Twenty years ago, talking about the wellbeing of a person meant merely talking about their physical and mental health. However, times change. Today, one’s wellbeing includes digital health; also known as digital wellbeing.
As we move into 2023, it is likely that digital technology will continue to play a significant role in our daily lives. With the increasing reliance on technology for work, education, and socialization, it will be important to continue to focus on digital wellbeing in order to maintain overall health and happiness.
What is Digital Wellbeing?
Digital wellbeing, or digital wellness, is when one is intentionally and mindfully engaging with their digital and natural environment to ensure their mental, physical, and social health. It encompasses the totality of their time spent in a digital environment, how they embrace and utilize digital resources, and the balance they build between the digital and natural.
The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory is an effective tool for checking one’s life stressors and measuring the state of their overall wellbeing, including digital wellbeing. Unfortunately, with the increase in digital addiction and poor digital behaviors, the mental and social health of people has paid a price.
The digital world, with its flashiness and ability to take you momentarily outside of your physical environment, tends to draw one’s attention faster and easier than anything else. Not only that, but it lights up the pleasure parts of the brain in a similar way to anything addictive, causing tendencies towards addiction.
This pull that comes from devices can be hard to ignore, easily distracting people from the lives and responsibilities that are right in front of them. Affecting relationships, work, and their overall reality, the digital world begins to increase stress and decrease their wellbeing. Add into the mix that a growing number of people work in a digital format and cannot just pull away from the screen, and you have a recipe for highly stressed, digitally unwell, individuals.
In an increasingly digital society, focusing on your digital wellbeing is essential. As it becomes more and more obvious that one’s wholeness and health depends on how they engage online and the amount of time they spend in the digital world, it is also becoming obvious that an intentional focus on wellness is imperative.
What is Digital Self-Care?
One aspect of digital wellbeing that may become even more important in the coming year is the idea of digital self-care. Digital self-care involves taking care of one’s own digital wellbeing by setting boundaries with technology, being mindful of how much time is spent online, and finding ways to disconnect from the digital world regularly. This can include setting limits on screen time, taking breaks from screens, and finding activities that do not involve technology.
Prioritize Relaxation and Mindfulness
Another trend that may emerge in 2023 is the use of technology to promote relaxation and mindfulness. There may be an increase in the use of apps, websites, and other digital resources that help people to meditate, practice yoga, and find other ways to de-stress and unwind. These tools can be particularly helpful for people who work in high-stress environments or who have difficulty relaxing due to the demands of the digital world.
In addition to focusing on digital self-care and finding ways to relax and de-stress, it will also be important to be mindful of the ways in which technology is used. This can include being aware of the amount of time spent on social media and other digital platforms, as well as being mindful of how much personal information is shared online. By being aware of these issues and taking steps to protect one’s privacy and security, individuals can improve their digital wellbeing and maintain a healthy balance in their lives.
Digital Wellbeing Tips and Resources
Here are some resources you can use to enhance your digital wellbeing:
Check-in On Your Stress
I first learned about the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory in a Creativity class (yes, that’s a thing) in college. And I’ve been sharing this with colleagues and clients alike during the pandemic, and a close colleague even quit when she noticed stress being way above a health threshold (one job is stressful enough, let alone two). Besides having helped those closest to me, it has helped me check in on my stress levels to maintain a healthy balance.
Visit Relaxing Websites
There are multiple websites designed to aid in relaxation and stress relief. For people who spend a great deal of time online, such as professionals who work remotely, the ability to have a moment where they can pause and be mindful makes a world of difference.
Relaxation websites provide tools for meditation and mindfulness, giving people a break from their stressors and digital focus. They can help recenter and create balance, through sound, thought, breath, and intention.
Here are some relaxing websites to check out:
Come back to your natural senses. Focus on your breathing and the world around you. Rainy Mood is the sound of rain falling. You can use this as a momentary break from the digital world or keep it playing as you go about your work to keep you relaxed and balanced.
Pixel Thoughts takes you into a meditative place, allowing you to contemplate your stressors and realize how minute they truly are. As you breathe deep, you’ll watch your stressor fade away.
The Quiet Place project is a reminder that you do not need to be constantly tuned in. It helps you to disconnect momentarily and remember that life does not solely consist online. When you’re feeling bogged down by notifications and digital to-do lists and all of the platforms, heading to The Quiet Place can be the break that you need.
Check Your Digital Wellbeing and Manage Screen Time
Google has a digital wellbeing website that enables you to check your digital experience and wellbeing in order to find the right balance. Start by checking your current experience and learning how to develop tech habits that are right and healthy for you. Google’s Digital Wellbeing resource is a great way to discover your essential digital balance, and manage screen time for yourself and especially for the young, developing minds of children.
Observe Recommendations for Screen Time by Age (Especially for Families)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is a certain amount of recommended screen time and entertainment screen time even for us adults.
This graphic by gamequitters.com depicts recommendations well. You can find more evidence-based details on that from the American Phycological Association (APA) here. While it could be harmful there are advocates that apps can be designed for better parent-child interactions and their mental health needs to be taken into consideration.
Make Time for Movement Breaks
I know all too well what it’s like to be in front of a monitor since I work remotely, well before the pandemic. And I’ve had a computer since I was about six years old. Along with the above tips, taking movement breaks has been critical for my own well-being. There’s something physiological about being in open green spaces, and just getting some movement, for both mental and physical health.
Consider the 80/20 Rule
Coupled with movement breaks, a standing desk helps (I have two), and making use of the Pareto principle with the 80/20 rule for productivity goes a long, long way. Simply put: focus your efforts on where they will make the most impact. Feel free to also use this as a rough gauge on when you should be taking breaks (e.g., work for 40 minutes and take 10 minutes for a break).
As you begin to focus on your digital wellness, keep in mind that it’s not just about spending less time online. In fact, many people who work online aren’t really able to reduce their digital time. Instead, digital wellness is about getting to know yourself, your habits, and your feelings, in order to develop better habits and a healthy, sustainable relationship with your devices.
I hope this piece has been helpful in some way, and I wanted to share it with you rather than just keep my running list of wellbeing resources to myself. Please share or comment if you found some helpful tips, and do explore the Fabulous app if you want to dive deeper into positive behavior change.