mine. And it's never going to happen again.

I was on the Spinning bike five times this past week. I will be on it at least that much this week and every week thereafter with few exceptions. It didn't take me long to fall out of shape. Thankfully, it still doesn't take me long to get back into shape. But I turn 38 years old in July so I expect that to change.


Speaking of looking "cool" on Twitter, I allowed that social media platform to turn me into some flavor of dumb ass. This became all too apparent too many times seconds into the staycation.


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Every time I had a thought, I instinctively wondered if it would work or could be adapted to work as a Tweet. I did this without even thinking about it. It took me a few days to completely break the habit. By the end of the week, I was thinking like my old self again. Instead of scrolling through Tweets for hours a day -- a practice that, when overdone, does nothing but saturate your brain with more information (so much of it meaningless) that it can or should be able to process -- I was working the argument and logic sections of the LSAT over the weekend.

Something as seemingly innocent as Twitter can hinder your thoughtfulness. Not to get all philosophical on you, but think about it. If you're looking to translate every thought you have into a Tweet, it sucks much of the life out of thinking. Instead of reflecting on your thoughts -- and seeing where they go "naturally" -- you immediately take that thought and put into a 140-character vacuum.

It was difficult for me to pull back from work and disconnect. But I'm more than glad I did. If I didn't, I risked going down a mentally and physically unhealthy path that I presume gets tougher to deter the deeper you get sucked into it.

Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

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