- I originally purchased a smartwatch to increase my step count and track my workouts.
- As it started tracking more data, I immersed myself in a world of obsessive checking and health anxiety.
- Since ditching my smartwatch, I’ve seen dramatic improvements in my physical and mental health.
I bought a Apple Watch in 2017. I saw it as an investment in my health, as it would encourage me to walk more and keep up with my workouts. As technology evolved, it became my sleep tracker, my heart rate monitor, my “digital doctor.”
After seven years of immersing myself in the philosophy of wearable technology, I made the decision to throw it all away. I am much happier now.
At first my experience was positive
My first journey into health monitoring was positive. As I hoped, I became more active. Walking turned into jogging, and jogging turned into running. It would energize me every time Apple gave me a digital medal for achieving my goals, and I loved the dopamine high it would give me.
Every month I increased my goals. The goal was to run farther, improve my resting heart rate, and increase my daily step count. This led me to push harder, without worrying about my body’s limits.
I would be the first to act on any improvements Apple makes to software and hardware. Things I didn’t know existed became important to me. HRV, blood oxygen saturation, and vO2 max were all part of my daily monitoring. Sleep tracking would become the guide to how I felt throughout the day.
I became obsessed with metrics
Over time, I, a healthy man in my 30s, became obsessed with health indicators. If my heart rate spiked, I would want to know why. If I felt refreshed after sleeping but the app said otherwise, it must mean I have an underlying health problem. When my blood oxygen levels drop sporadically, I’m probably on the verge of hypoxia.
I stopped listening to my body and became dependent on consumer technology. I quickly plunged into a dark world of health anxiety. This meant monitoring my measurements countless times a day and getting lost in what Dr. Google would say about my results.
Ironically, something designed to improve my health would play a role in my illness. After years of trying hard, I finally fell. The constant stress and fear weakened my nervous system and my body was exhausted. I experienced an episode of chronic fatigue that left me housebound for three months.
I stopped wearing my Apple Watch
It’s unfair to blame an Apple Watch. I still believe that smart watches are very useful for the right person. But it was clear that my temperament didn’t match the capabilities of a handheld device. After a period of resistance, I made the decision to give it up and delete the Health app.
It’s been six months since I made this choice. During this time, my health anxiety disappeared and my overall health improved a lot. My stress level is balanced, my nervous system is better regulated and I enjoy daily life more.
Most importantly, I reestablished a relationship with body and mind. It is the assessment of how I feel that dictates my activities, not a physical item on my wrist. I have no interest in running as far as possible or achieving the so-called standard of optimal health.
Now I live a much more peaceful and balanced life. I am more immersed in the natural world and freed from wearable technology. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.