Ideas for unplugging and improving your holiday spirit.

family unplugging wellbeing Dec 03, 2018

The holidays are supposed to be a blissful time of year but many people find themselves feeling stressed, isolated and sad. Our relationship with technology can contribute to this holiday malaise, given the amount of time we spend online and distracted. I wish we could change this just by saying “put your phone away and do something else” but I know that can be a struggle for some. If you find that’s the case, here are some activities that can reduce stress, strengthen your connection with others and hopefully bring you some joy during the festive season. You might need your devices to help organize some of them but all the good stuff happens offline. Happy holidays!

Wander for a While

We try to cram in so much in December that we end up racing from place to place and rushing all the time. How about taking time out for a walk? It doesn’t have to be long—10 minutes or more out of your day (or night). There should be no agenda, nothing to achieve except...

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What would you give up to keep your smartphone?

wellbeing Oct 12, 2018

Do you ever think about your relationship with your smartphone? We think about our how we interact with others, such as our partner, children, co-workers, etc. We consider those relationships often, with an understanding that they can significantly impact our health and well-being.  Just look at all the number of articles, books and services on the subject. We usually know when those relationships are good for us and when they are not. But what about our smartphones?

I’ve interviewed people about their relationship with their phones and they’ve said things like “it’s a love/hate thing", "it has taken hold of me", "I panic if it’s not with me", "I wish I didn’t need it" and "I’m highly dependent on it.” If this was a friend of yours describing their relationship with someone else, I bet you’d be concerned and want to help them. But it’s just their phone, so we don’t consider it a problem.

So, how do you feel about...

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Will the new features in Appleā€™s iOS 12 fix our screen obsession?

tools unplugging wellbeing Jun 22, 2018

In case you haven’t heard yet, Apple held its annual developers’ conference in early June. They announced some new features in iOS 12, which launches this Fall, that will “help you limit distractions, focus, and understand how you're spending your time," according to Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering. But how much can they really help, given our current obsession with screens?

The new features include a tool called Screen Time—a dashboard that will provide data on your iPhone and iPad usage. It will show you how much time you spend on each individual app and across various categories of apps, both daily and weekly. You will also see how many notifications you received and how many times you picked up your device. It will even allow you to set daily limits on how much time you want to spend on specific apps.

Apple is also improving the Do Not Disturb feature. You will be able to block calls, texts and notifications from everyone except your VIP list,...

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Is your digital diet as healthy as the food you eat?

wellbeing Jun 04, 2018

If you’re like me, you put some thought and effort into the food you eat. I eat a lot of whole foods, with little to no processing. I make a conscious effort to eat fruits and vegetables often, and I try to stick with healthy, lean proteins. Most of the fats I eat are healthy fats and I avoid artificial additives as much as possible. Sure, I have the occasional indulgence—like buttered popcorn or, one of my favourites, a piece of dark chocolate. But I lead an active lifestyle and limit the amount of sugar in my diet. So, I’m completely comfortable with some treats mixed in with all the healthy food I consume. After all, while I try to fuel my body with foods that nourish me, I also want to enjoy life and not feel deprived.

I’ve been mindful about what I feed my body for many years, knowing how important it is. And yet, until a year and a half ago, I had never really stopped to consider what I feed my mind. But since then I have done a lot of research about...

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Do you think device-free social spaces are needed?

A local coffee shop has been getting a lot of attention due to their recently imposed weekend laptop ban. The owner cites two reasons for such severe measures. The first being a lack of seating for patrons during their busiest days, which results in lost revenue for the cafe. The second being the antisocial environment created by a room full of individuals wearing headsets and staring at screens for hours at a time. In addition to the ban, the cafe is also limiting use of their Wi-Fi to a half-hour per customer per purchase. Not surprisingly, these changes are receiving mixed reviews from customers.

Restaurants and cafes have been navigating the positives and negatives of our growing digital connectivity for a number of years. On the one hand, the popularity of sharing food and décor photos on social media has helped many establishments grow their business. However, the realities of our device-obsessed culture has also impacted the experience of customers and staff alike in a...

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How using your digital devices can impact the health of others.

You know how horrible and harmful secondhand smoke is? Even if you’re not the person smoking, it’s been scientifically proven how badly you are affected when you are near someone who is. Well, it looks like technology is also having a negative impact on the people around us when we’re glued to our digital devices. Now, before you call me crazy, let me clarify—not all the effects are physically dangerous. Some are merely annoying but many can actually be harmful from a mental health standpoint.

Most people have heard of the term phubbing by now. It refers to snubbing someone when you’re paying attention to your phone instead of the person you’re with. Sadly, it’s become quite common, to the point where we expect it to happen quite regularly. But it’s a still an unpleasant experience to feel alone while in the company of others. This behaviour has been proven to impact the self-esteem of the person being phubbed, leaving them annoyed,...

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The impact of technology on our kids.

family wellbeing Aug 24, 2017

There is no denying that our digital world is impacting our children. But what is up for debate is whether the consequences are good or bad. Opinions differ widely among researchers, educators, parents and other caregivers. Two articles recently published offer interesting yet different points-of-view on the subject of technology and how it affects kids. This is a healthy debate and one I hope grows in audience and scope. However, I think it is also important to talk about how to effectively manage technology across generations, as it becomes more pervasive in our every day.

The first article, published in The Atlantic, set off alarm bells for many readers. The author, Jean M. Twenge, identified a group she called iGen which includes those born between 1995 and 2012. She states that this group is “…on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades” and that “much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.” Her analysis of the teenage...

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