How to look after your digital wellbeing
Digital technology is central to so much of what we do. This is more the case than ever during the coronavirus crisis and has enabled many of us to keep working and stay in touch with friends and family. Digital technology can also be extremely helpful in supporting many people’s mental health and wellbeing.
However, an ‘always-on’ culture can have a negative impact on our mental (and physical) health. It is important to attend to your digital wellbeing and get into good habits to protect yourself from being overwhelmed.
It is also easy to feel demoralised using social media. Try not to compare yourself with other people. What you are seeing on social media is not necessarily the reality of their life.
Make sure you have screen-free time at work and at home to give your brain, your eyes and your emotions a chance to calm down and relax.
Limiting digital intrusions while you are working also helps you become more focussed and productive.
- Turn off pop-up notifications and alerts on your computer/phone and make use of the ‘do not disturb’ or ‘sleep’ functions on your phone while you are working on tasks that require concentration. You will be much more productive and less distracted.
- Resist using your phone (social media, checking the news etc) during breaks. A break away from all screens allows your mind to recharge. You will be more focussed when you return.
- Resist checking or responding to messages while you are working. It will take you away from what you are doing and it will be harder to focus when you get back to it.
- Find ways to protect yourself from the build-up of emails and the need to react or respond instantly to any digital demand (email, text, WhatsApp etc). Using your email signature to signal when you are not available and effective use of tools such as out-of-office can help with this.
- If you need to work across different time zones, put in place boundaries saying when you are and are not contactable. For example, do you really need to respond to emails or messages straight away?
- Respect your need for sleep and home time. Manage your work so that it does not encroach on these. This is not being unreasonable or unhelpful, it is being sensible in terms of protecting your own wellbeing. If you find people expect you to be contactable at all hours, you could try putting your work phone out of sight when at home and leaving it there. Remember, you will work much more effectively if you have adequate sleep and downtime.
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