First, lest anyone think I’m flinging stones from my [Google] glass house, an upfront disclaimer:
I’m a gadget geek down to my core.
When I walk into my local Apple store, at least three Geniuses greet me with “Hey, where’ve you been…sick?” while a fourth pulls out my usual end stool at the bar. (Of course, this all speaks to my chronic incompetence managing all the shiny chrome and black toys that make up my Apple ecosystem, but they are always very nice about it, and never make me feel like the techno-idiot my frequent presence there suggests.)
As useful as these digital tools can be, we don’t have to search far to find the slew of ways we misuse technology to the detriment of our mental, physical or social well-being. Perched on our hindquarters for hours on end gaming, surfing the web or on social media, instead of out getting exercise of some sort. Walking around head down for most of our day, glued to our phone interface and texting furiously, instead of engaging with people face-to-face. You know…an actual live, in-person conversation. Remember those? Where we humans of yore would hone ancient skills like active listening, inferring context, mastering social cues, and having to actually look in the eyes of the person you were intent on verbally attacking.
No one knows for sure the full extent all this “FOMO” (fear of missing out)-based digital activity will have on our health and well-being, but the studies and findings that have begun rolling out are definitely giving me pause. I’m especially waiting for the release of the indie documentary titled Sleeping with Siri, the account of a Seattle writer who, as a social and health experiment, went on a technology binge bender and then abruptly quit cold turkey. You can check out the film trailer here:
Sidebar: If you’ve never woken up in the morning to the sensation of your drool-stained cheek stuck to the cold glass screen of your smartphone, because you fell asleep somewhere between asking Siri to remind you to do something the next day, and actually placing it in its bedside docking station…trust me, it’s an eye opener. (Funny how my first thought was “Aw, man, my phone didn’t charge,” rather than the more appropriate “Aw, man, I’ve finally gone nuts and must now seek professional help.”)
But I digress. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to use technology to actually boost our wellness efforts. If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated daily and on track with your diet and exercise goals…
…I’ve got an app for that:
This is a great 7-minute meditation exercise (.mp3; right click to download) that speaks specifically to Making Healthy Choices. It was created and recorded by my longtime friend Freddi Donner, executive coach and founder of the DC-area firm Business Stamina. Freddi, who also has an extensive background in the health and wellness sector, is known for her success coaching clients and teams both at a personal and professional level. The meditation recording came about when many of these same clients begged her for a mobile companion to their regular sessions. (And I don’t blame them. If you’ve got the caffeine jitters or are suffering from junk food withdrawal, Freddi’s soothing and inspiring voice will definitely talk you down off the ledge!) Freddi was kind enough to grant me use of the recording here, so that more fitness buffs – or those aspiring to be – might benefit from it as a daily affirmation.
There are a ton of ways to use this short meditation during your daily routine. Play it on your iPod speakers while you are getting dressed in the morning, but before you have your first meal of the day. Play it through your car speakers during your commute in to work or school, or on the bus or train, if you take mass transit in. Play it as the intro to your workout, while you gather your gear and get set up. If you’re a walker or runner, make it the first track of your usual exercise playlist, to play during your first warm-up strides. Stuck in line at the bank over your lunch hour? Put your earbuds in, and actually pass time on your phone productively. Trapped in a traffic jam on the way to dinner with friends? Queue it up, as a reminder not to overindulge when you finally get there.
While the applications are endless, remember that no audio, video or other tool can save you from yourself. In the end, we’ve all got to put the work in to cultivate new and healthier habits until they become second-nature, and consistently make the right choice when faced with that fork in the road…