By and large, our lived experience is now taking place with a screen before us. Being a part of a global society bound by likewise tribulations and technologies, we are now tying knots, celebrating birthdays, and conducting business with the help of our smartphone that never seems to leave our peripheral. Clearly, this is not mundane, and the probable long-term effects of our digitally globalized planet are yet to be completely witnessed. There was a time when people would have a clear demarcation between work life and home life. However, these days every day can turn into a workday if we allow it, on account of the nature of remote work. We can see ourselves working past lunch, dinner, and even during the silent hours of the night.
Even after wearing the most comfortable (and professionally accepted) outfit in the comfort of our living space, the end of a workday can leave us feeling physically and mentally exhausted. These days, we are not only loaded with work responsibilities but we also have to deal with kids, spouse and everything else that come bundled with our real-life. This overload of work can lead to risk of digital mental fatigue. This can not only affect our work output, but can also cause lack of energy, mental clarity, burnout and can lead to negative psychological and physical effects to our overall well-being. We can’t even notice if our colleague is dealing with such issues, as our only mode of communication is during a video conference.
Since the pandemic began, one-third of Americans have shown clinical signs of anxiety, depression or both, as per a CDC report. The question is how to find the balance between accepting a digital corporate culture to meet business expectations while fostering our mental health. Let’s have a look at the following four habits that we can think of considering.
Make the time
There is a need to provide ourselves with regular pulse checks, as every day is a balance between screen-time and me-time. Now, to move away from a digital screen, it takes conscious intention. You need to schedule mental health-focused pauses and put them in your calendar like a meeting. It’s one thing to take a 15-minute break to mindlessly scroll through your device, but it’s important to give yourself a chance to create space and disconnect. They only way to reconnect with yourself is disconnecting from anything electronic. Set a real timer, that way, you can let your mind to rest or wander. Stand up, go for a walk, and get some fresh air. Do anything that takes you away from staring at a screen.
To bring clarity and energy, even briefly closing your eyes can help. This will help you become effective at performing daily tasks. According to a PubMed study on naps, a 30-minute nap gives the body sufficient time to enter deep (slow-wave) sleep, which enhances attentiveness and memory. So, when the break notification pops up, honour the assigned time and recognize there’s more to life than work, even if it’s just for a few moments.
Set your boundaries
All of us are working professionals. Still, we have a service to offer to our customers. However, for a business, continuously feeling exhausted is not good. This is why there is need to set some clear boundaries and ensure all important parties are aware. Start by not attending meetings after a certain time of the day throughout the week. Also, say no to calls on the weekend. To serve the day you want to have, set up your schedule as best you can. In your email signature, try to highlight your public hours.
Know the signs
According to a Cigna report, three out of five adults say they are lonely, a seven percentage-point rise from 2018. We are very well aware of the situation that has compelled us to work alone from our own island. The world is undergoing the most substantial existential crisis of the last 100 years. This is what makes us feel okay not to feel okay. And due to the overload of information, the signs of digital fatigue can lead to apparently discrete symptoms. The fragmentation of your mind is one common sign.
We get to see ourselves in a never-ending procession of Zoom meetings, FaceTime calls and email responses. Too much bouncing back and forth between tasks can cause feeling mentally disjointed and lead to anxiety. In the emotional diet, too much anxiety can cause shortness of temper, hasty decision-making and overwhelm. Apart from this, physical discomfort can quickly cause emotional pain. When this takes place, it normal to feel soreness in our necks, head, eyes, tailbone, hands and feet on account of extended hours of sitting or standing. It’s time to readjust when these symptoms start creeping into your life.
What’s at stake
The planet is undergoing a transformation. The existence of a 9-to-5 workday is on the verge of becoming extinct, so there is a need to have real conversations about how things should change. As a completely digitized and globalized civilization, it’s evident our world need that we change. We’ve reached a crisis where our emotional supply chain needs to be our only indispensable business. It takes each one of us to do our part. Not only is this our right to live as content lives as possible but also our responsibility to others. Implementing these habits could basically change the way our world operates.