29 July 2021
Struggling to stay afloat as you continue to WFH (Work From Home)? You aren’t alone. Studies have shown that regular WFH without adequate safeguards can have negative impacts on your physical, mental and emotional health.
Some symptoms to be wary of include chronic stress, depression, and fatigue, which if left unattended, can take a toll on your overall wellbeing, as well as strain your relationships.
It’s no secret that anxiety and stress levels have risen exponentially with Covid-19. Concerns range from physical health and safety, uncertainty about seeing our loved ones again, loneliness and isolation, anxiety about jobs, relationship adjustments, to name only a few. What hasn’t always been so clear is the role of digital technologies in compounding this stress and anxiety.
In fact, the improper use of digital devices pose great dangers to our wellbeing – physical, mental, and emotional. Many of these are dangers are hidden or occur over a period of time, so that we don’t often immediately recognise their impacts on us.
For example, when the deadly second Covid wave hit India in April/May, I kept abreast of the situation, following news stories as they broke and fearing for the safety of my loved ones. However, very soon the frequency of devastating images and statistics began to take a toll, making me anxious and nervous. As I sat down to reflect on why I was feeling this way, despite my daily mediation and periods of mindfulness, I soon identified the culprit as social media and breaking news notifications. I turned off the notifications, checked the news just twice a day, and veered away from social media-based updates and comments in favour of commentaries, and soon enough, my peace of mind returned.
I was able to keep updated without the resultant impacts on my mental and emotional health. Similarly, there are innumerable ways in which small tweaks to the way we use digital technologies and consume new media information can improve our overall wellbeing.
This is central to cyber-wellbeing or cyber-wellness, which very simply, refers to the focus on health, happiness, prosperity and fulfilment as you use the internet.
It’s important to know where the dangers lie in cyberspace, so that we can proactively work to improve wellbeing – both personal and in the workplace.
So, what are some of these dangers?
Undoubtedly, new technologies have played a critical role in helping us stay connected to work, school, family and friends amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this constant connection can be a source of anxiety and stress: whether it is job connectedness due to mobile phones; or the sound of work notifications that follow you after work hours; or wondering how to keep kids productively occupied and safe online as you shut your (bed)room door and get to work.
Then there is the issue of Zoom or virtual fatigue that results from the improper and overuse of virtual communication platforms, particularly videoconferencing. In extreme cases, this can cause burnout, due to the taxing effects of this method of communication on our brains, eyes, and posture.
Research shows that when organisations that have put in place measures to reduce WFH strains and provide clear guidelines on digital connectedness, employees have experienced higher levels of wellbeing.
In this way, it becomes clear that Cyber-Wellness is a critical aspect of both Personal and Workplace Wellness.
While lockdowns and circuit breakers won’t last forever, WFH or at least some form of flexible/remote working will continue into the foreseeable future. Companies must ensure that wellbeing is a priority, and that cyber-wellness awareness and activities are included as part of workplace wellbeing initiatives.
While this happens, there are things that individuals can do on their own to improve their wellbeing with continued WFH arrangements.
I have listed some steps below to help you move ahead in your cyber-wellness journey:
- Start by identifying the dangers to your wellbeing as you WFH
- Physical strains you face – e.g. eye strain
- Mental strains you face – e.g. anxiety from balancing work and family duties simultaneously
- Emotional strains you face – e.g. relationship conflicts
- Acknowledge the ways in which these strains impact you and make you feel
- E.g. tired, neck and shoulder aches
- E.g. frustrated, depressed
- List down some ways in which you can reduce or remove these strains
- Take mini-breaks during the day or in between calls
- Avoid the urge to check devices during bedtime
- Turn off work email or app notifications after work hours
- Incorporate these changes consistently, and observe how you feel. See what works and what doesn’t. Check in with yourself regularly to see how digital devices and the internet are impacting your wellbeing.
Have a comment or want to know more about our Cyber-Wellness Awareness Services? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org