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I took a break from my Apple Watch… Is your Apple Watch bad for your mental health too?
Apple Watches are all the rage. Heck, I gotta admit, they’re pretty handy! There are tons of cool features and abilities that can really add to your life. But there also comes a time your Apple Watch becomes bad for your mental health. Too much of anything isn’t good- and this is no exception.
Apple Watch Activity Trackers and Mental Health
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room… the RINGS!
I fully believe that the motivation behind activity trackers is good. Movement, in its purest form, is healthy. It is great to move your body. Good for your heart, muscles, bones, strength, mental health, and more!
BUT, it is all too often that Apple Watches become an addiction. More specifically, the Apple Watch activity trackers become addictive.
When healthy movement crosses the line into an obsessive relationship with movement, it becomes VERY unhealthy. The benefits of movement are no longer there when your mental health is at stake.
Why I Started Activity Tracking on My Apple Watch
When I first got my Apple Watch, I had a very healthy relationship with movement. I was a high school cheerleader, I loved going for the occasional run, and overall was an active person in general.
I started wearing my watch for other purposes (text alerts, music, etc.). It would naturally track my movement. It would buzz midday telling me I had closed a ring. I’d dismiss the alert, not really caring.
If I had to not wear my Apple Watch for any reason (at cheer practice I wasn’t allowed to), I couldn’t have cared less. My mental health was great at this time.
I soon decided to join the gym. Naturally, I’d wear my watch to the gym. I started tracking workouts. The consistent celebration and reinforcement when I would burn X amount of calories started to fuel my workouts.
I no longer felt free to take off my watch whenever. More importantly, I no longer moved for FUN. I moved to burn calories and “close my rings“.
As time went on, I just kept raising move goals up and up and up. It was set to an unhealthy amount. I was working out for hours on end, solely to close my rings and feel that I burned a significant amount of calories.
That is when I knew my Apple Watch was bad for my mental health.
When I first got my Apple Watch, my relationship with it was GREAT. And that may remain the case for many people! That is awesome.
But all too often, people fall victim to obsessive working out and calorie counting because of their activity tracker on their Apple Watch.
Here’s some tips for how you know if your Apple Watch is bad for your mental health.
7 Signs Your Apple Watch is Bad for Your Mental Health
1. You Feel a Bit Too Excited When You Close Your Rings
You know when the normal sense of accomplishment crosses the line into obsession.
Be honest with yourself.
If you feel a sense of excitement that seems unnaturally high for a physical movement achievement, that’s a big sign your Apple Watch is bad for your mental health.
2. You Track Calories
If you are tracking calories in while calculating calories out, you are on a slippery slope. Any correlation between eating food and burning it off with exercise can be dangerous.
If you find yourself using your Apple Watch activity tracker data in conjunction with calorie tracking apps, I highly suggest breaking both those habits ASAP.
Ruining your relationship with food and exercise is just not worth it.
3. You Track Every Workout
Do you track every single workout with your Apple Watch? Is every step you take recorded in your activity tracker?
If your first instinct when you get moving is to track tracking your workout, you may want to check your relationship with your Apple Watch.
This isn’t necessarily a tell-tale sign that your Apple Watch is harming your mental health, but it can be a major warning sign.
4. You Cannot Workout Without It
Like I said earlier, when I had a healthy relationship with my Apple Watch, I had no problem taking it off whenever.
Some mornings I would even forget to put it on. I just didn’t care!
When I became addicted to working out and burning calories because of my Apple Watch, I could NOT workout without it. It got to the point that I would sneak-wear it at cheer practice even when it wasn’t allowed.
RELATED POST: How to Feel More Confident in Your Body
A HUGE sign that my Apple Watch was becoming obsessive and harming my mental health.
5. Your Move Goal Keeps Rising
The calorie goal just never feels like enough, huh? You feel the need to keep bumping your move goal up, up, up.
I was there too. This is not only a sign that your Apple watch is bad for your mental health, but it can actually be harmful to your physical health too. Too much movement can be even more unhealthy than not enough.
Too much exercise has been linked to weakness, exhaustion, depression, disordered eating, and suicide. Your body is not meant to be in a caloric deficit and moving an obscene amount everyday. It will burn out.
If your Apple Watch is encouraging that for you, it might be time to take a break.
6. Exercise Interferes with Your Life
Do you find yourself doing odd things just to get those rings closed? Are you working out at really odd times (like squatting when you’re brushing your teeth)? Do you feel like you ALWAYS have to take the stairs? Can you not let the day end without closing your rings?
All of these are super clear signs that your Apple Watch is bad for your mental health. The anxiety that your activity tracker is causing you is unhealthy, meaning your Apple Watch usage has crossed the boundary from healthy to obsessive.
7. You Can’t Take Days Off
Have you ever turned down plans with a friend because you can’t miss a workout?
Yup, that’s another big warning sign.
If you cannot stand to take any days off from exercise, you may need to take a break from your Apple Watch (and exercise!). Exercise is meant to enrich your life, not control it.
If you find yourself antsy to work out on special occasions, when you are sick, or when you feel just plain exhausted, it’s time to evaluate your motives!
What to Do When Your Apple Watch Has Become Bad for Your Mental Health
1. Take a Break
The best way to break a habit is to do exactly that… break it. LOL!
It might feel tough, uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing… that just means you’re doing the right thing. If taking a break from your Apple Watch makes you uncomfortable, that is the exact sign you need to know that you are doing what you should be.
How long the break needs to be will entirely depend on your individual circumstances! Continue being really honest with yourself about your relationship with your Apple Watch and you will know when (or IF) you should reintroduce it.
2. Stop Counting Calories
If you are counting calories, you should STOP. If your Apple Watch is bad for your mental health, that tells me that you may be struggling with calories, body image, workout obsession, etc. Food ties in directly to that.
Obsessively counting calories is just unnatural (sorry to all my avid macro-counters! Don’t think it’s healthy!). If you are trying to undo the exercise, food, and calorie internal narrative, stop it all.
3. Work On Your Relationship With Exercise
Working on healing your relationship with exercise might also feel a bit uncomfortable. This may include taking breaks (I took TWO YEARS off to heal mine!), working out with no Apple Watch or fitness tracker, doing more low-intensity workouts, ditching the gym (at-home workouts for the win!), and becoming more in touch with if/when your body wants to move.
RELATED POST: 55 Journal Prompts for Body Image
I have gone from an extreme exercise addiction to complete intuitive movement. If I can do it, you can too!
4. Turn Off Activity Notifications
You can actually turn off the notifications from the activity tracker on your Apple Watch. This is what I did when I first started reintroducing my Apple Watch after my break.
This really helps to not pick back up the cycle. Out of sight, out of mind. (Plus, no more bonus “Time to Stand Up!” reminders. Hahaha!)
5. Hide the Rings
Change your watch face and delete all the ones that broadcast those pesky rings. Like I said in the last tip: out of sight, out of mind.
You don’t need your calories and movement minutes shoved in your face every time you check the time. Get rid of ’em! Set a cute clock or photo background instead!
Time to Check in: Is Your Apple Watch Bad for Your Mental Health?
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If you are an avid Apple Watch user, take a moment to check in with yourself. Is it helping you or harming you? Is it making you feel better or is your Apple Watch bad for your mental health?
Be true about your intentions. Exercise addiction is no fun… but you can pursue a life free from it!
This is a very important article, thank you for sharing! I don’t think many people realize that exercise itself can be addictive, but especially with the added affirmations from the apple watch, FitBit, or whatever else!
Yes! Something I struggled with for too long… wish I had given it up sooner!
Such a great post! It’s so important to look at using products consciously. My mother in law has a Apple Watch and she looks at it every time it rings or buzzes and I have to say it kinda seems like it’s starting to control her life a bit… I like the idea of turning off the notifications for some things to help with this. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with it!
Thank you so much, Mandy! It is definitely possible to be addicted to it… I’ve been there!