By Shaida Hossein, Behavioral Health Education & Training Manager, and Lena Neufeld, PSY.D., Teen & Young Adult Therapist.
In a recent blog post, JFS counselors Lena Neufeld and Liz Coleclough explored how we can all create and refine our sense of purpose during the challenges of quarantine—turning to renowned psychiatrist, neurologist, and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl for direction. In his work, Frankl identified four main goals to strive towards to derive meaning in life:
- Authentically interact with others.
- Engage in creativity and self-expression.
- Commune in nature.
- Recognize we have choice in how we perceive our circumstances and find empowerment within this choice.
Today, we will explore how to engage with these four goals through the lens of digital wellness.
Whether we like it or not, this pandemic has forced all of us to rely on and utilize technology in ways we never imagined. Suddenly, our phones, tablets and computers have become our sole vehicles for social connection; our means to education and employment; our doorway to museums and libraries and our windows for bearing witness to the world beyond our homes.
This “digital dependency” is cause for us to experience both hesitation and curiosity. Each of us has a unique attachment to our devices, and this is usually linked to our ages and generation. For many parents, navigating their child’s use of technology was already a fraught battleground pre-COVID. Weren’t we already trying to get our children off their phones and into the world? However, our ability as parents to strive for open-mindedness and emotional and intellectual flexibility, is more important than ever before. If our devices are now the primary doorways to the world beyond our pandemic pods, we must let our children continue on their developmental pathways—to explore, experiment and individuate—in ways that embrace technology. The days of rationing “screen time” as a behavioral intervention for kids and teenagers have passed. In its place is the burgeoning concept of “digital wellness”.
How do we balance the use of technology while still striving for wellness? How do we use our technology in ways that support our mental and emotional health? And in time, is it possible to find true enrichment through our digital experiences and even come to view them as opportunities?
In the past, we may have viewed screen time through a dichotomous lens—something to be doled out in small doses—but what if we moved away from this perspective and instead opened ourselves up to the value of digital tools when approached with intention, curiosity and mindfulness?
When embarking on new experiences and opportunities as a family, it’s important to remember that each person’s voice, perspective and experience should be heard and valued. Of course, change is hard and takes time. A quote we love says, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” Therefore, when all family members participate in open-ended conversations, sustainable and meaningful change is possible.
As we all pivot towards striving for digital wellness, it’s important to engage in conversations around what wellness means to you, what is currently working to improve your wellness, and what things could change or be enhanced by integrating digital options.
Below is a resource guide that groups technology through the framework of Frankl’s goals for finding meaning in the face of adversity. As with all wellness pursuits, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Digital wellness will look different for each person, for each parent and for each child. Try out different styles, play around with new tools and see what feels right to you. Enjoy!
Digital Wellness Resource Guide
Authentically interact with others
- Play charades via Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype
- Host an online scavenger hunt via Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout. Give everyone a fun list of items to find in their house and “show off” what they find when time is up
- Play Pictionary via Zoom using the screenshot feature
- Make crafts “together” via Zoom, Facetime Group, or Google Hangouts
- Use Postsnap to create a postcard out of a photo and send it to loved ones
- Play virtual board games
- Host a Netflix Watch Party
- Use the #selfcare app for a little joy and self-connection
Engage in creativity and self-expression
- Tune in to a wide variety of live, virtual concerts
- Listen to music, learn visual art skills and techniques, enjoy poetry, relax with mindful movement and more through AIM to Connect:
- Take in a live, classical performance via The Live Music Project
- Whip up a delicious meal with free, Virtual Cooking Classes
Commune in nature
- Follow park rangers through many of North America’s National Parks National Parks Service
- Roam Nevada from Home from parks to ghost towns of Nevada
- Wander around Hestercombe Gardens, an enchanting English garden
- Dive into national marine sanctuaries
- Get lost in a kelp forest or become one with the jellyfish via the Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams
- Identify plants and animals using the Seek app by iNaturalist
- Check out the best animal livestreams from sanctuaries, the wild and more
Recognize we have choice in how we perceive our circumstances, and find empowerment within this choice (steps towards self-improvement so we don’t remain stuck)
- Yoga with Adriene
- Down Dog Yoga Online Yoga Classes (during COVID-19 pandemic, join for free live-streamed yoga every Sunday 6-7:15 p.m. EST)
- GatorCare: Streamed fitness recordings for strength workouts and yoga flows
- Fitness Blender: Workout videos for every fitness level; absolutely free
- Brief Guided Relaxation/Meditation
- Two-minute COVID-19 “Resilience Reset”
- Shambhala Seattle offers open, free meditation via Zoom on Thursday nights
- Daily Online Meditation Sit from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality
- Online Jewish Yoga Studio from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality
- Fabulous App helps users to reset their habits
- HabitBull App: Once you are able to clearly see the patterns in your life, it will be easier to address them head-on. With inspiring quotes, progress updates, reminder notifications and easy-to see streaks, the app holds you accountable.
- Streaks App is a habit-promoting, goal-tracking app that challenges users to achieve a streak of daily actions by tracking the number of consecutive days
- Duolingo app allows users to learn a new language
If you need mental health support right now, please contact email@example.com or (206)-861-3152. JFS is here to help, and we offer our services on a sliding scale. We also accept insurance. You can also visit our Counseling & Addiction Services webpage here for more information, as well as our Project DVORA (domestic violence services) page here.