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Taming technology

Tory Archbold Interviewing Dr Kristy Goodwin

While recording this episode of the Powerful Stories Podcast, we were in lockdown.  All of us are closely monitoring our digital devices. Kristy says, ‘I call it digital burnout – we are overwhelmed by notifications. The reality is, we have ancient brains which were not designed to be plugged in and processing information 24/7.’ As a result, many of us are left feeling stressed and burnt out.

So, what can we do? Kristy says that we should first apply a proximity strategy by placing devices out of sight. ‘Research shows that mental capacity is reduced by 10% when our devices are in sight.’ Her next tip – ‘Take your tech temptations off your home-screen and disable your non-essential notifications’. And finally, ‘complete an audit of the technology you are using and then intentionally re-introduce the tools and apps that actually play a functional role in our lives.’

‘Our brains are changing because of our digital dependence.’ Our time and attention are our most valuable commodities. ‘We need to be intentional about what we use, how we use it and when we use technology’ says Kristy. In the corporate world, we are seeing high rates of screen time and, there are a range of cascading consequences. Our mental, physical, emotional and relational health has declined. ‘A permanent digital detox is not the answer’ says Kristy, ‘we need to put in place strategies that allow us to integrate technology in ways that are congruent without biology.’ Use the 20/20/20 rule says Kristy, ‘Every 20 minutes, take a 20- minute break and blink 20 times while focusing on something 20 feet away.’ This, as a start, will help with eye lubrication and focus.

Nomophobia is real. The fear of being away from your device is a form of ‘technostress.’ Reliance on technology can result in phantom vibration syndrome, email apnea, digital dementia and, in our children, techno-tantrums. Kristy’s suggestion – The 3 Bs – Boundaries, Basic needs and Boredom. ‘There is so much research that supports our brains needs for ‘mind-wandering mode’. When we unplug, we turn off our pre-frontal cortex and allow our minds to wander.’ Kristy suggests a simple ritual to ‘book-end your day’, meaning we have a digital detox in both in the morning and evening.

Multi-tasking, as a woman, is not an advantage says Kristy and she shares a personal story of how technology took its toll on her family and, was a real awakening for becoming digitally distracted. So, what is Kristy’s most powerful step forward in terms of creating digital boundaries? ‘The proximity strategy has been a game-changer for me’ says Kristy, ‘not seeing my laptop allows me to take back control’.