- Pamela Newman, LCSW-C
Take Action In April
Now, more than ever, our physical lives are entangled in our virtual lives. In the last year, most of us have seen more people over a screen than in person. When I made the transition to telework, it was initially quite jarring; while I had previously taken some online courses and done some remote work, it wasn’t something that I felt entirely comfortable with. But, I allowed the growing pains to happen, with as little resistance as possible and here we are, a year later and most of us are comfortable and have adjusted to this new digital social life. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for our advanced technological systems in place as they have allowed us to continue to live our lives as close to “normal” as possible.
But the “Zoom fatigue” still comes and it can linger. Our boundaries between digital lives and personal lives become more and more blurred. Outside of work responsibilities, the temptations to constantly check email, social media, texts, calls, miscellaneous apps (some of which promote productivity, others … not so much) are always present. I don’t think I’m alone here. How can we all fight the fatigue? How can we detox from our digital lives?
Thankfully, spring is here. March and April in the DMV always throw us some teaser days; inconsistent warm weather and sunshine is spotty at best. We should seize the opportunity and maximize these days, however few and far between they may be. Try getting outside as much as possible. Are there any activities that you can engage in outdoors, in the spring weather? Walking, jogging, biking, hiking or even just sitting outside and reading. Try making a list and put it some place you know you will see it as a reminder to step away from your screens. Take a moment to pause and consider the difference in how you feel when you go outside. Try writing a sentence or even just a few key words related to the experience. Share those experiences with a close friend or family member; either through your device or, if possible, literally make plans to (safely) share that experience in-person.
Now maybe you’re thinking to yourself — it’s not me who has any issue with my devices. I don’t need a detox thank you very much. Okay, fair enough; but are there any individuals in your household who could benefit from time away from their virtual lives? What about your kids? Kids today are pretty attached to their social media presence, their TikTok and Instagram and Snapchat etc. Sometimes we might know this but are unsure of what to do about it.
Try sitting down with your kids and creating some rules. Ask them to consider what is reasonable and work to find ways together to enforce house those rules. Maybe everyone in the house can create a log of time they’re currently spending on their phones. Can we negotiate that time down to something more reasonable? You might find that they want you to spend more time away from devices as well. If you frame the detox as something that you’re all going to strive to accomplish as a family, your kids will likely feel less targeted and more willing to participate. It could be something as simple as taking an hour on a weekend for everyone to turn off devices, or making sure all screens are off during mealtimes.
The digital overload is something we’re all facing; something that we’re all (hopefully) trying to bring awareness to so that we can modify. As we get deeper into spring, let’s come together to bring more balance into our lives!
The end of the pandemic is in sight; no one knows for certain what the new “normal” could look like. It’s important that we continue accepting and adjusting. Let’s be patient with ourselves, and practice that patience with our kids and loved ones. Times are tough, that’s an understatement. But by making that conscious effort to put down our devices, we can potentially create more positive emotions. There’s no one right way to go about creating more balance when it comes to our digital lives. But, hopefully after reading this you have a few other ideas on things that you can implement into your day-to-day! Spread your ideas to your loved ones, create a plan and experiment with what works. We’re all in this together.