Digital wellness is much more than a buzz phrase. Most of us lead constantly connected lives, whether we’re actively using our devices, checking them several dozen times an hour, or keeping them close by, as we wait for notifications.
Some of what we experience through our devices is overwhelmingly positive — practical, educational, fun. There were several benefits of easily accessible tech use during the pandemic, when many people shifted to working from home, remote learning, accessing care through telehealth, and limiting in-person activities. At the same time, there can be disadvantages from the expectation of always being available, inescapable reliance on tech, and exposure to negative online experiences.
According to the Pew Research Center, 31% of adults — and 44% of those between the ages of 18 and 49 — are online almost constantly, while 85% of adults go online daily and 48% go online several times every day.
The amount of time we spend online and what we experience impacts our health and overall wellbeing. “We all need to start thinking about how our behaviors with digital devices affect our physical and mental health,” shares Kristelle Lavallee, Digital Wellness Lab senior strategist. “Digital wellness needs to be addressed as a critical part of overall health and wellbeing in today’s world.”
What are the pitfalls of not taking care of your digital wellness?
According to a recent Gallup poll, about 67% of adult workers said being “always on” had a significant negative impact on their health and wellbeing. The same amount experienced burnout, citing perpetual connectivity as cheating them out of the necessary time to recharge.
You can start to improve your digital wellness today with these six tips.
Choose what you view – where you visit and what you see. If it doesn’t make you smile, excite you, or inspire you, you can choose to unfollow or mute it.
Remember that what you see is not always reality, whether it’s filtered, cropped, altered, or staged. A recent study showed that only 29% of people post photos without altering them.
Choose with whom you engage. Simply put, stay away from anyone who brings you down. It’s not always easy, especially if the person is a friend, but you can at least take a break for your wellness.
Monitor and limit how much time you spend online. Whether you set your own boundaries or use tech to help you, discover how frequently you use different apps and check your devices, set timers to limit app usage, schedule Do Not Disturb mode to help you sleep, and turn on focus mode to pause distracting notifications.
Take short breaks from your devices. Tech pauses will help you be fully present with what’s going on around you; they’re good for your eyes, neck, back, and hands; and they help you keep what you see on your devices in perspective.
Do a digital detox. Before you’re feeling overwhelmed, set aside time to disconnect from all of your devices. Your digital detox can include a whole day, weekend, or even longer with minimal to no technology. Let friends and family know of your plans, and set up a way for them to be in touch with you in case of an emergency.
When I hike, my phone becomes a selfie camera and an emergency communication device. I do not check app notifications or emails while I’m on the trails. I look forward to this break every week. Otherwise, I feel connected 24/7 and find it draining. When I unplug for an entire weekend, I let those close to me know that I will not be checking my devices.
While it was my experience with cyberstalking and harassment that taught me its importance, I realized it’s critical for all of us to regularly strive to maintain healthy digital wellness habits.
The time we spend online impacts us in many ways. Whether you immediately adopt all six tips or start with just one, taking control of your digital wellness will positively affect your happiness, your health, and your wellbeing.