Guest Post by Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
When working from home, there is an even greater need than normal to consider our digital wellness. In the absence, for example, of office colleagues to sit and chat with, our alternative at home is to turn to friends online and to use social media.
Whether you are a Mompreneur working from home running your own business, or just someone who seems to spend an awful lot of time on digital devices, understanding some basic tips on making sure that you maintain a decent level of digital wellness, might be worth knowing.
What is Digital Wellness?
Before looking at our five tips for managing your digital wellness, you might be wondering what digital wellness actually is.
As you can imagine, the digital aspect of Digital Wellness refers to the electronic side of wellness.
By digital technologies, we mean anything that works digitally, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and smart TVs and wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers.
These digital devices are all around us and integrated into our daily lives. So, when we talk about ‘Digital Wellness’, it certainly does not mean we need to stop using these devices.
There are though, as you will see from these tips, ways in which we can certainly strive towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle in terms of our relationship with digital devices.
1. Maintaining Positive Digital Connections
Working from home, our social life tends to take quite a different route in terms of who we connect with during the workday and beyond.
Working from a home office, it is far easier to get distracted and caught up in a debate you will never win anyway, and with a stranger, if a friend of a friend, on Facebook or another social media platform.
These unneeded non-productive and stressful interactions are one of the biggest stress causes. On the other hand, using social media and online interactions to create ‘meaningful’ connections is both rewarding and fun.
The key here is to make sure you show awareness of how you use online interactions. Always ask yourself if the interaction is a positive one in terms of your own wellness. Does the interaction lead to positive or negative emotions?
Some things you can certainly do include:
- Unfollow people who make you feel negative for whatever reason. Life is too short to be bothered with these unnecessary negative emotions.
- Consciously question the interactions you make online, especially during your workday when working from home. Is it a positive connection and interaction?
2. Productivity and Managing Your Time in Relation to Digital Devices
Managing time certainly becomes an issue when working from home, and dealing with these aforementioned issues, i.e. the ease with which many of us get drawn onto social media or news websites too many times a day.
We generally feel better mentally when we are more productive. Yet, working from home can lead many of us to turn unconsciously to social media and news sites as a way to connect to others and to what’s going on outside of our own home.
I recommend using a reward system. List no more than 5 bullet points with key tasks you would like to achieve each day and, if and when you achieve them, you get to reward yourself. Get your tasks done early for the day and allow yourself that 20 minutes doing whatever you want online.
Some other things you can do to be more productive time-wise include:
- Turning off notifications on your devices (only keep those you really need)
- Keep only necessary icons on your desktop and other digital devices. Do a clean-up.
- Consider using the ‘News Feed Eradicator’ browser extension if you use Facebook a lot.
If you use certain social media sites because of your marketing strategy for your own business, also try to keep a distinction between social and work-related updates and interactions.
3. Be Aware of Your Digital Footprint
The issue with much digital media content is that, once it is published online, it is very difficult to retract. Posting things online and having no way back is a cause of genuine stress for many people.
You may or may not be aware of web tools such as the ‘Wayback tool’ where they capture dated copies of websites (take a look at a version of your own blog or website from 2 or 3 years ago).
Get into the habit of asking yourself if things you post on a blog, website, or on social media platforms represent you well. Would you want a future employer to view these things?
Many employers now scan the Internet to try and understand who we are, before hiring us.
In terms of wellness, this digital footprint can be important because it can impact on your identity and sense of wellbeing.
4. Finding a Balance with the Non-Digital
Digital technologies are ubiquitous (all around us every day and everywhere). However, still take time out to proactively ensure that you do not lose touch with nature and the natural world around you.
Taking regular breaks away from a computer screen can, for example, not only help us to re-focus our eyes, but it can help to realign the brain.
One solution you might want to try is to set an alarm of your cellphone twice a day. On these points in time, why not take a walk in your garden and just sit and listen to the birds for 5 minutes? If you have no garden then why not do a walk of the block closest to your home? Stretch your legs, see some faces that are real people and not onscreen. Re-connect for five to fifteen minutes twice a day.
A lot of the ideas behind maintaining good digital wellness are perhaps obvious points. But we so easily get caught up with digital usage that we still tend to forget to do certain basic things. So, do remember to reconnect with the outdoors and things outside of your home twice a day.
5. Learn to Be Able to Separate Digital Lives from Non-Digital Lives
One of the biggest issues in digital wellness is the way in which other people portray themselves online. We only ever see the absolute best of some people and not the everyday.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the perfection that we sometimes see online and this leads many people to feel insecure.
Whenever looking at how others portray themselves online, always remember that we are most often seeing only a percentage of the real person. We only see the parts that they themselves wish to share.
If you find that certain sites, apps or interactions online leave you ever feeling negative, frustrated, or insecure, learn to step away from these media.
Continually focus on interactions with digital media that make you feel energised, make you more productive and that bring you rewards.
About the Author
Valeria taught sociology at the University of Bath, England, and has been involved in education for over 15 years.
Valeria also teaches and performs belly dance and she was born in Sicily, Italy.