I gave up my Apple Watch after 7 years of wearing it every day. I'm happier and healthier without it.

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I gave up my Apple Watch after 7 years of wearing it every day. I'm happier and healthier without it.
Courtesy of the author
  • I originally purchased a smartwatch to increase my step count and track my workouts.
  • As it began to track more data, I spiraled into a world of obsessive checking and health anxiety.
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I purchased an Apple Watch in 2017. I saw it as an investment in my health, as it would encourage me to walk more and track my workouts. As the technology evolved, it became my sleep tracker, my heart-rate monitor, my "digital doctor."

After seven years of immersing myself in the ethos of wearable tech, I decided to throw it all away. I'm much happier now.

At first, my experience was positive

My initial journey into health tracking was positive. As I'd hoped, I became more active. Walking evolved into jogging, and jogging turned into running. It would spur me on whenever Apple gave me a digital medal for reaching my goals, and I loved the dopamine hit it would give me.

Each month, I would increase my targets. The aim was to run farther, improve my resting heart rate, and increase my daily step count. This led to me pushing harder, with little to no concern about my body's limitations.

I would be the first to act on any improvement Apple made to the software and hardware. Things I didn't know existed became important to me. Heart-rate variability, blood-oxygen saturation, and maximal oxygen consumption were all part of my daily monitoring. The sleep tracker would become the guide to how I felt throughout the day.

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I became obsessed with metrics

Over time, I, a healthy man in his 30s, became obsessed with health metrics. If my heart rate peaked, I would want to know why. If I felt refreshed after sleep but the app said otherwise, it had to mean I had an underlying health problem. When my blood-oxygen levels sporadically dropped, I was surely on the verge of hypoxia.

I stopped listening to my body and became dependent on consumer technology. I quickly spiraled into a dark world of health anxiety. This meant monitoring my metrics countless times a day and becoming lost in what Dr. Google would say about my results.

Something designed to improve my health ironically would play its part in my becoming sick. After years of pushing hard, I finally crashed. The constant stress and fear impaired my nervous system, and my body was burned out. I experienced an episode of chronic fatigue, which left me housebound for three months.

I stopped wearing my Apple Watch

Directing the blame toward an Apple Watch is unjust. I still believe smartwatches are very useful for the right person. But it was clear that my temperament did not suit the capabilities of a wearable health monitor. 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 that choice. During this time, my health anxiety has disappeared, and my general health has improved a lot. My stress levels feel balanced, my nervous system is better regulated, and I'm enjoying daily life more.

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Most importantly, I have reestablished a relationship with both body and mind. Assessing how I feel dictates my activities, not a piece of hardware on my wrist. I have no interest in running the farthest or reaching the so-called standard of optimal health.

I now live a much more peaceful and balanced life. I'm more immersed in the natural world and free from wearable technology. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

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