19 Mar Protecting our Digital Wellbeing as we Re-emerge from Lockdown
We have been in lockdown for over a year. Let that sink in.
After months of talking about the ‘new normal’ we have all gotten used to it, settled into new routines, and developed new (hopefully healthier) relationships with our screens. It is no wonder that many of us are nervous of what will happen once the world reopens again, not only in terms of COVID-19, with over 70% of Americans worried about reopening their states, but also our day-to-day lives.
Over the last few months we have written myriad articles about working from home, homeschooling, how to manage your digital wellbeing in a pandemic and more. Hopefully, those articles are about to be out of date as we move back to normal, and re-emerge from our cocoons.
How are we going to protect the digital wellbeing that we have cultivated over this lockdown? We won’t be entirely in control of our environment any more as we work and learn away from home. So, we have put together some tips to help you readjust as you re-emerge this spring.
# Block out a routine
Our first tip is to make it easy for yourself and block out a routine. As restrictions ease our calendars will fill up once again and suddenly the strict regimen that we have followed throughout lockdown of no screen time after 7pm doesn’t work if we need a cab home from the pub. Our advice is to find a new routine, use the building blocks that you found most useful this year and adapt them to a more open life.
# Focus on in-person interaction
Zoom fatigue was only recently confirmed as a credible problem yet we have all been suffering with it for the last 12 months. We know how exhausting staring at someone on screen can be, so take advantage once that is no longer compulsory. Take a wander around your office to catch up instead of sending emails, or perhaps you could make the effort to drive further to see friends once we can- it will do you wonders.
# Put up more barriers
Our next tip may sound counter-intuitive: we want you to make your life harder. We want you to put up more barriers to the reflexive actions we all take every day. How often do you pick up your phone and find yourself opening apps without even making a conscious decision? Well, one of the ways to stop this is to put up barriers: move your apps around your home screen so you have to look for them, turn off notifications and disable all of the shortcuts on your phone, such as logging out of accounts each time you exist the app.
# Go outside
Another tip to help you protect your digital wellbeing as we re-emerge is to spend more time outside. As restrictions ease and the weather improves we will be able to spend more time outside both locally and further afield. We recommend you make the most of this time: even 20 minutes of time outside a day had been linked to significant mental health benefits. On top of that making the time to go outside each day may even help you find a form of routine.
# Model your behviour
This is one of our favourite cheat codes for good digital wellbeing. We know how hard it is to change or even maintain your digital habits. So, our best advice is to copy someone whose digital habits you admire. You can pick and choose: perhaps how your partner manages emails, and your closest friend handles their Facebook. Once you’ve picked someone to imitate you can ask them how they manage various aspects of their digital world, ask them to write you instructions and then follow that until you find a more intuitive routine.
# Cut yourself some slack
Our final piece of advice is perhaps the most important, and that is to cut yourself some slack. We have been living in lockdown, under the strangest of circumstances, for over a year. So, as you try to find your new balance in digital wellbeing post-pandemic remember that we are not living in normal times – it will take a while to get back to normal.