Digital Wellness: Apply Five Healthy Principles for a Happier You
By Denise Lisi DeRosa
Cyber Expert and Founder, Cyber Sensible, LLC
Technology is so entangled in our lives that we need to consider our tech use when we think about our overall health and wellbeing. Are we using our technology for its intended purpose - as a tool to help us stay connected? If not, are we too dependent on our devices that we isolate ourselves? Think about how you have incorporated social media and smartphones in to your daily life. If you feel out of balance, try these five tips to a healthier digital you.
Digest and Reflect: Getting online can be like drinking from a firehose. There is so much out there to see, buy, watch, click, read, download, reply, comment, post… but is it possible to enjoy anything when the consuming is unremitting? The problem with the internet is that it never ends, no matter how furiously we scroll through our updates. If we are on our devices constantly being served what’s next, can we appreciate what is in front of us? It is time we all slow down to not overindulge, take a moment to reflect, digest and process, before rushing through to the next video, post or article. The internet will still be on tomorrow.
Mindful Exploration: Have you used any screen time tools to track how much time YOU (not your kids) spend online? For any of us who want to establish screen time limits in our home, you need to first reflect on your own use first. Do you have purpose every time you open an app? Do we all need to be staring at our screens at every ‘free’ moment - waiting in the Starbucks line, riding an elevator, commuting to work, or walking our dogs? Are we all so busy that we cannot disconnect? I doubt it. While there are times that we are working against a tight deadline or handling a crisis at work - there are plenty of times where an email can wait until we return to the office. So what are we all doing? Are we distracting ourselves from boredom? Are we missing what is going on around us in favor of what we can find on Youtube? Think more about intention when checking your phone, if you don’t have one, put it down and look up.
Meaningful Connections: Yes, even adults feel good when we receive a lot of likes on one of our posts. In the grand scheme of things though, do we value a ‘friend’ who likes our posts more than a friend we can count on IRL (in real life)? Go through your personal accounts and take a look at your circle of friends - does the list reflect those that truly mean something to you? Make sure that you are prioritizing real relationships over likes and retweets.
De-clutter: Take a hint from Marie Kondo, you will be happier if you tidy up your digital life too! Remove any apps that you no longer use- you certainly do not need them tracking your every move. Go through your social profiles and clean up any posts that you may cringe at now (this is a really good lesson for teens getting ready to start those college applications). Delete anything from your profile that does not ‘spark joy’, unlike or unfollow people and pages that clutter your feed with negativity, and be certain that a review of your digital profile reflects the best of you.
Unwind (and Unplug): I love a good Netflix binge like most of you! I have fun scrolling through funny tweets or following inspiring Instagram stories of moms who can do it all. I also recognize that I need a lot of time removed from too much outside input. I know that I need to be alone with my thoughts, focus on the task in front me, leave my phone behind while I hit the gym or go out for a walk. I insist that my family set aside their phones when we can sit down to a meal together (with 3 teens in the house that can be rare!). Remember to engage with the world and people in front of you.
iPhones, social media and texting are here to stay. Instead of allowing our tech to take over our lives we need to put it in its proper place. Our devices are tools to help us stay connected when necessary - it does not need to be permanently attached to us. Focus on purpose when reaching for your phone - do you need to check this now, what are you doing online and why? Being mindful in your tech use will help you find balance and establish healthy digital habits for you and your family.