Last year, I watched The Social Dilemma, a documentary film that paints an alarming picture of how technology and social media shape our lives, on Netflix. The film features interviews with tech professionals including former Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest employees who discuss the risks technology and social media bring to our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, human rights, freedom, and democracy. Watch the trailer below.
Given the fact the film was released in the midst of a global pandemic, mass mobilizations for racial justice, a major U.S. presidential election, and a new socially distant school year, I think it is a MUST SEE! Why?
1) Because our society’s dependence on technology for connection, education, health and social services, consumer shopping, news, and entertainment has expanded tremendously.
2) Because the tech companies and social media platforms have a lot power, are not heavily regulated, and if left unchecked, can hurt our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, freedom, human rights, and democracy. Medical News Today addressed the following negative physical, emotional, and mental health effects of technology in a February 2020 article:
-Physical Health: eyestrain, poor posture (neck and back pain), poor brain development in children and teens, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle that reduces physical activity and contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a premature death; and
-Emotional and Mental Health: anxiety, depression, isolation, loss of focus, digital distraction, and tech overload
After watching the film, I took a hard look at my digital life and habits and decided to recommit to my own digital wellness. I recommend you watch the film on Netflix this weekend or later this month. May it inspire you to use digital wellness practices to transform how you use technology and social media this year.
Need more help with digital wellness?
Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy here for digital wellness resources.
Need coaching or training support for yourself and/or company or organization? Head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve struggled with tech-life balance. That means I was overusing technology … spending way too much time online looking at my smartphone, tablet, and laptop screens. My eyes, ears, and mind consumed an incredible amount of information and news. It all overwhelmed me. It cost me sleep. It disturbed my normal zen attitude.
In May, I realized I needed to transform my relationship with social media and technology. So I took a summer vacation from social media. When I returned in September, I decided I needed digital wellness support for my own well-being. I also wanted to get more digital wellness training to strengthen the mindful technology work I do through the Thriving Mindfully Academy.
I found support and training in the Digital Wellness Collective‘s Digital Wellness Institute (DWI) Fall 2020 Certificate Training Program. It was exactly what I needed! Today, I completed the program and have become a certified digital wellness educator. Learn more about the program here.
Special thanks to the Nina Hersher, Amy Blankson, Shaunelle Curry, the DWI faculty, DWC team, and my fellow DWI Fall 2020 classmates!
Digital Wellness Month is a new initiative that was created in response to the time most of us are currently spending on technology to communicate in our lives, careers, and businesses during COVID-19 (known to some of us as the new normal, #QuarantineLife, lockdown, or my personal favorite – Q-Life).
The purpose of Digital Wellness Month is to encourage and help people to practice tech life balance with small steps.
During each week in May, tips and resources will be shared to help you create tech life balance in your life, career, and business on my blog and social media. Follow Ananda Leeke on Facebook and LinkedIn. Check out @anandaleeke on Instagram and Twitter.
Go here to listen to the Thriving Mindfully Podcast to learn more about Digital Wellness Month and my digital wellness journey that included my struggles with spending way too much time online and burnout.
What Is Digital Wellness?
Digital Wellness is the use of technology in mindful, intentional, and healthy ways.
Go here to listen to Thriving Mindfully Podcast about digital wellness.
Becoming Mindful About Your Tech Use
Get your favorite pen, journal, or a piece of paper. Take a few minutes to answer each of the questions below. They will help you become aware of how you currently use technology. Your responses will help you identify what needs to be included in your Digital Wellness Intention.
How much time do you currently spend online Monday through Friday and on the weekends?
Do you take breaks from using technology?
What stresses you out when you are online?
Does your body experience tension, tightness, or discomfort while you are online?
How do you take care of your body while you are online (the way you sit or stand, screens that protect your eyes, etc.)?
Do you sleep with your digital devices on or near your bed?
Being Intentional About Your Tech Use
Digital Wellness becomes a reality in your life, career, and business when you take time to slow down and to create a Digital Wellness Intention, a statement about the way you want to use technology. Use my Digital Wellness Intention as a sample (see below).
Sample Digital Wellness Intention
I am mindful and intentional about the ways I use technology. I honor my spirit, heart, mind, and body with mindful self-care practices including breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and mindful movement while I am online and offline. I take breaks, use time boundaries. and unplug to manage my tech consumption. I place my digital devices in my living room or kitchen at the end of the day. The end result is a healthier me.
Digital Wellness Plan
A digital wellness plan is a gift you give yourself to help manage your time online with mindful self-care practices. Mindful self-care practices encourage you to slow down, become aware of how you spend your time online, and identify and take small steps towards having a healthier digital life. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, massage, meditation, physical movement (walking, running, yoga, and aerobic classes), rest (naps and a good night’s sleep), setting time boundaries, unplugging, and more.
Tech Life Balance Tips
Make Your Breath Your BFF: Before you get out of bed, incorporate breathing exercises into your morning routine by taking 7 deep breaths. Place your hand on your heart as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Do the same thing before you go to bed.
Mindful Moment: Take 1 deep breath before turning on your digital devices, answering your phone or responding to an email or text.
Mindful Movement Break: While you’re working during the day, step away from your digital devices and take a 3-5 minute break to breathe deeply move your body.
A Few More Things!
Remember to be patient with yourself as you make changes in your life, career, and business.
Take small steps. Make them baby steps.
Celebrate your victories no matter how small, medium or big they are.
Go here to get the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s resources on mindfulness, self-care, and wellness.
For me, Spring is about fresh starts, new beginnings, new ideas, and new possibilities. It is a time of rebirth and renewal.
I welcome Spring into my life as my second new year. I use the Spring Equinox to slow down, become still, breathe, and check in with myself while I practice mindful self-care. My Spring check-in gives me time and space to review what’s been happening during the first quarter of the year. During this time, I recommit to myself by setting intentions and planting seeds for the second, third, and fourth quarters of the year.
This year, my Spring season looks and feels different due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead of taking a mini Spring break, I find myself spending most of my days at home with limited physical interaction with others (social distancing is the new phrase). I also find myself spending more and more time online connecting with family and friends, using yoga and barre videos to workout, listening to music and podcasts, operating my business, working with and communicating with clients, and watching TV shows, movies, and videos.
Now that we are in the midst of COVID-19, what does your digital life look and feel like?
How much time are you and your loved ones spending online?
Do you feel overwhelmed by technology?
How are you taking care of yourself while you are working and communicating online?
Need mindful technology tips and resources including tips on how to create digital a wellness plan, set time boundaries on email and texting, unplug daily or weekly from your digital devices, and/or start a digital detox?
Check out the Thriving Mindfully Digital Wellness resources below.
My Mindful Technology Journey & Burnout
Learning how to use technology mindfully started when I began my career in digital communications as a knowledge manager for Hamilton Securities Group, Inc. in 1996. My struggles with overdosing on technology increased dramatically when I started using social media, a smartphone, a tablet, and a lap top in my home life, digital communications career in the nonprofit sector, and wellness company. I didn’t have a healthy plan for communicating with family and friends; working with clients; managing my websites and social media; creating and curating blog and video content; hosting and producing podcasts; leading and participating in online communities; listening to music and podcasts; and watching TV shows, movies, and videos.
When I experienced burnout and enlisted the support of my life coach, Yael Flusberg, I started to make changes in the way I use technology. The lessons I learned and the mindful tech self-care practices I discovered laid the foundation for the Thriving Mindfully Podcast’s Mindful Technology playlist below. Check out each episode and see what tips and resources work best for you. Use what you find to create your own digital wellness plan.
Resources for You: Mindful Technology Playlist
The Mindful Technology playlist includes nine podcast episodes that offer meditations and mindful tips on how to create a digital wellness plan, practice self-care with a digital detox and unplugging, and have a healthy relationship with email, social media, and technology. Click on the links below.
Have you thought about how you want to live your life in 2020 and beyond?
Do you need support in planning out your year?
Looking for accountability?
I’d love to work with you! I love coaching and supporting people just like you who are committed to exploring mindfulness, meditation, and mindful self-care in their lives, careers, and business. My coaching areas include:
Mindful at Work
Interested in exploring how we might work together to manifest your heart’s desires for your life, career, and/or business this year?
National Day of Unplugging is almost here. It’s a golden opportunity to take a 24-hour break from your digital devices and reconnect to your life and loved ones in real time. What I just wrote may scare you, but if you answer YES to one or more of the questions below, I invite you to join me in UNPLUGGING for 24 hours on National Day of Unplugging. It starts at sundown on Friday, March 9, and ends at sundown on Saturday, March 10.
To get you ready for your 24-hour digital break, I have included six tips for creating mini unplug moments below.
When you wake up in the morning, don’t check your smartphone for texts, email, or social media updates. Instead start your day with a breathing exercise. Place your hand on your heart as you inhale and exhale through your nose seven times.
UNPLUG and eat your breakfast, lunch, or dinner without looking at your digital devices.
While you’re working during the day, UNPLUG from your digital devices and take a one-minute break by inhaling and exhaling through your nose three times.
During your morning and evening commutes, UNPLUG from your digital devices and take FIVE deep breaths (inhale and exhale through your nose) before you turn your car or motorcycle/scooter, start to bike, or when you sit down on public transportation.
Spend one UNPLUGGED evening without your digital devices. That means when you get home, you turn everything off or place the sound on mute until the next day.
UNPLUG before you go to sleep by placing your digital devices on mute in another room.
Listen to my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast playlist featuring nine podcast episodes that offer meditations and mindful tips on how to create a digital wellness plan, practice self-care with a digital detox and unplugging, and have a healthy relationship with email, social media, and technology.
Click here to learn more about my mindful technology offerings.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can work with me as a speaker for your next event, a trainer for your organization, a coach (one-on-one or group sessions) or a commentator for your radio show, podcast, blog, and article.
I look forward to hearing from you!
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Today, I’m leading a session on “Embracing Your Digital Citizenship” at the Blogger Week Unconference organized by Black Bloggers Connect. My session will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Impact Hub, 419 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC (in Chinatown by the Gallery Place Metro Station).
During my one-hour session, you will receive tips on ways to define and express your digital citizenship. You will also participate in a group discussion that documents digital citizenship best practices and provides feedback on White House Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Jason Goldman’s #socialcivics. Here are several resources to read before the session.
Just in case you are unable to attend my session, I have included a summary of my talking points below. May they encourage and inspire you to define, embrace, and demonstrate your digital citizenship as well as engage with your local and national communities and governments, the White House, and CDO Jason Goldman (@Goldman44 – tweet Jason about your #socialcivics ideas — he’s listening!).
DIGITAL WELLNESS MOMENT
The yoga teacher in me cannot resist sharing a digital wellness moment at the beginning of my talks and workshop sessions. Here’s a taste of what I will share today.
The digital wellness exercise will focus on deep breathing. When you breathe intentionally and deeply, you invite yourself into the present moment. The more you breathe intentionally and deeply, the more open you become to PEACE. When you have PEACE, you are free to IMAGINE. Your imagination helps you DREAM. Your dreams help you CREATE and INSPIRE others in your blog and life.
Find a comfortable seated position in your chair. Come to the edge of your chair and place your feet flat on the floor. If you are wearing glasses or shoes, take them off to relax. Create hip width distance in between your legs. Take a deep breath through your nose and exhale it through your mouth. Notice how you feel. Now do it SEVEN more times. As you exhale, release or pause any thoughts or to do lists you carried with you into this moment. To learn more about creating a digital wellness plan, click here for tips.
MY DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP STORY
In 2013, I penned Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online, a book that discusses how the Internet influenced my career, community service efforts, creativity, and work as the founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network. During my book tour, I gave a talk about the importance of digital citizenship at Spelman College’s Women Interactive conference that encouraged people to explore how they could marry their passionate interests with their digital presence to inform and inspire others to support causes and programs in their local and national communities.
Following my own counsel, I decided to apply to participate in the White House Social events to demonstrate my support of President Barack Obama’s policies and programs in 2014. The White House selected me to serve as a social media leader for the State of the Union, French Arrival Ceremony for French President Francois Hollande, and Tumblr Q&A session on education and college affordability. The U.S. Department of State invited me to serve in a similar capacity during the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony.
These experiences inspired me to launch the Digital Citizenship Project (DCP), an online initiative that encourages individuals to marry their passionate interests and digital presence to support campaigns, causes, events, ideas, movements, policies, programs, and values that build awareness and community, create positive change, and promote social good. Last July, I established Digital Citizenship Month.
DEFINING DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
How do you define Digital Citizenship?
Here’s my definition: marrying your passionate interests and digital presence to support campaigns, causes, events, ideas, movements, policies, programs, and values that build awareness and community, create positive change, and promote social good.
10 TIPS ON EMBRACING YOUR DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP
1) Identify your passion and interests.
2) Find causes and campaigns that connect you to your passion and interests.
I am passionate about inspiring creative expression and healthy living. My passion motivates me to use my digital citizenship to support causes, campaigns, events, businesses, organizations, policies, and programs that celebrate and promote the arts, communities of color, creativity, digital communications, education, fitness, President and First Lady Obama, White House, Reiki healing touch, social good, social justice, Washington, DC, women and girls, world travel, social media, technology, and yoga.
3) Launch and support causes and campaigns that improve the quality of life for people in your local, regional, national, and international communities.
Here are several examples.
#BlackLivesMatter was launched in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murder and is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates American society.
Mario Armstrong’s #More4Bmore campaign was launched this week in response to the social unrest that occurred after the recent police brutality incidents in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Armstrong’s campaign is using social media to recruit creatives, doers, problem solvers, writers, leaders AND ANYONE wanting to be a part of creative solutions in Baltimore.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser established the #IWishUKnew campaign on May 1 to foster a robust conversation with DC residents on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Mayor Bowser and her administration are using this social media campaign to encourage DC residents to answer the question: What is it that you want people to know about you that they don’t know? Examples include: I wish you knew that my parents are worried that they will lose our house; I wish you knew that I am nervous that I won’t be able to find a job; and I wish you knew that I am scared when I wait for the bus at night. I really like what the Mayor stated in her May 1st newsletter, “Engagement is the first step towards empowerment and that’s why your voice is so important. I want you to know that I am listening, we are listening, and we want you to share what we all need to know.”
4) Participate in local government events and document your participation on your blog and social media.
In January, I used my digital presence to document the Inauguration of DC Mayor Bowser. I also documented the February open house event hosted by the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs,
I have built community among women in social media and technology through the Digital Sisterhood Network, Digital Sisterhood Month (December), and My #DigitalSisterhood Community Is.
6) Inspire and encourage.
Use your blog, social media, and web site to share empowering and inspirational messages. Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network does a great job of sharing messages.
7) Educate and share information.
I use my passion for yoga and training as a yoga teacher to share health-related information.
8) Blog and post positive social media status updates about local businesses you patronize in your local community.
9) Celebrate local, state, national, and international holidays and observances to raise awareness about issues you care about.
I celebrate many women-centered holidays and observances online.
10) Engage in #socialcivics with the White House and Federal Government.
The White House sponsors #WHSocials, #WHMeetups, and online events each year to engage American citizens. Visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/social to learn more about the in-person events. Subscribe to the White House blog to stay informed about online events.
This week, I am hosting a Community Conversation on Blogging Burnout for the Press Publish Conference and Community. It is giving me an opportunity to meet, greet, and interact with people who are attending the Press Publish Conference I’m speaking at on March 28 in Portland, Oregon. Check out the conversation below.
My first tango with blogging burnout happened shortly after I published my first novel. I had spent many months pushing myself to use my blog to market my book. My “joie de vivre” for blogging about my journey as an artist and author died a little more each week I chose to turn up the volume on my marketing efforts. I became a marketing machine on steroids. I wasn’t having fun. My stories about my creative journey were missing in action. It took several conversations with people close to me to realize I needed to step back from the blog, rest, and regroup. When I finally made that decision, it was the best thing I could have done because it created space for me to take a mini break. That space allowed me to rest and rediscover my “joie de vivre” for blogging.
This month, I am infusing Digital Wellness moments into my yoga practice. Just in case you wanted you know, I define Digital Wellness as “a gift you give yourself to help manage your time online with mindful self-care practices. Mindful self-care practices encourage you to slow down, become aware of how you spend your time online, and identify and take small steps towards having a healthier digital life. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, massage, meditation, physical movement (walking, running, yoga, and aerobic classes), rest (naps and a good night’s sleep), setting time boundaries, and using time management tools (HootSuite, TweetDeck, and an editorial calendar) to schedule your blog and social media posts” (excerpt from my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online). Click here for tips on creating a Digital Wellness plan.
Sandy Blaine’s Yoga for Computer Users is a guiding force in my daily yoga practice. Blaine’s book offers illustrated yoga poses and breathing and relaxation techniques that can help you take better care of your neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands. The beautiful thing about the poses and breathing and relaxation techniques is that they can be done at home or in the office. I love the book because it gives you lifestyle suggestions and mindfulness practices that encourage you to unplug from your digital life, make more time for joy in your daily schedule, learn to alternate your mouse hand, and more!
Are you using any yoga poses to take care of yourself while you are online?
Have you created a Digital Wellness plan? What does it include?
Visit Amazon.com to learn more about Digital Sisterhood. It is available for purchase on Kindle and as a paperback and hardback book.