Before we talk about what digital wellbeing is, first, let’s talk about what it is not;
It’s not taking ten days offline, meditating in an ashram.
It’s not removing yourself from social media networks.
And it’s definitely not a mass technology ban.
Digital wellbeing, simply put, is feeling well, while connected (digitally).
Our digital connections are now more important than ever before. Many of us are socially isolated, lonely, and quite frankly a bit bored of it all. The goal with digital wellbeing is to feel better during, and after time spent online.
Why Is Digital Wellbeing Important?
Digital wellbeing is our mental, emotional, and physical response to digital and technology devices and services. By considering our relationship to these technologies we can develop healthier habits for an improved quality of life. Considering your digital wellbeing or digital nutrition is not unlike considering your diet, and it’s just as important. Digital wellbeing is about consuming what is good for you and paying attention to how you feel on a day-to-day basis.
The Physical Side Effects Of Digital Overload: you might also notice that your posture has become more hunched and your neck aches a little more than this time last year. These might not seem like overly serious complaints and they wouldn’t be if they were temporary or the only side effects. With a year of ongoing lockdowns, most people are online more than ever. Too much tech consumption should come with a health warning like we now see on cigarette packets, partly because it allows a sedentary lifestyle. When we sit for an extended period our muscle strength reduces dramatically. When we don’t move enough we also increase our risk of many chronic illnesses.
The Mental Health Side Effects Of Digital Overload: More and more research is proving that a heavy reliance on digital technology is leading to an increase of attention-deficit trait across all demographics. It has been proven that technology is highly addictive and negatively impacts our intelligence. So, yes – our smartphones are literally making us stupid.
How Do You Practice Digital Wellbeing?
Take ownership of your time online. This will change your relationship with tech and put the power back in your hands (and your mind!). Become very intentional, and conscious about your tech usage.
It’s Your Right To Disconnect
The recent move by the Irish government to legalising our right to disconnect is very positive. Organisations, and individuals must introduce healthy tech boundaries, so that we focus on what really matters. While working with some of Ireland’s best-known tech companies I’ve learned that increased time online doesn’t lead people to increase productivity. That’s not to say that technology isn’t useful, it is. However, our relationship with our devices, (like all our relationships) requires a little or as the case may be, a lot of work.
Below is a short digital wellbeing guide to help you gain control of yours. I hope you find it helpful.
How To Improve Your Digital Wellbeing
4 Steps to Digital Wellbeing
Step 1: Audit.
Dedicate a notebook to digital wellbeing. Every day for a full week audit your tech use: record screentime on your phone plus your devices plus Netflix, gaming, etc. Write it all down.
Step 2: Calculate.
At the end of the week if you decide you want to make changes dive deeper into the screentime tracker on your device and use this information to help you identify which digital tools are taking up unnecessary amounts of your time.
Step 3: Assess.
Note the apps and situations that feel stressful or lower your energy.
Step 4: Own it.
Get serious about your boundaries. Decide how much time you want to spend on your devices and on which apps. Write down 3 goals that make you feel genuinely excited.
Digital Wellbeing Breaks
To level up your wellbeing! Introduce regular digital wellbeing breaks, something like:
An afternoon during the working week that is free of digital tech.
Take a well-deserved social media holiday!
Putting your phone away for a nap while you watch a movie in peace.
Digital Wellbeing Apps
I am sometimes asked about the best digital wellbeing apps, my response is always that an app is not the solution to digital wellbeing. Choosing forests over filters is!
Take Regular Breaks
It is unrealistic for some of us to reduce the screentime. If this is the case for you, don’t worry, you can still take control of your digital wellbeing. Here’s how:
Stand up more (when on a call or in between meetings just get up out of your chair).
Go for a walk at lunch or before work.
Only check emails in the morning, midday, and an hour before you finish.
Switch off your computer and phone for a while after work and take a break from the noise.
Build stretches and exercise into every day. The HSE recommends 150 minutes of exercise every week or 30 mins, five days a week.
Above all else, listen to your body. Tune inwards and ask it what it needs – you might be surprised with the answer.
Want more practical mindfulness tips?
Sign up for the monthly Georgie & Me newsletter here.