Digital Wellness – The Impact of Digital Devices on our Mental Wellbeing

Interconnected world

With the invention of anything used by the majority of the society there are going to be pros and cons and in the “digital age”, technological devices are no different. There are people alive today that were alive when phones, computers and other gadgets were unheard of. Yet we cannot see the foreseeable future without these inventions in some form. It is still the dawn of the digital age and there is a lot of society as a whole that needs to learn about its impact.

The rate at which we progress is a few steps ahead of us understanding those things. A good example is an e-cigarette or vape device. It was developed, mass-produced and marketed worldwide in a few years before governments and health organizations had a chance to even comment on its risks. Now we know a bit more about it, that it contains harmful chemicals, can lead to young adults consuming nicotine and battery hazards but we still do not know the long-term impact of this because it is still relatively new.

Most people against vaping, understand it is not as bad as cigarettes rather concerned about the fact that those that do vape, are not fully aware of the risks.

However, vaping relates to our respiratory system which we know fairly well. Unlike the mind which we have been studying for thousands of years and still in the dark about many things. We can only observe over a period of time, make deductions based on premised guidelines we have accumulated. There may be people who think we know how the mind works for the most part, but if we know that then it would be common knowledge by now. If it were common knowledge then why is it that there is a higher percentage of people with depression today than there were decades ago. There would be many factors that would contribute to the increase but the one I will be focusing on is technology, specifically, digital devices and its impact on our digital wellness.

Devices that are Part of our Lives

This is all devices, whether it is used for work or home. Smartwatches to gaming consoles, media players to your internet-connected fridge and cellphones to rack-mounted servers. You may or may not use it but someone uses it to provide you with a service or product and now it has had an impact on your life.

Negative Digital Wellness

These are some common ways in which digital devices impact our mental wellness negatively.

Are you getting your sleep?

Sleep is important and the bottom line is most of us including myself have a habit of using our phones or gaming before we sleep. Some of us for different reasons but never is it a life or death situation. We spend our waking moments looking at screens during work, replying to messages and liking photos and at the end of the day we still cannot get enough of it.

sleeping cat  sleeping can improve your digital wellness

If you think you are trying to maximize the “me time” then news flash, unless you are talking to a loved one that isn’t with you before sleeping, using your phone is not considered “me time”. You are disconnecting yourself from reality and losing a sense of how tired your body is. It is better to get the sleep you need and wake early if you need to.

Sleep Interruptions

Your phone should be off or silent when sleeping. If you have a job that requires you to take a call at any time, unless you are the president or part of the defense forces, you need to get another job. Restful sleep and sleep can be differentiated by your REM cycles. REM or rapid eye movement sleep is what our body needs to achieve restful sleep. If this is broken during the night, it is hard to get back into that state for many people. Even if you get 9 hours of restless sleep, a person with 4 hours restful sleep has got more bodily rest and would feel much better upon waking.

Online High School

The internet has joined the entire world together which means you can see who else your friends are talking to without leaving your house.

We constantly want to improve ourselves and explore its human nature. But this turned sideways and now we compare ourselves with people online all over the world. Further, people can tell you whatever they want without the risk of getting punched in the gut. This goes much deeper psychologically into human behaviour but the takeaway is that the polarization of human sensitivity and emotions, lowers the self-esteem of many individuals.

Move your Body

exercise illustration.

The human body was designed to move through millennia of evolution to allow us to adapt to our environment and survive. Lack of movement because you do not need to as much anymore will lead to many physical and mental ailments. Increased stress, body aches, mental fatigue and the list goes on. We know the solution to this one. Exercise, do yoga, go for a run and release those endorphins.

A Positive Impact

Of course, there are positive things that have come about with digital devices and for the sake of completeness, I will list the common ones here.

Productive Distractions

Devices like gaming consoles, smartphones and such provide us with the ability to distract ourselves when we need to. They reduce stress and anxiety which are big pluses but just like sugar that your body needs, too much of it is a bad thing.

Small World

We get to connect and interact with people from all over the world. Share and collaborate ideas, make friends and even enjoy multiplier games. The global community was formed with the birth of the internet.

Improved Efficiency leads to an Improved Mood

There is much more we can do individually with a computer or phone compared to doing things manually. With the rate at which we progress, tasks where devices are used are further improved upon. When we are feel efficient and complete tasks, this gives us a feeling of accomplishment.  

Shopping! Shopping! Shopping!

If you can think of it, chances are someone out there is selling it online which can be delivered right to you. This is convenience at its finest. The same can be said if you want to sell someone online. Side note, if you are looking to start your eCommerce store we can help you achieve that. Click Here.

Ways to Improve your Mental Wellness

There are many ways which I will mention to improve your Mental Wellness but they all entail two key attributes. Your awareness and discipline without which, blindly following some online help guide is not going to take you anywhere.

Your Bedroom

This is a place for rest and winding down, not your home office or playroom. I know people may have limited options in this regard and that is something that eventually needs to change. Where you sleep regularly needs to be free from distractions of any kind. If you do not intend to sleep, don’t lay in bed on your phone rather, go to the lounge or somewhere else. You will save yourself a surprising amount of time you can do something else with and you will get better rest.

Manage your Body

If you do not manage your body, who will? Balance the time you spend on devices with some physical activity. It doesn’t always have to be a workout or exercise. Something that doesn’t involve any digital device. Could be a chore or outside activity, doesn’t matter. As long as you use your hands and feet to do something. It helps keep you aware of your body and mentally grounded to reality.

Digital Devices and Kids

If you have children, you must manage the time they spend on their devices. Allocate or schedule time for them to use their devices, this includes the TV. This should be a small portion of the day. Side note, televisions are not babysitters. Also, remember you cannot completely bar them from using devices. Doing so will negatively impact their skills later on.

Untether Yourself

Sometimes you just need to cut away all those cables and disconnect from devices altogether. Well, you must, and not just when you take your one or two weeks annual leave. Set aside a few days a month or a few hours on certain days, whatever works for you. Doing so will improve your overall well-being significantly.

untether yourself from digital devices

Summary

The digital age is in its infancy and so is our knowledge of the long term impact of digital devices on our mental wellness. Further research and study will need to be done on the different related areas. My opinion is that most companies are more interested in work productivity than human wellness to be competitive. This leads to a stigma of rewarding overloaded and overworked employees. This is a whole different topic.

For now, we need to be aware of the risks and discipline ourselves to take corrective action to manage our mental wellness.