What Digital Wellness Is and Why You Should Care About It

November is Digital Wellness month, but you may be wondering what exactly that means. Digital wellness refers to a healthy way of using technology that promotes mental, emotional and physical well-being. For many of us, our devices play a huge part in our lives. We always have our phones close by, our computers are necessary for school or work and it's even becoming popular to take notes on an iPad. You may think you know how often you use your technology, but it could be more often than you realize because of how much our devices help us in everyday tasks.

Many times, though, this help comes with a cost. What might be a quick text to your best friend turns into an hour of scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. You may be sending an email to your boss or a professor and slowly become distracted by a new video from your favorite YouTuber. Technology has a way of pulling us in, even when we don't intend to. Often, this excess usage has negative effects on our health. I don't know about you, but there have been many times when I'm swiping through Snapchat and land on a picture of my friends hanging out without me. The instant effect this has on my emotions is insane. Just like that, the rest of my night is spent scrolling through pictures of people together and feeling miserable that I'm not with them. Additionally, cyberbullying has damaged some people's entire lives. Others are obsessively focused on the number of followers and likes they have, and their confidence rises or falls along with these numbers. All of these things are serious strains on our emotional health resulting from technology. I'm sure you've experienced at least one of these struggles, so this November I encourage you to take notice of how technology is affecting your life.

If you don't feel like technology is harming your mental health, consider what it may be doing to your physical health. Are you spending hours crouched over your laptop at work? Is your neck sore from looking down at your phone? Does sitting inside on your devices keep you from getting exercise or going outside? Think about how you may be physically feeling after using your electronics because physical feelings usually reflect mental health too.

Your wellbeing is important. If you notice yourself feeling sad, drained or anxious after using your phone or any other device, see it as a sign. Take a break from being on your devices, and do something helpful to your health instead. When I feel negative after being on my phone or laptop, here are a few things I do to ground my emotions and thoughts back to a better place:

  • I journal about what I'm feeling and write down a few things that I'm grateful for.
  • I read a book (Harry Potter always puts me in a better mood).
  • I spend quality time with family or friends.
  • I take a walk outside or exercise.
  • I play with my dog because pets make EVERYTHING better (I mean, just look at that good boy)!

 

There are also lots of things you can do to take a break from technology and focus on the things that truly make you feel uplifted:

  • Turn off your notifications for social media or other unnecessary apps.
  • Unfollow, unfriend or mute people who make you feel bad or are not a part of your life anymore.
  • Download apps that help limit your screentime so you can't be pulled into looking at more. One great app is Freedom, which blocks you from going on certain apps and websites and allows you to schedule time away from them. 
  • Think twice before posting something. Is it necessary? Do you have good intentions? Will it help you or someone else? Consider things like these before posting everything about your life on social media. 
  • Delete apps you find yourself spending too much time on.
  • Resist being on your phone right after waking up or going to bed. These are the times when things have the greatest impact on your thoughts and feelings.

I know some of these things may be hard to control, especially if you're someone who's always using technology. But it's important to pay attention to your wellbeing and to know when to limit certain activities in order to take care of yourself. I hope these tips helped you and maybe opened your eyes to how much influence technology has on your overall health. Remember, you are important and you are cared for, no matter what you see online.