As working professionals of the digital age, we know how much technology has permeated our lives. We use smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices to stay connected to the digital world around us. Although these tools can boost productivity and connectivity, we must be mindful of our digital boundaries, as they can easily turn into compulsions instead of efficient tools. This is where digital wellness comes in.
In this article, you will learn the significance of digital wellness and tips and strategies to help you maintain a healthy digital balance. Let’s work together to ensure that technology works for us, rather than the other way around!
Wellness in the Digital Era
For a long time, corporate wellness programs have dedicated considerable attention to promoting the mental and physical well-being of their employees. Through workshops, programs, and tools, employers have aimed to help their employees manage stress, boost their physical activity, sleep better, and achieve greater happiness. It’s no surprise that corporations invest considerable time and money in tracking these metrics, as employee engagement and well-being are vital to their success.
But in the blink of an eye, our world has transformed radically. The coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented challenge to many workplaces, requiring companies to shift quickly and dramatically toward digital solutions. We have catapulted into a digital era, embracing remote work, e-learning, and virtual services at a staggering pace, akin to a five-year leap, as noted by McKinsey & Company. It has been a monumental shift, with lasting effects on business and customer behaviors.
Digital Wellness is now no longer optional – it’s integral not just to our lifestyle but also to organizational performance.
What Is Digital Wellness?
Digital Wellness can be defined as the highest level of physical, mental, and emotional health that individuals can attain while utilizing technology.
Achieving Digital Wellness is a crucial aspect of maintaining our overall health and well-being in today’s technology-driven world. To assist you in attaining this state of optimal wellness, the Digital Wellness Institute has collaborated with esteemed academic institutions across North America to create the Digital Flourishing® model.
This model is designed to empower individuals and organizations to cultivate positive digital practices in their daily lives by focusing on eight key dimensions of Digital Wellness, including productivity, environment, communication, relationships, mental health, physical health, the quantified self, and digital citizenship.
The Digital Flourishing® model recognizes that different areas of our lives are interconnected and aims to help individuals and organizations assess their wellness in each domain. It serves as a visual guide to help us evaluate and adjust the pressures we face in the ever-changing landscape of technology, ultimately leading to a greater sense of balance in our lives.
Remember, Digital Wellness is attainable for each of us, and the Digital Flourishing® model offers a path toward achieving it. With small, intentional steps towards positive digital practices in various dimensions of our lives, we can enhance our overall well-being and live a fulfilling life in the digital age.
How to Assess Digital Wellness?
What are the indicators of digital flourishing, and how can you enhance your Digital Wellness both quantitatively and qualitatively?
Rather than completely unplugging or spending all of our time online, it’s important to find a middle ground that allows us to flourish. Assessing our Digital Wellness involves looking at its impact across eight domains using the Digital Flourishing® model.
There are tools available to help us assess our level of Digital Flourishing® across these domains, such as the Digital Flourishing® survey. This allows you to identify areas where you can improve and give you a solid foundation upon which to build. This quantitative and qualitative approach also empowers teams and leaders to identify areas where they can collectively work towards improving their flourishing.
By focusing on our Digital Flourishing® rather than just our technology struggles, we can maintain our motivation and work towards achieving the best possible results. Whether you’re an individual or a team, striving for Digital Wellness is essential for maintaining optimal well-being in the digital age.
7 Tips for Maintaining Digital Wellness
Now that we’ve defined what is digital wellness and how to assess it, let’s dive into some tips for maintaining a healthy digital balance.
Be Mindful of Your Digital Use
Digital Wellness is about more than just taking a break from technology; it’s a comprehensive way of thinking about how we interact with it, where and when we use it, and what impact it has on our overall well-being. It’s about being mindful and intentional about how we use technology.
To help you assess your Digital Wellness, take a moment and reflect on your most commonly used apps and the amount of time you spend on each. Are these apps aligned with your values and priorities?
If you notice a misalignment between your app usage and your values, take a moment to reset by setting intentions for the week ahead. Maybe you decide to limit your social media time, or perhaps you set a goal to use your phone less during mealtimes or before bed. By setting these intentions and being more mindful about your technology use, you can cultivate a greater sense of control over your digital life.
Set Digital Boundaries
Finding ways to eliminate distractions can be a game changer when it comes to maintaining focus and productivity. One strategy to try is creating an “unplugged box” where you can store your phone and other devices out of sight and out of mind. This can be as simple as a drawer in your desk or a box on a shelf.
A recent study found that even if you manage to resist the temptation to check your phone, simply having it nearby can reduce your cognitive capacity by up to 10 percent. This is because your brain is expending mental energy anticipating the possibility of receiving a notification or message, which takes your attention away from the task at hand. By removing the device from your immediate environment, you can free up valuable mental resources and stay more focused on your work or other activities.
Take Regular Breaks From Screens
Spending excessive amounts of time staring at screens can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. This is why it’s essential to take regular breaks from screens and provide our eyes and minds with a much-needed respite.
One effective way to reduce the negative impact of screen time is to take short breaks throughout the day. You can stretch your legs, take a quick walk, or engage in activities that don’t require you to be glued to your device. Taking a few minutes to break away from your screen every hour can significantly reduce stress levels, especially if you take the time to focus on something distant rather than staring continuously at your screen.
By allowing your eyes and brain to rest from the constant stimulation of screens, you can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing headaches, eye strain, and other physical discomforts associated with excessive screen time. So, take a break, move around, and give yourself a chance to recharge and refresh. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
Practice Digital Cluttering
Just like how a clean and organized physical space can improve our mental clarity and productivity, digital decluttering can have the same effect. It’s easy to accumulate digital clutter in the form of overflowing inboxes, desktops cluttered with files, and unorganized folders on our devices. This clutter can add to our stress levels, decrease our productivity, and even make it harder for us to focus.
To start decluttering, begin by clearing out your inbox. Go through each email and decide if it’s necessary to keep it or not. Unsubscribe from newsletters and promotional emails that you no longer need or want to receive. This will not only clear out your inbox but also reduce the number of emails you receive in the future.
Next, take a look at your desktop and files. Delete any files that are no longer necessary and organize the rest into folders that make sense to you. This will make it easier to find what you need when you need it, which will save you time in the long run.
Remember that digital decluttering is an ongoing process. Just like physical clutter, it can accumulate over time if left unattended. Make it a habit to regularly go through your inbox and files to keep things organized and clutter-free. By taking the time to declutter your digital space, you’ll be able to focus better, be more productive, and reduce your stress levels.
Optimize Your Workspace
Invest in ergonomics: Raising your computer to a comfortable height can improve your posture and overall health, reducing the risk of physical strain. If you work in an office, it may be helpful to suggest investing in ergonomic equipment, including adaptable laptop stands and supportive chairs, to help maintain proper posture. If you work remotely, it’s worth exploring ergonomic equipment options to ensure that you can work in comfort at home too.
Differentiate work and home space: If you’re working from home, it’s important to differentiate your workspace from your “home” space, if possible. This can help your brain to more easily distinguish between “work” and “home” activities. Consider creating a designated workspace that is separate from your relaxation or leisure areas. This will help you to mentally prepare for work and to separate yourself from it when the workday is over.
Get plenty of natural light: Natural light can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being. Consider utilizing a workspace that has plenty of natural light to boost your mood and improve your productivity. If you don’t have access to natural light, consider investing in a light therapy lamp or light bulbs that mimic natural sunlight.
Add a green touch: A Japanese study reveals that simply having a small plant on your desk can significantly decrease anxiety and stress levels within four weeks. Give your workspace a green makeover and unlock your potential for tranquility and improved productivity.
Disconnect After Work
Disconnecting from work-related tasks after working hours may seem challenging at first, but setting boundaries and establishing a routine can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Try to set a specific time each day to disconnect from screens and work-related tasks, and stick to it.
Use this time to do something that brings you joy or helps you relax, such as spending time with loved ones, reading a book, or practicing mindfulness. By disconnecting from work-related tasks, you allow your mind and body to rest and recharge.
Remember, your mental health and well-being are just as important as your work. Taking time to disconnect and prioritize self-care can help you feel more balanced and productive in the long run.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
To improve your sleep quality, try to avoid using screens for at least an hour before bedtime. Use this time to unwind and relax, read a book, or practice some gentle stretching. This will help your body and mind transition into a more restful state and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
Additionally, establishing a regular sleep routine can help improve your sleep quality. It’s recommended that you try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle, making it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It’s also important to avoid keeping any tech devices, such as smartphones, i-watches, and laptops, in your bedroom as they can disrupt your sleep by emitting blue light that stimulates your brain and hinder your ability to drift off into a peaceful slumber. Instead, try practicing relaxation techniques before bed to help you wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Remember, Digital Wellness is a journey, not a destination. The goal of Digital Wellness is not to completely disconnect from technology but to find a healthy balance that allows you to use technology in a way that aligns with your values and supports your overall well-being. By taking small steps towards being more intentional about your digital habits, you can create a more balanced and fulfilling relationship with technology.
- Amy Blankson and Nina Hersher. Digital Wellness eBook. Digital Wellness Institute. 2019.
- Adrian F. Ward, Kristen Duke, Ayelet Gneezy, and Maarten W. Bos. “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity”. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. 2017.
- Toyoda, Masahiro, Yuko Yokota, Marni Barnes, and Midori Kaneko. “Potential of a Small Indoor Plant on the Desk for Reducing Office Workers’ Stress”. HortTechnology hortte 30.1 (2020): 55-63. 2020.