Technology. It’s a word that conjures up thoughts of a love-hate relationship. Living in a tech-saturated world has its pros and cons. Am I right? It’s time we take inventory and deconstruct our relationship with our devices in order to build it back better.
There are so many incredible benefits that technology has brought us such as:
On-demand access to information
Ability to communicate beyond barriers
Unlimited exposure to people and ideas
Improved efficiencies for human performance and task management
Advanced business, academia and every other industry
Opened up possibilities for global travel and tourism
Perhaps you could add a few additional bullets based on your personal experience with technology. Of course, there are cons that come with it as well. Things like:
Designed to create extreme dependability/ addiction
Interruptions impacting overall productivity levels
Malfunctions and continuous upgrades
Infringement on privacy/ cyber security concerns
It’s also worth noting that technology has contributed to additional issues in our society, even in an indirect way. Things such as:
Prolonged sitting and an increased risk in preventable diseases such as heart attack and stroke
“Epidemic of loneliness” and mental health challenges
Sleep deprivation and quality of sleep
Social emotional challenges driven by “the perfect life” comparison syndrome
This realization has become even more obvious in the Covid-19 pandemic. Time at home has also meant extra time to numb with our preferred coping mechanism that technology provides.
It’s my hope that in reading this article, we each have the opportunity to pause and consider what healthy boundaries we might want to put in place to experience digital wellness. Digital wellness is the degree to which each individual can achieve a healthy and optimal relationship with technology. It takes into account a person’s physical and mental wellbeing and incorporates preventative measures that help regulate the healthy use of tech.
If you are interested in taking a brief quiz to get a status update, check out the links below.
TELUS Wise Digital Wellness Quiz
Google’s Digital Wellbeing Quiz
The Emotion Machine Digital Wellness Test
Here are some practical steps you can take to monitor your relationship with technology and set yourself up for success!
Relearn Boredom: Do not fill every waking moment with information density. Instead, try to creatively “relearn boredom.” It sounds silly, but mental “downtime” is good for your brain. Make a list of 5 things you can do instead of scrolling social media and keep it visible. When you’re tempted to distract yourself with technology and you know you could use a mental break refer to your list.
Contain your Device: It’s difficult to do, but be disciplined in order to prioritize uninterrupted connection time with family and friends. Set up a digital wellness container to keep your technological devices for a set time every night so you ensure your focus and attention can be in the present moment. You deserve it and your loved ones do too.
Set a Weekly “Unplug” Date: Establish limits to prioritize emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Take time for yourself to unplug by setting a “wellbeing date” once a week where you can enjoy doing something without using technology. Practice yoga, read, walk with a friend or cook dinner. There are so many ways to distance yourself from tech on a regular basis. Make this part of your normal routine.
Define Digital Boundaries: Develop daily and weekly routines that allow you to completely unplug and refuel. That might mean keeping your phone out of your bedroom and purchasing an old-fashioned alarm clock to minimize distraction and promote healthy sleep.
Set Expectations: Communicate with your family and friends to set clear expectations about your healthy boundaries with technology often. Role model healthy behaviors and set the tone in your home and with your friends to encourage others to experience digital wellness, too!
Get an Accountabuddy: Get with a buddy who can help keep you in-check when you’re looking to social media or other sources of technology to medicate, numb, or disengage from your emotions. Instead, try journaling, meditating, going outside, or calling that buddy to talk things out.
Become Empowered: Educate yourself on the psychological tech addictions that are prevalent in our society and actively seek to support those in your network from becoming technology-dependent. Check out The Social Dilemma as a place to start.
Imagine a world where we can experience “digital flourishing.” According to the Digital Wellness Collective, “Digital Flourishing refers to a mindful approach to digital technology usage that supports our thriving in different areas of life. This approach empowers us to take advantage of the benefits of technology while avoiding associated harms.”
It’s not easy to prioritize digital wellness, in fact, you have to actively work against social norms and psychological tendencies to put your wellbeing first. It all starts with awareness and acceptance. Once you take an honest look at how you are using technology and accept where you are today, you can start to progress down a healthier path. Do it for yourself and your mental health. We all have room to improve, let’s create a wellness revolution and redefine our relationship with tech #together.
Resources for you:
Google’s Digital Wellbeing Resource page and App
Screen Time (iOS) and App Dashboard (Android)