“When we overuse technology to support us in creating relaxation, it directly affects our mental, physical and emotional well-being.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Monroe, Founder of the International Association of Wellness Professionals (IAWP).

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

Thanks for having me! I’m excited to be sharing how technology is related to wellness and what we can do to create healthier lives in the world we live in today. I first became interested in wellness when I was working in a stressful, corporate career 20 years ago. Back then, technology was just starting to ramp up with the introduction of laptops and later smart phones. I became burned out from around the clock hours that only seemed to be increasing with more technology. I wanted to find a career that would allow me to pursue my passion for holistic health and wellness, help and inspire others and enjoy what I did everyday with less stress. Today I wake up to work I love teaching Wellness Coaches across the globe how to pursue their passion of helping others to live a healthy life.

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

While I wanted to escape the pressures of corporate life, I’ve found that technology will follow you wherever you go! The good news is, you can work with technology to support you rather than deplete you. Today I own an online education company and international association and everything we do runs on technology. So things have come full circle in that respect.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Right now the IAWP continues to be focused on our mission of changing the health of people everywhere by training Wellness Coaches to inspire others to live a healthy life. Our Fall Enrollment for our Wellness Coach Certification is underway and it’s an exciting time as students across the globe are joining us and beginning Wellness Coach career journey.

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?

Before technology was ingrained in our personal life, watching some television in the evening was a way to unwind. But today because we are constantly using technology throughout the day, we need to find new ways to unwind and create balance. Watching television for example is not an appropriate mental break from your smart phone. When we overuse technology to support us in creating relaxation, it directly affects our mental, physical and emotional well-being. We spend less time moving our bodies and more time moving our thumbs. We spend less time being present and developing mindfulness and more time scrolling our news feed. The mind and brain get used to the numbing affects of technology instead of developing healthier ways of relaxation that can include talking with a friend, sharing your day with a loved one, keeping a journal to release your thoughts, or simply breathing and just being aware of the moment and your surroundings.

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

  1. Take breaks from screens before you need it. Some people designate one day per week where they don’t access social media at all. Others place limits like turning it off after a certain hour of the day or restricting the number of times they hop on a platform. Find your happy place and then don’t feel guilty for engaging a little less for your own sanity.
  2. Find something that helps you relax every day. Instead of using screens to “numb out” or relax, find something in real-time that can support your self-care and relaxation. This could be a yoga class, a quiet meditative corner, or a new hobby that makes you sit and relax. You could integrate a massage or a solitary walk. You know what things trigger relaxation in your body and mind, and that fits into your busy life. Do more of that.
  3. Look around you. Take time to literally move your face from looking at a screen to what is happening right in front of you. This is a first step to cultivating awareness about what else is important in the present moment. Do you noticed the wind blowing or birds singing or your child talking to you? Even if this is challenging, practice it a few times a day and see what happens.
  4. Examine your life. What areas are going well? Which do you wish were going better? Consider if there are ways in which technology could be affecting your current circumstances. At the IAWP, we have a tool we called the Wellness 360 Wheel https://iawpwellnesscoach.com/lp3/ which helps you to notice all of the areas that impact your well-being. This is a great place to start.
  5. Sleep enough and consistently every night. while you might think sleep has nothing to do with technology, it actually is often directly related. This is an important self-care strategy and one that needs to be a priority above screen time. No one feels great when they are sleep deprived, and spending extra time on screens before bed can disrupt sleep patterns. No matter how healthy the rest of your lifestyle is. Take screens out of your bedroom and shut them down at least one hour before bed. Find a healthy alternative like reading or talking with a family member. Prioritize sleep and create a nighttime routine to set up your circadian rhythm for sustainable change.

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?

Whether it’s a spam call or any other call, you don’t need to immediately respond to every ring or ping. Allow calls to go to voicemail so you can filter your calls. You can also use the feature that blocks callers when you continue to receive repeated calls for unknown numbers.

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?

One of the biggest mistakes parents are making right now is allowing their children 24–7 access to their phones. A simple step parents can make and younger adults can choose to make on their own is to remove their smartphone from their bedroom at night and create a shut-off time. In this way, young people can use their phone responsibly and also take a needed break from social interaction, messaging and being online.

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?

The effect that checking your smartphone first has on your day is that you are not consciously choosing how you want to start your day, you are starting your day from someone else’s agenda for you. Other people’s questions, concerns, and posts are directing how you will begin your day. Choosing how you want to begin your day, doing those things first and then checking your smartphone is well, a smart way to do things to create a more fulfilling day.

Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?

“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.” — Billy Cox
Whether it’s making a change to use less technology or trying another healthy habit or starting a new career that is in alignment with your passion and values — they all require getting out of our comfort zones to try something new and ultimate create more fulfillment.

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’m so grateful that I am a part of a wellness movement that is teaching and inspiring others to create healthier, better lives. While I’m the founder of the IAWP, our wellness movement is not something I have done alone. Each of our students and graduates is leading this important movement, whether in their own communities, families, school and workplaces.

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

Facebook: facebook.com/InternationalAssociationOfWellnessProfessionals
Instagram: @theiawp

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