Can tech help us to feel better?
There are tons of articles, blogs, and videos warning us about the dangers of using technology and how it can impact our wellbeing. Reports of worry regarding our use of social media and ‘screen time’ can make us feel guilty or concerned about our use of digital.
With the pandemic causing mayhem to our usual lives, many of us have turned to our devices to stave off boredom or loneliness, which has been great – can you imagine if we had been in lockdown pre-internet or without mobiles phones! Our usual activities were restricted, cancelled or postponed, leaving us with more opportunity to get wrapped up in our technological worlds. But technology also has the power to leave us feeling overwhelmed and at times distressed – not surprisingly! With the fear-inducing information from the news and media, doom scrolling, and “zoom fatigue”, it would be hard not to feel a little blue.
So, should we stop using our devices? That seems rather extreme. We should instead consider using our devices more consciously in order to remain unscathed by the negative effects of technology.
Digital wellbeing refers to the state of personal wellbeing experienced through the healthy use of digital technology. It is referring to how we use digital in our lives rather than avoiding it or cutting down – especially during times when we are rather reliant on it!
So we’re bored? We look to our devices for entertainment, what’s wrong with that? Well seeking entertainment isn’t a problem. But can we remember what we saw, watched, liked or read? Or did we do it on autopilot, mindlessly? The problem with this mindless behaviour is that we are training our brains, consciously or not, to be overstimulated. When we are constantly seeking stimulation for the brain our mindless use of devices will increase, and this can be problematic.
Not all device usage is mindless though, we can be using devices for productivity, wellbeing and learning. But how?
There are apps and extensions we can use to limit screen time during productive hours, and some even provide incentives to keep us focused on work or the task at hand.
“I think one of the best apps I’ve personally found for productivity is the Forest App. It’s a nice, simple concept, grow your own virtual forest by not using your phone. If you use your phone while the trees are growing, you risk them dying! And no one wants a dead tree in their forest! There is even a deep focus mode that will block use of all your other apps while the focus timer is on!” Diego, Beingwell UI/UX Developer
We can use our devices to work on our wellbeing, to improve it, learn more and even develop coping strategies for ourselves. There are literally so many ways to do this now, with apps like Headspace and Calm for guided meditations, videos on YouTube or other streaming sites, and even wellbeing groups on social media sites now.
“I love Insight Timer which is a mediation app. It’s free and has thousands of different meditations to choose from. My personal favourites are by Sarah Blondin, very poetic!” Sam, our Content Developer & Delivery Specialist
Physical health apps are plentiful, from fitness trackers to meal planners to simple tutorials. Whether we’re a ‘Sporty Susan’ or ‘Lazy Larry’, there is something to suit us all. Our fitness-fanatic members of Beingwell are keen users of smart-watches for tracking health and movement.
“I use a Garmin watch for running, for the heart rate monitor regardless of how fit or unfit I am in terms of pace and time, the monitor tells me honestly how hard or not I am pushing it. I focus on doing the best I can there and then rather than competing with myself,” Duncan, Beingwell Business Development Director
“My favourite fitness tech is a step tracker. Using either my Garmin watch or phone, I aim to do 10,000 steps per day – and I’m always shocked to see how sedentary I can be when working on computers, so I really have to put the effort in!” Helena, Beingwell Head of Engagement
We don’t need to limit ourselves to specific apps. Our conscious use doesn’t have to be expert-led, using a specifically designed app. Listening to a podcast we find interesting or a playlist of songs we love can be just as conscious. Put a funky playlist on and have a dance to get moving or broaden the mind with a new podcast.
“Spotify gets me to go out and move, not being a huge fan of rigorous exercise, I can go for a walk and listen along. It helps me to enjoy the things I don’t enjoy so much!” James, our Sleep Expert
Even social media is great. We can connect with friends and family and catch up. We can have a nosy into our friends' lives, see what they're up to or even follow our favourite celebrities.
“I am a sucker for a social media scroll, however, I have started to avoid it first thing in the morning, and use downtime to prevent notifications interrupting my day – I don’t get many, I’m not super popular, I just get really sucked in sometimes. And I have two golden rules: 1. Remember social media is the highlight reel of people's lives. The people we look at online have miserable moments too but they’re not showing that. 2. Follow people and pages that are meaningful to you, and that brings some positivity to your scroll – essentially stop following those people who don’t make you feel good!” Grace, Beingwell Life Coach
Reality Reminder: it is not easy to just step away from how we use digital, especially if we are more reliant these days. However, if we can bring some awareness to our usage, we will feel the benefits creep up and our habits change. And remember, do what works for you!