Some alarming information, according to an article University of Washington Student Life posted in February 2022, “Digital Wellness 101: Taking Control of Your Life Online” ¹ :
- An increasing amount of Facebook use among first-year college students has been associated with higher levels of loneliness.
- With 90% of college-aged students comparing themselves with peers within 15 minutes of waking up, social media sites set many people up for negative self-perception before they get out of bed.
- In a survey of 1,500 young adults on the impact of social media on issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image, YouTube was found to have the most positive impact, while Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter all demonstrated negative effects overall on young people’s mental health.
If this is what our college students are facing, it’s perfectly logical to expect the young leaders in our workforce are facing even greater challenges.
It is timely, then, for us to address the concept of “digital wellness.”
According to most common definitions of the term, digital wellness is the “intentional state of physical, mental, and social health that occurs with mindful engagement with the digital and natural environment.”
How do we achieve that balance in the face of our constant bombardment from the digital world? Some recent studies show that the average American adult worker checks his or her phone over 150 times per day!
The answer lies in effective leadership, where we model the behaviors of mindful engagement in our day-to-day work. These behaviors include:
- Establish schedule and meeting discipline. Schedule a daily audit every day – to audit yourself on your mindful engagement. Find a quiet, distraction–free place to do this. Put it on your calendar. Don’t allow cell phones in meetings so people can focus on the agenda.
- Celebrate physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Encourage team members to have fun without electronics, exercise, take part in community activities, and share their stories with each other. Promote positivity.
- Look for warning signs when someone is out of balance. Fatigue, anger, absenteeism, sloppiness, apathy – these are all signs that something else is wrong. Think of it this way: we essentially have four kinds of energy inside us. Those energies are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All four energies need to be charged or maintained, almost like a set of internal batteries. If they aren’t maintained at a sufficient charge, you’ll see indications pretty quickly. When a team member changes their mood or appearance, check in with them. Don’t wait until they leave to wonder what happened. Use the “battle buddy” concept: peers who have a check-in system with each other. It can foster a greater sense of connection, and act as a sort of ‘early warning alert’ about any team member who may be having issues.
- Rotate responsibilities for leadership of meetings and gatherings to promote personal interaction. People respond differently when they are in charge. Give them feedback on how they did when assigned lead for a project or group task. Ask them for their takeaways, either in person or via video chat.
With more personal communication, we encourage our teammates to do the same.
That means less time for emails and texts — and more time for live interaction instead. We’ll all be healthier when we promote digital wellness, every day. Enjoy the journey!
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