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Digital Wellness in a Virtual World

A Baby's Wisdom

Has my phone become an extension of my arm? Though I live in the jungle, we have wifi. Ordinarily, I’m fairly mindful of regular technology detoxes, but with a surplus of time at home right now, my use of devices has been magnified. A Facetime chat leads to an Instagram post, followed by a zoom call for work, then a photo texted to a friend, and, why not post that on Facebook too? Repeat. It’s an addictive hamster wheel.

The other day I noticed my 6-month-old son Zephyr watching me: fascinated with the device that consumes so much of my attention. If baby Zephyr could talk, he would probably ask, “Why can’t we just watch the trees? They’re far more interesting than that unnatural thing you’re always staring at.”  

Right on little dude, I have much to learn from you! I reach for my phone to add a note about baby wisdom to my stickies app. No!!! I catch myself—again. Mama instinct is slowly kicking in; something is off and balance definitely needs to be restored.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for WIFI and my devices. Personally, they’re helping me stay connected with the people that I love during this unusual time. Professionally, technology has made all the difference in managing/marketing my jungle lodge, not to mention launching my new book, Wildpreneurs.

That said, my device usage and dependence are getting way out of control.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon the term “digital wellness” in a book called Breathe to Succeed, by Sandy Abrams. Synchronicity? Though our social calendars have cleared, our headspace is being filled with infinite virtual opportunities. This is a blessing and a real challenge. During this stay-at-home period of time, we’re all Wildpreneurs—we’re adapting to unknown territory and making decisions about how to manage our time personally and professionally. With this new “normal” how will we manage our relationships with our devices?

Baby Zephyr’s simple observation has inspired our family to make a few shifts at home. Do you feel like your brain is being invaded by chronic virtual stimulation? If so, here are Zephyr’s seven simple tips for digital wellness:

1. Have a destination but enjoy the journey. We’re all trying to survive through this unusual time, and devices can be a very effective way to pass the time and stay connected. But they’re also a numbing force that pulls us away from the “right here, right now.” Regardless of the challenge we’re all facing, let’s not forget to notice the simple pleasures and beauty of the world around us. Despite the circumstances, life is happening now—we don’t want to miss it.

2. Practice the “Tree & Breathe” visualization. Wherever you are, find a tree (your phone is not invited to join this activity). Look at the tree and imagine it exhaling as you inhale. Breathe deeply and intentionally. This is a powerful visualization exercise that offers instant revitalization. “Shallow breath leads to shallow results,” says author Sandy Abrams. The next time you’re looking at your device, notice your breath. Is it shallow? Half breaths quickly clog up the mind and body, triggering a spiral of negative side effects. When was the last time you took a really deep breath? There is much out of our control right now but we can control our breath. Zephyr says visit trees and practice this visualization often.

3. Take mini field trips without the phone. Go to the back yard, on a walk, or even just wander to another room in your house. Leave your phone behind. If you live in a small space you might have to get creative. How can you explore your home and find a new perspective? Can you imagine your home through baby Zephyr’s eyes?

4. Recharge your device, recharge yourself. When you plug in your phone for a charge, use this as a prompt to take a mindfulness pause. Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive, suggests treating our bodies as we do our cell phones. “We’re all exquisitely aware of the recharging routine of our phones…And yet, on the flip side, with our bodies and our minds and our souls, we’ll run them right into the ground until the shutdown.” How do you recharge? Why not try a project/activity that is non-technology based…maybe spring cleaning or yoga?

5. Pick up an old fashioned pen and paper. Devices typically offer convenience for on the go. No need for that while we’re stuck in the house, we have plenty of time to do things the old-fashioned way. Why not revert to via pen and paper? What about a wall calendar or agenda book? Dust off your old journal and dive in.

6. Create a technology-free zone in the house. Zephyr has designated a specific area of our living room as a technology-free zone. This is Zephyr’s main play area—no devices allowed, presence, and mindful playtime only.

7. Half day digital detox. We originally tried to put our devices aside for a whole day and found that to be a bit tricky. Half-day digital detoxes are perfect for us and we’re making them a priority. Baby Zephyr loves it!!!!

My computer battery is running low and Zephyr is just waking up from his nap. It’s time to shut down, plug in my device, roll out my yoga mat, and practice happy baby pose with Zephyr as we look up at the trees. We’re sending jungle health (mind and body) your way!

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