In the theme of Self Care Sundays - we have compiled some tips of some Digital Self Care for you.
Whether it's the constant pinging of notifications on your phone, the incessant bad news on your newsfeed or the relentless email inbox(s!), it can be hard to feel like you are on top of things, when it feels like you are constantly in catch-up mode.
CHANGE THE CONVERSATION
The first step, says neuroscientist and author of "The Women's Brain Book", Dr. Sarah McKay, is to stop "demonising" technology. She believes technology can be very positive in ways it can connect people, allow us to work efficiently (hello computers like Tony Hawk uses in Iron Man - when can we get one of those?!) and can even have a positive effect on our mental health.
However, if your use of tech is stopping you from having calm in your life and preventing you from the stress-busting activities we should be doing to counterbalance our tech-filled lives, then its time to help your brain cope.
Meditation or Minecraft? New research from Bath has shown that digital games, typical of those on smartphones, may relieve stress more effectively than mindfulness apps.
Lead author Dr Emily Collins, of the University of Bath, said: “To protect our long-term health and well-being, we need to be able to unwind and recuperate after work. Our study suggests playing digital games can be an effective way to do this.”
HAVE A DIGITAL SUNSET
A notion that is gaining traction, ironically on the internet, is the digital sunset challenge, where all tech is turned off from 7pm-7am. As difficult and as alien as this might sound, McKay believes it could make a huge difference to our brain and mental health.
"When we talk of screen time at night, I don't think we should reduce it, I think we should get rid of it altogether." she explains.
Venetia Falconer from the UK and contributor at Eco Age, has started a weekly digital detox trend coined the "48 hour Challenge" @48hourchallenge . Here she inspires her followers to join her in switching off their phones (and other tech?) Saturdays and Sundays and then share their experiences.
AVOID TASK SWITCHING
Interestingly, McKay also singles our mutl-tasking, which is almost a badge of honour for most women (this writer included!), is not a skill to be proud of. By task-switching - we may not be as efficient as we think. "Our brains simply cannot multi-task: you've got one beam of light and you can only focus it in one direction".
Pings of texts, emails or notifications are little micro-interruptions - and even if only for a nano second - they are still not beneficial. If you are constantly interrupted from a task by answering a call or text, or checking an email, your overall performance decreases and your stress levels rise. "Bottom line? Mindfully focus on one task at a time."
GET GREEN TIME
Swapping screen time for green time is a motto McKay says we should all live by. And comes back to the ethos of Venetia Falconer. We are, essentially, animals, which is something we tend to forget from time to time.
Sitting at a desk looking at a computer isn't "natural" I think we can all agree. Even if we start by taking a walk at lunch to get moving or go and sit in a nearby park or by water if possible.
RESPECT THE LIGHT CYCLE
Following on from the digital sunset, McKay believes we regularly forget the connection between our brains and the light/dark cycle. "[By being on our screens at night] we're becoming dark deprived at night. We are spending all day sitting in front of a computer, in artificial lighting - under consuming the natural sunlight."
Darkness is a fundamental signal for us to sleep and restore. Sleep is the best weapon against... well, pretty much everything.
The Brain Health Challenge.
Give your brain a little love this month.
1. During the week, start your bedtime earlier and about 2 hours prior begin to dim the lights in your home (and turn off devices that are still on). Set your alarm a little earlier - especially during summer. and get up for an early morning walk in the sunshine to wake you up.
2. Instead of going fully tech-free, ease yourself into it by taking the digital sunset challenge over a week, reducing one screen each day. Starting with your phone, then your ipad or kindle, then your laptop and then the TV.
3. It sounds minimal but charge your phone in a separate room. It's a small habit that can really make a difference.
4. Turn off all notifications on emails, phone and watch for ONE day. This could be easier at the weekend. Ideally turn your phone on silent mode and give yourself 3 10 minute intervals where you can go in and check your notifications during the day.
5. Whilst getting out in nature might be trickier in the week - hello day job! But why not organise a weekend escape to somewhere you can be surrounded by nature - add some hiking or swimming to the mix and make sure you're surrounded by friends and/or family.
Do you watch TV?
Have you ever done a Digital Detox - would you recommend and what were the key benefits?
Words inspired by marieclaire.com.au