Week Twelve: Digital Wellness in Times of Crisis
Normally I’d start this post by congratulating my regular readers on making it through the first two weeks of the digital detox we started in early March.
However, doing would ignore the (coughing, feverish) elephant in the room… being in the midst of a global pandemic feels like a horrible time to step away from ANY technology.
Many of us feel like we need technology right now, to…
- Catch up on the latest news.
- Learn how our friends and family are doing.
- Distract us from all this uncertainty and craziness.
So, if you’ve abandoned your digital detox, that’s OK. Giving yourself access to some news, updates, and distractions each day can be a healthy, helpful choice to make.
However, it’s important to also remember the Internet is a firehose that doesn’t really have a “some” setting. In times of crisis in particular, it can be overloaded with information — some helpful, some inflammatory, some triggering, some unverified, some threatening, some scary — all of it set to “deluge,” 24/7.
So, yes — whether you intend to finish the detox we’ve started together, tweak it to stay better connected while quarantined, or abandon the idea altogether — I still think this is an appropriate time to proceed with talking about setting good digital boundaries.
Your sanity and serenity in the coming months may depend on it.
New habits may reveal new problems
For many of us, being quarantined means we’re using technology more than ever before.
This will provide us with an excellent opportunity to identify habits or behaviors that feel unbalanced or unhealthy. We’ve touched upon two of these areas earlier in this course, but they bear repeating today:
- Spending more time using technology will have an impact on how you think, feel and act. Make sure you take time each day to assess those thoughts, feelings, and actions and adjust your behaviors/habits accordingly. For example, if you start each day feeling optimistic but then read a dozen news reports and suddenly feel like we’re all going to die, maybe you’re reading too much news and need to balance that out with lighter fare.
- Spending more time using technology will have an impact on your physical body. Again, please check in with that body periodically throughout each day to assess those sensations and adjust your behaviors/habits accordingly. If you’re not used to working remotely, (and have the means to do so) you may need to invest in some cushions, props, or stands to help with ergonomics. You may need to carve out time for regular exercise. You may need to unplug and engage in some analog pursuits like walks, reading, listening to music, etc.
In fact, many of the lessons presented in this eCourse over the past eleven weeks may be particularly helpful at this moment in time. If you’ve just found us, have down time, or didn’t get to peruse this course deeply before, maybe life is offering you an opportunity to explore this content now.
Fine tune your mental food plate
Because you may be spending more time using technology than usual, it’s more important than ever to examine the quality and quantity of the content you’re consuming each day.
That content affects your thoughts, which in turn, affects your actions, which in turn, affects your habits, which in turn, affects the trajectory and quality of your life.
To help explore this idea, we’re going to take some cues from David Ryan Polgar’s Mental Food Plate, which suggests that a healthy daily digital diet should be comprised of the following…
Really think about the content you put into your head each day. To use the food analogy, choose to “eat” whatever you like, just make sure your diet is diverse, well rounded, and not all coming from junk sources, (A topic which we’ll explore further next week.) Just like you might reconfigure your food diet to include more high quality ingredients, rich in the nutrients your body craves, sometimes you may need to balance out the digital “candy” you consume with more high quality fare.
This doesn’t refer to the act of consumption, but rather what happens afterwards, (i.e. the “digestion of your meals”). For all of the time you invest online each day, are you also taking an equal amount offline to process and think about what you’ve consumed and how you can apply that to your life, (as we talked about in Week 10)?
Rather than consuming content only for work or play, can you broaden your diet to include stuff that exercises your mind, helps you improve yourself and your life, or moves you from passive consumer to active creator? (We’re seeing huge examples of this online right now as more content creators are stepping up to the plate to share tutorials, classes, video tours, one-on-one training, etc.)
Again, to use the food analogy, there is often a disconnect between what we eat and our understanding of what that food does to our bodies. What are the repercussions from repeatedly consuming a low quality mental diet? As we talked about in the section above, (and in depth during Week 5 and Week 6 of this course), regularly tune into how the content you consume affects your thoughts, feelings, actions, and body, and make changes when those effects become unhealthy or unpleasant.
This week’s exercises
- Consider what your personal Mental Food Plate looks like. Are there any areas where you are currently undernourished? How can you shift your habits in the coming week to compensate for that?
- Continue your digital detox for a third week (if you want to/are able to). If possible, layer in quarantine-friendly activities like trying new hobbies, making time for deep thought/self-reflection, spending time in nature/exercising, or having virtual hangouts or making phone calls to people who may be struggling during this transition.
- Be kind to yourself. These are unprecedented times, my friends. If possible, try to do one nice thing for yourself every day to “fill up your tank” and keep yourself healthy and safe.
Next week we’ll continue this conversation about the content you consume, making sure it comes from sources you can trust. I look forward to seeing you then. Thank you for stopping by!
Want to participate in this eCourse?
1. Continue to drop by my blog or Medium account each Saturday where you can read the weekly post at your leisure, or…
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this course as we go. Feel free to leave comments on any of the posts or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share something privately.