Addicted to Social Media? Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions from a Digital Native

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness is excited to feature Jason Kingdon as a guest writer with BOLDFISH. Jason is working on BOLDFISH to address the mental unrest caused by a tech-life imbalance. BOLDFISH is a free social media detox app that acts as a buffer between you and digital addiction.

 
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Addicted to Social Media? Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions from a Digital Native

My name is Jason, and I am the originator and CEO of BOLDFISH. I was spurred to begin research on digital addiction after seeing the epidemic spread amongst friends and peers. While working in China, I learned of the phrase 低头族 (dītóuzú), which literally translates to bowed-head group, or, rather, smartphone addicts. The phrase aptly portrays heads that are constantly in a dipped state towards a smartphone. After seeing them (us) first hand, I started doing informal polls and coincidentally, the news and media backed up my suspicions. Other than being Facebook (and Instagram) free for 3 years, I, alongside my team, am uniquely positioned to tackle this problem because we understand both millennial tech life while being just old enough to remember a time without technology.

At BOLDFISH, we’re here to nurture digital wellness and strive for a long-term solution to mental unrest caused by tech life imbalance. Do you want to determine if you’re addicted to social media? Start with our checklist below!

SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION CHECKLIST

1. DISTRACTED EATING

It is impossible to eat your food without taking a picture of it first? Regardless if you are alone or with your bosom buddy, you are hardly seated before your phone comes out -- assuming it wasn’t already in-hand.

 2. COMPULSIVE PHONE CHECKING

Is your phone is the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning? You probably check it before you’re even fully awake. You need to (begrudgingly) check your emails. Hyper-connectivity is starting to feel like less of a convenience and more of an obligation. Is it not?

3. FIGHTING TO BE PRESENT DURING CONVERSATIONS

Your friends and family have caught you updating your Facebook status (or Tweeting) in the middle of a serious conversation. “Yes I’m listening” you’ve said while thumbing an expression of boredom into your social app of choice.

4. BRINGING YOUR PHONE TO THE BATHROOM

You have forgotten what it was like to go to the bathroom without your phone. You are so accustomed to your smartphone that if forgotten, you end up reading the labels on random bathroom paraphernalia.

5. SHIFTING EXPECTATIONS

A new week rolls around and someone asks you how your weekend was. You feel confused - why wouldn’t they know about your weekend from your three different social media uploads? You remember, not everyone may be as plugged in as you.

6. CHECK-IN ADDICTION

You feel such a compulsion to “check-in” to every place you go that you even consider sarcastically “checking-in” to the restroom. Of course, you don’t check in until you’ve liked your own status on how Facebook is unfairly monitoring its users.

7. SOCIAL MEDIA SLANG MAKES ITS WAY INTO YOUR VOCABULARY

You speak in online shorthand sarcastically as a way to shore up against recognizing how our digital lives have observably bled into our offline day-to-day.  “LOL! That’s hilarious!” “OMG, like, the hashtag struggle bus has arrived. LOL!”

 Digital addiction isn’t all hashtags and LOLs, however. The results are in and Instagram has the highest risk of damaging the mental health of our youth. This survey of 1,479 young adults ranging from 14 to 24 years in age, found that the social media was a place to be a positive space for expressing and identifying the self, but conversely and concurrently negatively impacted body image, sleep habits, and anxiety levels such as #FOMO.

Digital addiction has skewed our offline perception. Some see a beautiful landscape and wonder how their online “followers” will react. Being obsessed with our phones, we thumb wrestle our screens to exhaustion. We check our phones compulsively even when we have no service. We just do it. We feel a need to. Digital addiction is the new norm.

THE SOLUTION IS DIGITAL WELLNESS

Digital wellness can be defined as taking back control from addictive technology in order to improve our daily lives. In an age of information overload, we need to relearn how to interact with technology. A granular example of this would be to first understand what apps we use, how much we use them, and act to tailor our in-phone behavior accordingly. This is important as sometimes what we see online isn’t reflective of reality -- i.e. “fake news,” social media, etc. Content providers, be it the social media user or the company itself, will often times put out sensational and tantalizing click-bait. This, in turn, encourages the reader/viewer/user to click, swipe, or “like.”

Another way to think of digital wellness is akin to a digital detox (or a digital diet). Let’s transmute technology for a second. Picture your favorite app as if it were your favorite food. Now imagine this favorite food of yours free flowing and available on a space gray platter, 24/7, 365. The fact that your digital addiction doesn’t affect your waistline, like your favorite food would, belies the true insidious nature of the problem. That’s to say you cannot see its immediate effects, but you can feel them. These are not new discoveries either. As with every change, it is easier to wean yourself off of a crutch rather than go cold-turkey. With a little personal accountability, we can learn to use less and take back control by not blaming chance, fate, or anyone else for our outcomes.

DIGITAL DETOX CHECKLIST

1. TURN OFF ALL NOTIFICATIONS

There are two types of cues that bring us back into our phone: 1) Thinking about something we can do by using our phone — e.g. making a phone call. 2) Notifications. The constant dings, pings, and buzz of push notifications remind you that there are a thousand little fires that need to be extinguished. Every single app on your phone has a notification setting that is “on” by default. More often than not, they are annoying and uninformative. Do some mental spring cleaning and consider removing all notifications that do not require immediate attention. By cutting down on notifications, smartphones are less of a distraction and battery life lasts longer to boot. A definite double-win!

2. SET UP “DO NOT DISTURB” ON YOUR PHONE

For iPhones, the DND mode allows you to customize who and when someone can reach you. Check out Apple’s Support page for more details on how to setup DND on the iPhone.

For Android devices, the DND mode allows you to customize who, when, and what form of communication can pass through when someone is trying to reach you. With Android, you can control calls, messages, reminders, and event notifications. Check out this page for more details on how to setup do not disturb on an Android.

3. KEEP YOUR PHONE OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

Unconsciously, people take out their phone because it’s easy to access. Wherever you are, keep your phone out of sight and off your person. If your phone is not easily accessible it won’t tempt you.

4. SLEEP WITHOUT YOUR PHONE

Start a new bedtime ritual that does not involve stress-checking emails or bingeing on the newest memes. The National Sleep Foundation has conducted studies that show cutting down your exposure to digital screens prior to bedtime is crucial to getting a good night’s rest.

SELF-CARE AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

Even if a Gen-Z’er might be predisposed to tech addiction because s/he grew up in the “digital age,” that’s not a sufficient reason to lack the understanding around our digital decisions. There is too much of a “good” thing. If fact, too much of anything is not good, why would it be any different for the tech that impresses upon us, day-to-day?

Digital addiction, in many circumstances, is not an easy thing to identify and, consequently, not an easy thing to break free from. As with most addictions, the first step to a solution requires acknowledgement, tolerance, and patience. This trifecta of mindfulness can catalyze the desire to change. This change is what drives us to get a handle on our addictions. By placing the blame on the companies, we play the fool by absolving ourselves from personal responsibility. The addictive cycles that our digital products thrive on are reinforced by the habitual consumer.

I hope these checklists help you assess your social media addiction and implement healthy habits! Want to try blocking social media? Sign up for BOLDFISH today.

Sincerely,

Jason


 
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Jason graduated from Columbia University. Prior to working on BOLDFISH, he was at Sinovation Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm in Beijing, China. During his time at Sinovation, he worked closely with the Investment Director to analyze and assess potential investment opportunities.

Learn more at goboldfish.com

 

About Nourishing Habits™

Nourishing Habits™ are practices that support your physical and emotional well-being in the digital age. Sometimes, we need a reminder to help us sustain a healthy habit. Join our newsletter or order your adventure offline mug today! 

 
 
 
 
 

Deciphering comfort zones: Embracing discomfort in a world designed for comfort

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness is excited to feature Gabi Jubran as a guest writer with Happi. Gabi is a firm believer that creating a world where parents feel deeply connected to themselves, to their communities, to the natural world, and to their children will naturally create more HAPPIness everywhere!

 
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Deciphering comfort zones: Embracing discomfort in a world designed for comfort

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
— Unknown

Let’s dive into the concept and experience of comfort. Life is inherently uncomfortable. Discomfort is a natural part of the process of growth - I guess that might be why they call it growing pains. You likely don’t remember, but your parent or caregiver certainly remembers how uncomfortable the process of teething was for you and them. That’s physical discomfort, but many of us these days are more burdened by mental discomfort. If you work in an office, from home or in front of any screen, there’s always something to do. Sometimes you really don’t want to, but you do it anyway because of some extrinsic motivation i.e. wealth, status, access, survival.

A more intense word for discomfort is stress. Stress is a critical part of our growth, but in order to understand its value you NEED rest.  In fact, we can break this down into a simple equation - STRESS + REST = GROWTH. In today’s society, it is common that we get plenty of mental stress with no mental rest while our bodies get plenty of physical rest with almost no physical stress. If we truly want to lead healthy lives, we need to embrace the initial discomfort of giving our minds a rest and a natural way to do that is taking on the initial discomfort of physical stress.

How did the mind and body get so out of balance?

There are a number of reasons for the imbalance, but chief among them are food, work, community and technology.

If you go back to 1800, 83% of the American labor force was in agriculture. That means that your food system, work, community and technology was all integrated for the purpose of survival. You cultivated organic (non-GMO, fair trade) food by physical labor with the help of different technologies. You also likely bartered your crop with other farmers in your community to have a well-balanced diet. There wasn’t even a food pyramid to tell you what kind of food to eat!  By the nature of your existence, you had physical and mental stress along with physical and mental rest.

If we fast forward to current day, the percentage of American labor force in agriculture is under 2%. Our concept of acquiring food, doing work, connecting with community, using technology can all be accomplished in front of a screen. (Just like the one you’re skimming this blog post on). Am I saying let’s go back to farming all day? Goodness no, I’ll gladly have AI do that for me. I’m saying that we need more mental rest and physical stress. It is, however, hard to have the motivation when we have a world designed for comfort.

Why did we design for comfort?

Comfort is something that can be quantified and measured. Once we know how comfortable an existing tool or process is, we can create a product or service to make it easier to use or consume.  This will be optimized continually until you get to the point where you know longer have to move more than your thumbs. Now you can hail a car, order food delivery, connect with your friends and do work on your phone. There is a comfort zone on your person nearly all of your waking hours and there is this perception that you never have to leave your comfort zone to progress in life.

Your individual happiness is much more difficult to quantify and really doesn’t scale well. Yet your happiness requires discomfort so you can more fully grow into the person that you want to be. As a result, your well-being can be fundamentally misaligned with the comfort we’ve grown so accustomed to.

The internet has brought us boundless amounts of information, which could either be beneficial or detrimental to your well-being. In order to help you find information that you want, think you want, or society dictates you want, we created machine learning algorithms. These tools have made life so comfortable that you don’t ever have to hear something that might make you feel uncomfortable. If someone says something you don’t like, you can even verbally attack them from the comfort of your own home.

Information itself is also comfortable, you can consume endless amounts of information and never have to fail at anything. You can be the most well-informed person on the planet and never do anything with it. Transformation, on the other hand, is uncomfortable. It’s about taking that information, deciphering if it serves you and then integrating into your life.

What do YOU want?

Ultimately, comfort is still really valuable. Comfort can save you time and energy which can be spent doing something uncomfortable that intrinsically motivates you. The question is what are you doing with the extra time and energy the comfort provides you?  Start to think of ways that you can incorporate more mental rest and physical stress into your life. You don’t have to go way outside of your comfort zone to take on a new habit that addresses those needs.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the BJ Fogg Tiny Habits Model. It gives you a scientifically proven, simple formula for incorporating intentional habits into your life. Improving your flexibility, building a gratitude practice, and learning how to meditate all starts with a tiny habit. The last suggestion I offer is to surround yourself with positive people who have diverse perspectives. The intention is to get comfortable with them to the point where you can have conversations that may be uncomfortable, but help you grow in the process.

Remember that reading this post is comfortable, but actually integrating the information to serve your happiness may be a little uncomfortable. You know what else is sometimes uncomfortable? The truth. My truth is that I do not write often and this is my first ever blog post. It was a VERY uncomfortable process for me but the process of writing was ultimately positive. To all those reading this, I hope my discomfort can serve you in some way!

  • Gabi Jubran

 

 

Read one of Gabi's favorite books!

 

 
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Gabi is the Founder/Executive Director of a non-profit called HAPPI (Helping Awesome Parents Parent Intentionally). Born and raised in the Bay Area, he has always been saturated by technology and is now on a mission to align tech's incentives with people's well-being. His inspiration came from watching his 2 year old niece play with an iPad and consume sponsored content through Youtube. Ultimately he realized this was a symptom of the Attention Economy and the biggest impact would come from educating parents. He is a firm believer that creating a world where parents feel deeply connected to themselves, to their communities, to the natural world, and to their children will naturally create more HAPPIness everywhere!

Learn more at happi.org

 

About Nourishing Habits™

Nourishing Habits™ are practices that support your physical and emotional well-being in the digital age. Sometimes, we need a reminder to help us sustain a healthy habit. Join our newsletter or order your adventure offline mug today! 

 
 
 
 
 

Screen Time Rules for Adults: Protecting Your Attention in an Age of Digital Distraction

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle is excited to feature Corey Pemberton as a guest writer with Freedom. Corey is a freelance writer and content marketer who loves writing about marketing, business, and productivity. Freedom is an app and website blocker used by over 750,000 people to reclaim focus and productivity.

 
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Screen Time Rules for Adults: Protecting Your Attention in an Age of Distraction


You've probably heard of screen time rules for children and teenagers. These help parents prevent access to adult websites, encourage kids to socialize and spend time outside, and handle whatever responsibilities they might have.

But that's usually where the conversation ends.

For adults, the thought of applying screen time rules for ourselves is often overlooked. Shouldn’t we have enough discipline to handle this on our own?

This couldn't be further from the truth. In this age of unprecedented screen access and interactions with tech designed to be addictive, it's never been more important to use every tool we can to ensure our screen time is healthy and intentional.

Understanding the Scope of the Problem

Kids aged eight to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of screens for entertainment every day.

This isn't something we just grow out of either. A Common Sense Media survey of 1,800 parents of children aged eight to 18 found that they spend a staggering nine hours and 22 minutes of screen time every day – eight of which were for personal use! Total screen time would have been even higher if the survey hadn't targeted a wide range of occupations, many of which didn't require screen use on the job.

Most unsettling: about 80 percent of the parents surveyed believed that they were good role models for how to use digital technology. This shows a serious lack of awareness to the scope of the problem.

We don't just have more access to screens than ever before. We're also facing an entirely new type of problem. For the first time in history we have the capability and data required to program tech that essentially hacks our biology to grab attention and keep us coming back. This is great for tech companies looking to increase engagement and ad revenue… but dangerous for users who would rather spend their precious time elsewhere.

Screen Time and Your Health

We've all been there. What starts out as an innocent plan to check your Instagram feed ends with dozens of open browser tabs. Hours blur, and after a trip down the black hole of recommended YouTube videos, you wonder where the afternoon went.

This technology can be great for connecting us, entertaining us, and teaching us new things. But only if you're using it in a healthy way.

The threats for productivity are obvious. What's often overlooked are the very real health risks.

Mental Health Risks

Tech offers an easy escape from the challenges of real life, feel-good dopamine spikes instead of being forced to confront negative emotions or conflicts. It recreates life's experiences vicariously, sometimes deceiving our brains with a false sense of accomplishment – like you'd feel “leveling up” in a video game.

Dopamine tricks our brains into thinking that we're staying connected, productive, and doing something meaningful. But in reality, we're staying inside, isolating ourselves from face-to-face interactions, and threatening our self-esteem by comparing our lives with all the wonderful ones on social media.

A study in the psychological journal Emotion found a correlation between daily screen time use and feelings of unhappiness. The teenage participants who spent more than a couple hours a day interacting with tech gadgets were unhappier than those who spent more time socializing face to face.

Physical Health Risks

All that time spent in front of screens makes it more difficult to stay active and physically healthy. While you might see people walking down the street staring at their phones (they might even run into you!), screen time is mostly a sedentary activity. We sit and watch instead of getting outside and moving around.

You're probably familiar with the research that found excessive sitting is just as dangerous as smoking. Adding on a bunch of recreational screen time to mandatory screen time at work only compounds the problem.

We also can't forget about posture. Most screen users slouch, with rounded shoulders and hunched necks. This strains your neck, back and shoulders, as well as your eyes.

Sleep

Too much screen time can also disrupt healthy sleep patterns. The dangers here are two-fold. First, quantity of sleep is at risk because we lie around playing with devices instead of going to bed when we should. Notifications ping throughout the night, sometimes waking us up.

Quality of sleep also takes a hit. Many of us are on screens shortly before bed because we use them to wind down. But the blue light from those devices mimics the effect of sunlight, disrupting your circadian rhythms and production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Notice how all these aspects are connected. Too much screen time might keep you from sleeping well, which leaves you feeling sluggish and underperforming at work. And that might make you even more stressed out and anxious about losing your job. The excess screen time kicks off a vicious cycle.

Screen Time and Relationships

How often have you seen a couple eating in a restaurant together with both heads buried in their smartphones?

This happens all the time. There's even a new term for it, “phubbing,” which is snubbing your real-life company by looking at your phone. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that it creates conflict and decreases a partner's levels of reported relationship satisfaction.

This sharp increase in screen time doesn't just limit the quantity of our real-life interactions. It can also disrupt the quality. Even when you manage to get your friends to do something social, their attention is lacking.

Notifications ping every minute or so, interrupting conversations. And the constant flood of new information accumulating on social media feeds convinces us that, unless we stay on top of it all, we're missing out. Fear of missing out (FOMO) makes us often neglect the people right in front of us.

Is It Making Us Happier?

Adults have embraced screen time wholeheartedly. The generation entering adulthood now grew up with them; they simply don't know any different.

Some screen time is mandatory for work, so there's no getting around that. But what about all that time we spend using screens for fun? All those hobbies and contemplation time we've replaced to scroll, tap, and click our way to constant stimulation?

You have to wonder if it's making us any happier.

Not necessarily.

Using screens might make us feel good for the moment, but those feelings don’t last. It's kind of like the empty calories you'd get eating a doughnut or drinking soda. There's a burst of sugary sweetness, followed by a letdown. You're still isolated – and those potentially productive hours are gone.

That said, there's no reason why you need to eliminate screen time completely. The key is to set healthy boundaries. When you're competing with technology engineered to be addictive, it's hard to rely on willpower alone.

Website blockers like Freedom help you set boundaries and develop a healthier relationship with tech. Recurring sessions run over and over again during time blocks you schedule, blocking time-wasting websites and allowing you to build better habits. And for those moments when you can't handle the cravings or really need to work, there's always locked mode. It makes it impossible to delete the block lists or devices until your active Freedom session ends.

How to Set Healthy Screen Time Rules

A better relationship begins by deciding how much time you want to spend in front of screens. This doesn't have to be the same for every day, but knowing your limits allows you to work backwards and put that time to best use. You might reconsider checking Facebook for the ninth time if you knew you only had thirty minutes left that day.

Once you have your screen time limits in mind, it’s time to get clear on why you’re making this commitment. As computer science professor and productivity expert Cal Newport points out, unless you give yourself good reasons to avoid the screen time, that hankering to hop on YouTube or check your social media accounts is that much harder to resist.

Newport recommends writing a personal “attention charter,” a document that guides your decisions about when you’ll allow yourself some screen time. You get to define which circumstances must met before you’ll allow the screens into your life.

The Freedom app will help you limit unplanned screen time and develop a healthier relationship with tech. However, it's just a tool. It's ultimately up to you to decide how to use it – as well as any other screen time rules you'd like to set.

Aside from using Freedom, brainstorm a few rituals you would like to enjoy screen-free. This might mean turning off devices during family dinners, walks, or chats with friends, or no screens an hour before bed. Tim Ferriss loves his screen-free Saturdays.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you can always move gradually. Start with a website blocking app like Freedom. Experiment with one screen-free ritual that's manageable. You might find that you enjoy the real-life interactions and peace of mind so much that you'll be eager to try more.

Changing Your Tech Habits for Good

So much of our screen time these days happens inadvertently. Habits we don't even realize that we've formed have become deeply ingrained, and they drive us to react without thinking.

Building a healthier relationship with this technology starts by building better habits.

How?

First we need to identify the triggers that drive us to spend all that time with screens. Simply telling yourself that you'll stop checking Twitter so much tomorrow isn't good enough. Knowing the triggers helps you understand what's motivating the incessant Twitter-checking in the first place.

Common screen time triggers include:

  • Certain sensations and/or emotional states. Pay attention to when you're most likely to binge with your screen time. Are you often hungry, stressed, or bored?

  • Familiar environments.

  • Notifications. Texts, emails, push notifications from apps, etc.

  • Rituals. Far too many of us check the email on our phones the moment we wake up. We repeat the behavior so often that it happens automatically.

Once you pinpoint what your triggers are, it's time to create barriers between them and unwanted screen use.

If you can't help but react to those constant notifications coming in on your smartphone, turn them off. Add problematic websites to a Freedom block list so you'll gain awareness every time you try to visit them. Maybe rearrange how apps are displayed on your tablet, or put your phone in grayscale – anything to disrupt the seamless trigger and response pattern happening now.

While you work to remove bad habits at their roots, replace them with all the things you used to do! Schedule date night with your partner, go hiking with a friend, or take some time to go on a quiet bike ride just thinking. And when you do choose to use screens, do so with your full attention. You'll appreciate that time more when it's limited.

Screen time can be a fun way to connect and have fun – as long as it's in moderation. If you're wasting too much time caught in the addictive tech cycle, it's time to build a healthier relationship. Tools like Freedom will empower you to do just that!

 


 
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Corey Pemberton is a freelance writer for Freedom and content marketer who loves writing about marketing, business, and productivity. When he's not pounding away at the keyboard, he enjoys live music and getting outside to explore nature. Learn more about Corey at www.copyarc.com

Read more at: freedom.to

 

About Nourishing Habits™

Nourishing Habits™ are practices that support your physical and emotional well-being in the digital age. Sometimes, we need a reminder to help us sustain a healthy habit. Join our newsletter or order your adventure offline mug today! 

 
 
 
 
 

Parenting: Left Holding the Smartphone

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle is excited to feature Georgie Powell as a guest writer. Powell is the CEO of SPACE, a leading phone addiction app across Android and IOS. As a new mum, Powell was unhappy with the amount of time she was spending on social media. She became an advocate for digital wellbeing with a mission to help millions of people to find their phone life balance.

 
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Left Holding the Smartphone

When did you first realise that perhaps you were using your phone in a way that wasn’t benefiting your life?  

My wake up call was when, as a new mum, I caught myself looking at photos of my daughter on my phone, while breastfeeding her.  I realised these precious moments were passing me by because I was drawn to my screen. The best image of her was right there, in my arms, and I was missing it.

Purpose and Presence

I’ve observed my friends as more of them enter the rollercoaster of motherhood and often think about how their phone use might be changing, whether their habits are helping them through these difficult times, or not.  On the one hand, our phones have never been more useful - we can use them to time feeds, to monitor our babies as they sleep, to stay connected during an otherwise isolating time, and of course, to take snaps of those oh so precious moments.  

But at the same time, for many of us, phones become more pervasive than ever. Boredom and fatigue pull us to our phones.  We while away the time as our babies sleep or suckle, scrolling through news feeds, refreshing Instagram, trying to respond to messages that come flooding, and googling for the 100th time exactly how long our baby’s naps should be, and whether or not they may die from the pink dot on the end of their little finger.  It has become increasingly apparent to me that this type of phone use does not help in those early days of motherhood.

My best friend, an avid Instagrammer, summed it up perfectly.  After a few days of not much sleep, she was quite fairly feeling less than her best.  Scrolling through social media, she was torturing herself with images of ‘perfect mums’ with similar aged babies, sipping lattes in sun-drenched cafes, blow-dried hair, flat bellies.   It took some effort to remind her that she was also going to cafes, where a strategically applied filter on a photo would give the same look - but by then her mood was already down.

Recommendations

Stay vigilant at this time of life change and stay conscious of how you are using your phone.  If you need the ultimate motivator, think of the rate at which your child is learning right now. What are you teaching them if you are looking at a screen and not at them? More on family to come, but for now, to all you new time mum’s out there…..what can you do?

  1. Find alternative ways to fill your downtime.  Get into podcasts, learn a language, or build out your book supply.
     
  2. Be organised with your time.  Find some specific slots each day to respond to messages and social media.  Try to align these with your baby’s schedule - maybe during their morning nap time?
     
  3. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.  How are you feeling? Is the internet really the right place to look for an answer to your problem?  Will visiting Facebook and seeing others having more fun really make you feel better right now?
     
  4. Leave your phone at home - Take your baby out, just you and them.  Go for a walk. Sit and stare into space if you have to. Be present with your child and make memories just for you and them.  
     
  5. Switch off early - even if there is not much distinction between night and day, there can be for your phone.  Think about switching off at a similar time each day - switch to airplane mode, and disconnect from the outside world.  Everything can wait and you need that off-time.

With baby number two soon to arrive, these reminders are going to be up on my fridge.  I don’t want to miss those moments this time round!

-Georgie Powell, Georgie Powell, CEO PHONE LIFE BALANCE

 

Find your phone life balance today!


 
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Georgie Powell, Mphil is the co-founder & CEO of Phone Life Balance Ltd, creators of SPACE.  A former graduate of Oxford and Cambridge University, she has built her career in media, telecoms and technology, first as a strategy consultant working across Europe and ASIA, and prior to launching Phone Life Balance Ltd, working for Google, where she led YouTube’s content business in Australia.

Georgie is committed to a future where we use technology consciously to make the world a better place.  Her wake-up moment about her own phone habits was when she became a new mum, glued to social media and not feeling great about it. 

Georgie is a recognised thought leader in the future of tech, ethical tech and digital wellness and was recently invited by Google to speak about ‘ethical and sustainable app engagement’ to an audience of their top 150 app developers. She has also recently been featured on the globally acclaimed digital mindfulness podcast. 

Read more at: www.space-app.com

 

About Nourishing Habits™

Nourishing Habits™ are practices that support your physical and emotional well-being in the digital age. Sometimes, we need a reminder to help us sustain a healthy habit. Join our newsletter or order your adventure offline mug today! 

 
 
 
 
 

What Your Kids Want You To Know: Social Media and Tech Rules Youth Wish Their Parents Would Follow

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle is thrilled to feature Havi Wolfson Hall, LCSW as a guest writer. Havi is a fellow social worker and founder of Health-E-Connections, a private therapy practice focused on balancing our lives online and offline. Havi currently focuses her work with children, adolescents, and their families at JFCS Parents Place in Palo Alto, CA.


 

The Technology and Social Media Rules Kids and Teens Wish Their Parents Would Follow

A recent research study entitled “Not at the Dinner Table: Parents’ and Children’s Perspectives on Family Technology Rules” found that the majority of the 259 families studied have rules around social media and technology. It also found that only 6% of families have no rules or expectations at all about technology use.  The researchers asked the same questions to the parents and children in each family and the conclusions were eye opening.

This study also generated seven general rules children wished their parents would follow: 

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1. Be Present. Given the rapid rise of different types of technology available to us today we as adults often have difficulty monitoring ourselves when it comes to technology. Our kids are reporting that we are the ones with the inability to put away our phones.  As their role models it is incumbent on us to demonstrate we are taking the time to be mindful and present with them, rather than prioritizing our screens.

2. Child autonomy. Our children can only show us how capable they are when we give them the chance to prove it! Within the limits of the rules created as a family, show your children that you trust them. Once that baseline trust is created, additional responsibilities can be added.  Start with devices that are closed systems, for example nothing with web browsing capabilities or internet access. As your children’s needs increase, so, too can their devices.  We do not hand over the keys to a race car as soon as our kids pass the drivers permit! Same should be said for technological devices. 

3. Moderate use. If our children had a say, they would ask us to balance our technology use with other activities. Find times throughout the day where you put your phone away, breakfast time, in the car, and dinner time are great times to start!  Fill the time with other activities you can do as a family. Family meals, walks, game night, etc. are all great bonding activities that naturally lend themselves to increased communication and feelings of connectedness.

4. Supervise but don’t Intrude. Our children might not like our rules, but our children also want us and need us to help keep them safe. The research also found that children are more open to our rules when those rules are around their personal safety and welfare, as opposed to when we set rules related to issues of personal taste. When first introducing a device to your child or deciding to add a new function or app to the device, go over the owner manual and tutorials so that you and your child are learning together. Be clear with your children that “Supervision” is not the same as “Spying”. When children understand that there will be routine checks of their devices, they will be more cognizant of how their devices are used. Communicate with your child that you trust them with their device, and mistakes will be made, but they will not lose their device as a punishment. Instead their device will get an appropriate downgrade. This will keep your lines of communication open and honest so that you are seen as more of an influence and guide rather than an authoritarian.

5. Not while driving. Not even at traffic lights! Children want us to stop texting or looking at our phones when we’re behind the wheel, even if we’re stopped at traffic lights. They’re watching everything we do. One day they’ll be driving, and when they are, we will want them to put their phones down too.

6. Don’t overshare. They really don’t want us to share information about them without their explicit permission. According to Sarita Schoenebeck, assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and one of the authors of the study, ‘Twice as many children as parents expressed concerns about family members over sharing personal information about them on Facebook and other social media without permission … Many children said they found that content embarrassing and felt frustrated when their parents continued to do it.” Also by setting appropriate boundaries for your own posting, you are setting an example of personal boundaries for your children so later in life they, too, will not overshare.

7. Practice what you preach. Kids and teens want their parents to practice what they preach. For example putting the phone down when everyone at the table should be a rule that applies to everyone. As a family when you create your technology rules, be mindful that these are rules for every family member, even the parents. This helps everyone be more accountable for their own actions and more likely to follow the rules.   


Take Action

 
 

Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour respite from digital devices.  This year it will be taking place from sundown March 9th-Sundown March 10th. Try putting away your phone in one of their “cell phone sleeping bags” available at Parents Place locations. It can be for one hour, the whole day or somewhere in between! It may impact you in a way you never expected.

 
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As an agency we are dedicated to the idea of responsible use of technology and are here to assist your family create your own Family Rules around Technology particularly if it has become a cause of stress in your home.

For further information contact Havi Wolfson Hall, LCSW to set up an appointment at 650-699-3080 or havih@jfcs.org

 

 
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Havi Wolfson Hall, LCSW

Child and Adolescent Therapist

At Parents Place and JFCS Havi is one of our Child and Adolescent Specialists specializing in child anxiety, depression, self-regulation, and internet addiction. She has worked as a psychotherapist since 2000 and was previously at Jewish Family Services in Los Angeles where she treated individuals, couples, and families coping with issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, and divorce. She also led groups and provided workshops in the community on post-traumatic stress, addiction, and cybersafety. Before moving to the Bay Area in 2010, Havi grew a private therapy practice called Health-E-Connections which focused on the ever evolving issues regarding how to balance our lives online and offline. Havi has a Master’s degree from Hebrew Union College in Jewish Communal Service and an MSW from The USC School of Social Work.

 

Feng Shui for Digital Wellbeing: Rest, Romance, and Recalibrating Rituals

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle is excited to feature Tracy McDowell as a guest writer. McDowell is the founder of Nested Feng Shui and specializes in transforming spaces to ignite positive change and momentum in her clients' lives. 


 

Feng Shui for Digital Wellbeing: Rest, Romance, and Recalibrating Rituals

Have you ever wondered, why am I having trouble falling asleep? Is my phone killing my sex life? Where is the best place to store my phone at night? These are all questions that can addressed through the framework of Feng Shui.

Hi, my name is Tracy McDowell. I am a Feng Shui Consultant with Nested Feng Shui. Feng Shui a powerful practice that integrates interior design and eastern philosophies to bring balance, abundance, health, love and harmony to a home.

As the number of screens around us increases it is crucial to consider how they might be affecting our mood and wellness. Screen time is becoming more commonplace in homes; as are feelings agitation and overstimulation. You are not alone in feeling scattered, in fact you are not scattered, your habits are scattered. Lucky, there is a way to bring all your scattered energies back to a balanced focused point, Feng Shui for technological wellbeing. You have the power to change your physical environment to support your health and digital wellbeing. With a few simple Feng Shui inspired changes you can drastically improve your day to day sense of ease and inner peace.

The Importance of Creating a Space for Deep Rest

Often in our busy twenty first century lives we become detached from ourselves and the patterns that keep us healthy and happy. Do you find yourself telling everyone "sorry I'm booked" or lamenting how you wish you could relax but "you're just so busy." Busy is not always a badge of honor. "Busy" is sometimes a sign of imbalance within a lifestyle and an indication that rest is needed. Our minds and bodies require supportive spaces for both productivity and rest as we carry out our work and familial obligations.

Being in flow is not rocket science, it can be simple, it is magic, and anyone can tap into it. Consider implementing one or two of these suggestions. As you settle into the shift you might begin to notice yourself decompressing and exhaling into your space and self.

Nested Feng Shui is a practice about actively building the environment around oneself. "Settle into your heart by settling into your home." There is no one size fits all answer for Feng Shui and there is no one size fits all approach for the best place to put technology in the home. Nested Feng Shui was founded with the intention of meeting clients where they are at, AKA tailoring their space to fit and support their personal needs, wants, and goals, thus a personal consultation is always advised for the best results. That said, there are some logical rules of thumb that I end up telling every client. These rules of thumb are intuitive, approachable, and you can implement them in your home today.

 

The bedroom is for rest and romance.

Say it with me, "the bedroom is for rest and romance." And again, "the bedroom is for rest and romance." Rest. Romance. At Nested Feng Shui we like to be specific about the intention of a space, that way the energy knows where to go and what to do as it flows around the home. Intention is a powerful tool.

Bedrooms are safe spaces to cultivate love and intimacy; on both the personal and partner levels. Like the name implies, a bed room is a room for a bed. (If you are in a position where your bedroom is your entire space, like a studio or dorm situation, imagine your bed and sleep being separate from everything else as you read on). A bedroom is a space set aside specifically for something comfy (a bed) to support your rest and romance. A bedroom with positive Feng Shui is free of technology. In Feng Shui technology is linked to office spaces or entertaining spaces, not bedrooms. Ideally, the bedroom feels like a safe and secure island where you can drift into dreams or get your freak on uninterrupted. Picture your bedroom right now. Does it bring a sense of ease? Does your bedroom make you feel safe? Is your bedroom like an oasis amidst all the hustle and bustle of your life? You have the ability to create a space specifically designed to help you fall asleep faster, wake up more easily, and be able to completely surrender while making love.

Step 1: Remove screens that emit blue light

Step 2: Remove devices that emit EMF (electromagnetic frequencies).

Easy, remove your phone, laptop, iPad, and television from the bedroom.

Eliminating blue light will help restore your circadian rhythms and melatonin production. From natural sources, blue light is great because it boosts alertness and mood. From unnatural sources, like screen related technologies, blue light begins to trick your body out of its circadian rhythm and deplete your bodies natural melatonin production.

EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) can lead to all sorts of alarming conditions that you can google and worry about, or you can avoid that worrying step and simply start to decrease the risks of surrounding yourself with EMF while you sleep by removing your teach from our room. That includes your phone and phone charging station.

In short, keeping your phone, computer or tv of out the bedroom will improve your health and wellbeing by encouraging deeper rest and intimacy. Both sleep and sex are activities that open our hearts and minds to help us reach deep relaxation. It's is much easier to enjoy and sink into those two bliss states without distractions.

Would you put a baby to bed with an iPad to play with? No, when you put a baby to bed you do everything in your power to make that room and space remind the baby, it's is bed time. You place them in a quiet room, you close all the blinds, maybe put on a white noise machine, dim the lights, and close the door.

Consider treating yourself with the same level of care. As adults we are great at signaling to children that it is time to decompress, but not as good with ourselves. It is up to us to model healthy behavior. You would never leave a baby alone to and iPad or phone and say, "ok go to sleep." You know that the screen time is stimulating and that sleep time is about removing all stimulus to allow the the parasympathetic (rest and digest) to kick in. Phones, laptops, and televisions ideally are not part of the rest and romance equation. Keep them out of the bedroom. Protect two of the most valuable and vulnerable actions, sleep and sex, by removing technology from the bedroom.

Landing Station

A highly overlooked part of a healthy home that ingrates technology is a set space for placing and charging your electronics. My clients often benefit greatly from establishing a space upon entering the house that's their “landing pad.” By creating a location with a phone charger and space for papers, mail, and/or a bag you are signaling to yourself and others that you're leaving the outside outside and switching into home mode. By all means, use your phone and technologies in your house, but also consider how freeing it will feel to have one location where all the outside/online world can be left towards the end of the day. You will have more space for you, so you can begin to create a night time routine [link to routine blog] for you to enjoy and decompress without the huddle and bustle of outside/online life.

 

Begin Today


As a Feng Shui Consultant with Nested Feng Shui I am often guiding my clients to make tiny tweaks to their spaces that ripple out into positive changes for their entire life. An easy first step to experiment with the power of Feng Shui is examining where your keep your tech in your home and than seeing what happens when you remove it from your sleep space and find anew home for it that allows you to unplug when needed.

-Tracy McDowell

www.nestedfengshui.com

 


 
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Tracy McDowell is a California-based Feng Shui Consultant trained by Alina Cruz of the  International Feng Shui School. Tracy is known for her ability to transform spaces without spending a dime and helping her clients create supportive spaces to ignite positive change and momentum in their lives.  Read more at:www.nestedfengshui.com.

 

Nourishing Habits™

Nourishing Habits™ are practices that support your physical and emotional well-being in the digital age. Sometimes, we need a physical reminder to help us sustain a healthy habit. Try hanging your phone outside of your bedroom every night with Bagby! Bagby is a family owned, small business working to foster authentic human connection and intimacy through digital wellness. Get your bagby today!

 
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Positive Tech and Software Development

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle is thrilled to feature Zack Prager as a guest writer. Prager is the founder of Ransomly technologies for tech detox and specializes in talking about positive tech & digital well-being.

 
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Positive Tech and Software Development

I live in two fields:  positive psychology and software development.  

I was lucky enough to do my graduate work under Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology,  at UPenn and fortunate enough to work on many tech start-up teams as a developer. In the last 5 years I have been working to develop positive tech.  

I have worked on my own projects like GratitudeBucket.com, a social network built around appreciating others, and www.Ransomly.com, an internet of things company that helps people put down their phones and connect in real life.  I have also worked with organizations like the University of Pennsylvania and Blue Zones on their positive tech initiatives.

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What is positive tech?  

Simply put, it is technology that makes people happier.  In more academic terms, it is a user experience informed by the science of well-being and whose efficacy is measured with a validated well-being scale.  

Until recently, we didn’t have many empirical measures for well-being and happiness but today, we have dozens of established scales.  That means we can actually determine if our products are making people’s lives better or worse.

Why is it needed?

There is no doubt that advances in software have made our lives better in many ways.  For example, we have more access to information and tools for productivity than ever before.

Unfortunately, it comes at a cost.  The early research suggests much of our software is not actually making our lives better.  In some cases, it is actually making out lives worse by distracting us from building real relationships and doing our best work.  Below are just a few examples.

Relationships - loss of connection

Technology is getting in the way of real connection. Lulu Cheng and her colleagues have found that just the presences of a turned-off smartphone lowers the quality of conversation and a recent Consumer Mobility Report found that people are more likely to reach for their phone than their significant other first thing in the morning.  

Productivity - loss of focus

Our screens our constantly demanding our attention.  The constant connectivity of today’s work forces us to multi-task.  Unfortunately, the research shows we can’t do it very well. In fact, according to one researcher, multi-tasking reduces your ability to focus so much so it is like working high on marijuana.  

Moods - loss of joy

Our time on our phone is engaging so we often fail to notice what it is doing to our moods.  But evidence shows that we are often feel sad, jealous, or disappointed when we spend time on phones.  The apps that grab our attention the most often tend to be the ones that invite of to compare our lives against another’s.  So instead of giving us a mood boost, we often feel deflated after scrolling through our feeds.

That is just some of the early evidence about how our smartphone use is negatively affecting our lives.  There is much more and more coming in everyday it seems.

What can we do about it?

Finding digital well-being is about finding balance.  We can not throw our technology out and expect to live productive, healthy lives.  But we can find a healthier, balanced relationship with it.

Dr. Kimberly Young, a pioneer in treating internet addiction and an advisor to Ransomly, uses nutrition as an analogy for our relationship with our screens.  

Food can be unhealthy but the answer is not to stop eating.  Instead, we need to find the right amount and the right kind of food that helps us be as healthy as possible. The same is true for out relationship to our screens.  We have to find healthy amount of time and the time we do spend on our screens should be positive.

How I create balance:  carving out distraction-free space

One way to improve balance is to carve out tech-free space.  Evidence shows us that our environments shape our behaviors. So if we create space that is tech-free, that will likely lead to more real connection, more focus, and more self-care.

At Ransomly, we have created a Bluetooth beacon and app that allows you to make a room smart-phone free.  When you come in range of the beacon, your phone no longer has access to any of its apps.

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Does carving out tech-free space work?

Yes!  A couple of researchers from East London University, Nicola Hughes and Jolanta Burke, ran an experiment where participants didn’t use their phone in their bedroom.  The phone-less bedrooms lead to better moods, better sleep, and more focus for the participants.

A proposition

Since smartphone-use gets in the way our happiness and carving out tech-space appears to improve our lives in significant ways, my team is advocating for the creation smartphone-free spaces at work, home, and in public spaces.

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I hope you decide to join us in carving out distraction-free spaces for meaningful real life connection and deep work.

-Zack Prager

Ransomly.com

 

Buy your beacon today to create space for humanity. 

 
 

 
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Zack works on building user experiences that make people happier in a field called positive technology (a.k.a humane technology).  He studied software development at UCLA and Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and launched Ransomly, a tech start-up that helps people get off their phone and connect with others in real life.  Along with running his company he sometimes lectures at UCSD, SDSU, and academic conferences around the globe.

His work has been covered by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune, ABC, CW, NBC, Brit+Co, & more.

Ransomly.com

GratitudeBucket.com

 

Teaching Digital Wellness Through Theater

Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching is proud to feature Pat McAndrew as a guest writer. McAndrew is founder of The Low Tech Trek, and a NYC actor dedicated to examining technology’s impact on society and cultivating stronger human relationships.

 
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Teaching Digital Wellness Through Theater

Building The Low Tech Trek has been an exciting journey.  It started as a supplement to my one-man show REEL, which was performed in the 2017 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City.  I wrote REEL is about technology’s impact on human relationships and how we connect to one another in the digital age.

Once the show closed, it became my mission to keep The Low Tech Trek going.  At the time, it was a rare breed, but over the course of the past year, awareness regarding technology’s impact on our cognitive and social development has skyrocketed.  Tristan Harris and other collaborators formed the Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing more humane, people-centered technology, which is a great contrast from the attention-sucking industry that is currently king of the castle.

Mission and Social Impact

The Low Tech Trek’s mission is to cultivate genuine, human relationships and facilitate human interaction.  In a world that is seemingly becoming more divided, my aim is to bring us closer together. We must accept difference with open arms and continuously learn from others from diverse backgrounds.  It’s the only way that we can move forward.

While the positive tech psychology development of new design is crucial in the design of new technology today, I wanted The Low Tech Trek to focus primarily on our behavior and our social responsibility to ourselves.  I have witnessed first-hand how our interactions and conversations are different now because of the existence of the smartphone.  Many conversations revolve around our phones, while those that don’t rarely reach any meaning or depth.

I come from a theatre and acting background.  The skillsets one develops in the performing arts are highly beneficial to humanity and I felt it would be unwise to ignore them.  Being an actor teaches us how to be better listeners, how to communicate our viewpoints effectively, how to present ourselves, and how to remain present and aware to our surroundings.  We must all be actors in our lives. I’m not saying we must be the next star on Broadway, but we must be proactive in our work and our relationships. If we take a passive stance in our lives, which is often the case in our tech-obsessed culture, then our lives will pass us by, leaving us unfulfilled, empty, and unhappy.

I use various theatre and performance theory and expertise to inspire this action in people.  The Low Tech Trek is not The NO Tech Trek. I recognize technology’s wealth of opportunities and we should utilize it to the fullest as a tool for positive change.  We mustn’t, however, let technology consume us, turning us into mindless zombies without a target to hit or destination to reach.  Through performance-based exercises, we can reignite the flame of conversation and connection, we can grow our understanding of what it means to be human, and we can live happier and more fulfilled lives through the relationships which we build.

I have coached individuals in my practices and have just begun speaking at events related to this extremely important topic.  As for the future, I am in the works of developing interactive and engaging workshops and creating courses that will benefit those interested in looking for more depth and meaning in their lives.  The Low Tech Trek is certainly a movement towards a better, alternative way of living among the never-ending noise of the digital age. I hope you join us!

-Pat  McAndrew

thelowtechtrek.com

 

 
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Pat McAndrew is a digital wellness consultant and actor currently based in New York City.  He is the founder of The Low Tech Trek, a community devoted to discovering a better balance between technology and humanity.  Using techniques and methods rooted in theater and performance, Pat coaches individuals and organizations on how to communicate effectively, build stronger relationships, and improve their focus, presence, and productivity.  His one-man show, REEL, which deals with the impact technology has on human relationships, was featured in the 2017 United Solo Theatre Festival in NYC and in the new documentary, 'Electronic Crack.' He has performed in various locations throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and writes regularly for The Low Tech Trek Blog.  Learn more at thelowtechtrek.com.

 

Digital Wellness and Remote Workspaces: 3 Tips for Creating a Supportive Environment

If you have a home office or travel for work, you know just how hard it can be to stay focused in an untraditional setting. Considering technology hygiene is the first step to amping up your concentration and and increasing your productivity.

What is tech hygiene? Just as "sleep hygiene" refers to habits that are conducive to sleeping soundly and feeling rested, "tech hygiene" refers to the best practices for digital productivity and self care. Good tech hygiene results in eliminating overwhelm/avoiding burnout.

Whether it be at home or on the go, you can start practicing good tech hygiene tomorrow. How? By creating a structured work environment that reinforces focus, posture, and Nourishing Habits™ in your daily routine. 

1. Define a Designated Working Space

  • Carve out desk space at your home, hotel, or Airbnb.

  • If you’re tight on room, create a mini home office with a side table or lap desk.

 
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2. Consider Ergonomics

  • Purchase a computer stand to prevent neck strain and headaches. I use my rain stand every day! 

  • Install an app that filters blue light, such as f.lux, on your devices to prevent eye fatigue and promote eye health.

  • Buy an office chair that supports your lumbar spine and posture.

 
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3. Meal Productivity

  • Block off time for lunch breaks like you would for any meeting. You deserve something to look forward to!

  • Save hours of your precious workday with prepped, home-cooked meals or healthy takeout.

 
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You and I know that with so many distractions at our fingertips, maintaining a work routine in the 21st century can be challenging! If you haven’t tried these methods yet, now is the perfect time. By defining your workspace, you will create a distraction-free work zone. Prioritizing ergonomics while working from home and traveling will support your physical and mental wellbeing, allowing your focus to last without pain and fatigue creeping in. Finally, be sure to make meal productivity and healthy eating a non-negotiable part of your work week. Incorporating these Nourishing Habits™ is a solid step towards incrasing productivity and buidling a fulfulling self-care routine.

For more tips, please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on social media! 

Want to know more? Comment on this post or book your free consultation. 

Warmly,

Nina Hersher

Productivity + Self-Care Coach