“We spend a lot of time on these screens playing the comparison game- we compare houses, lifestyles, bodies, and just about anything we can.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melody Pierce, an eating disorder recovery and body acceptance coach located in Arizona. Melody has been an advocate since she started her own recovery journey seven years ago and now works with multiple nonprofits to help raise awareness and provide resources to those dealing with an eating disorder or body image roadblocks.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?

After being diagnosed with an eating disorder at a very young age and embracing recovery years later, I knew I had a purpose in this journey. I recovered with the help of my community, including foundations like the National Eating Disorder Association, and once I was able to recover I knew I wanted to give back to a community that was so dedicated to helping me. I immediately jumped on board with some local nonprofits like Circles of Change and the Andy Hull Sunshine Foundation to share my story of recovery and help others. I now speak across the state of Arizona in schools, treatment centers and just about anywhere that will have me. I also created a curriculum packet to help community members tackle eating disorders and body issues, this curriculum is what fueled my passion to start my own business as a recovery coach. I graduated from Arizona State University with a Journalism/Public Relations degree and decided to get certified as a coach through the Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy online program. At 22 years old, none of this could be possible without the people who have been committed to my success and I now want to dedicate my life to supporting and fueling others.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Being a recovery coach is an interesting career in and of itself, I navigate an array of personalities and illnesses on a daily basis so I am always kept on my toes!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Yes! Beyond starting this business and trying to get it off the ground, I am working on connecting with local treatment centers to grow support group programs across my state that follow my S.T.E.P.S acronym.

Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?

I think we spend a lot of time on these screens playing the comparison game- we compare houses, lifestyles, bodies, and just about anything we can. This has an impact on our mental and emotional health more than I believe we often times realize. We start thinking that everyone has these picture-perfect lives (literally) and I think it’s up to us as consumers of this media to make a change.

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

  1. Set boundaries. I know everyone and their mother will tell you to set boundaries with technology but I’m not talking about the whole “I’m not going to check my phone after 8 p.m.” because that isn’t something that is personally realistic for me so I’m not going to ask you to do it. I figured out a new way to set boundaries and that is to be selective. Be selective of what you are responding to, who you are following, what app you’re opening- just make more of an active choice when it comes to technology instead of a passive one.
  2. Make your device reflect your world. Follow all types of people doing all types of things, not just aesthetically pleasing feeds or people who share your same viewpoint.
  3. Do more than text or check your email/Instagram. We get sucked into these black holes of negative conversation, unrealistic photos or overwhelming task lists but truth is you always have a choice if you are going to feed into that or not. Your phone has a capacity to do some pretty remarkable things so simply do something else: listen to a podcast, color a page, make a funny video, just do something that makes you happy and fuels you in a positive way.
  4. Don’t take a photo you’re not in. Okay so maybe you haven’t washed your hair in four days and you have a giant pimple on your face but I can still guarantee you that you will want to look back and laugh about how funny it was when you danced in your backyard for hours or got that trendy coffee with your best friend on the last day of summer. So instead of taking a photo of some random object, document every memory with a smile that you will actually want to scroll back on.
  5. If it makes you happy, keep it. If it makes you upset, walk away.

51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?

Let people leave more voicemails! I typically don’t answer the phone unless it is a number that I know. If they really want to chat they won’t hesitate to leave a quick message about why they are calling.

Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?

Creating a healthy relationship doesn’t come from checking it less, it comes from following the right people. I have a rule in life that if I am going to spend an obscene amount of time on my phone that the information I am taking in needs to reflect the world around me. This starts with following all types of people who are of different abilities, skin colors, religions, sizes, genders, etc.

By doing this I know that my feed is not saturated with unrealistic expectations of beauty or a bunch of people that think the same way I do, but instead, I’m reading stories created by all different types of people across the world and celebrating what makes us all unique. This simple practice helps cut out that comparison game and create legitimate bonds with the people behind the phones.

80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?

Here’s the thing- I’m 100% guilty of this and don’t see my pattern of checking my phone changing anytime soon BUT I am mindful of what app I click into first. Maybe instead of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook in the morning, scroll through a book or open up the podcast app and occupy your screen time with that instead. Happiness is priority #1 and your morning will absolutely set the mood for that so if/when you do pick up your phone just choose wisely and pick an app that will fuel you in a good way.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to see my S.T.E.P.S. movement take off and create big change for the eating disorder/body acceptance community. S.T.E.P.S. is the acronym that fuels my coaching and also encompasses a memorable way for community members to get involved when discussing eating disorders/body satisfaction. S.T.E.P.S. stands for Support, Talk, Educate, Prepare and Strengthen, you can check out how all of that comes into play on my website www.stepsrecoverycoach.com. Let’s be real- we ALL have body issues, men and women alike pick apart our features on a daily basis, but why? What about our inner psyche thinks that being thinner or taller or whatever it might be will solve our problems? My job as a coach is to help people find the root of that thought and discover a path where they can fully appreciate and embrace their bodies. I made a pact after being controlled by my eating disorder to actually LIVE MY LIFE, so what about you? Imagine a life without food guilt, calorie counters and obsessive diets- let’s get closer to that. If I could accomplish helping even ten people follow that idea, that’s my movement.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram @melodyyfaith or visit my website www.stepsrecoverycoach.com and follow my business @s.t.e.p.s.recovery.

Thank you for this interview. It was very insightful!

This interview is part of an interview series by Dan Pannasch, Product Manager of RoboKiller, the robocall blocking app that gets even with spammers. You can check it out at robokiller.com.

Originally published at medium.com