319: From Digital Distraction to Digital Wellness: Insights and Strategies for Better Tech Use w/ Dr Kristy Goodwin
I like to think that the real work that I do in the world is to help women get out of “integrity pain”. The very real mental, emotional and even physical pain that results from living life out of alignment with what you truly want for your life.
And one of the things creating a tremendous amount of integrity pain for my clients is their relationship with technology.
We are living in a world that relies on it and we are failing BIG TIME at regulating ourselves around it in a way that honors our body and brain.
So, thank goodness for gems like my guest on this week’s episode of the Grace & Grit podcast, Dr Kristy Goodwin, who has made it her life’s work to help people better understand the neurobiology of our tech use and how to build a relationship with it that helps us nourish our health rather than deplete it.
We cover a LOT of ground in this interview, including:
- Why digital detoxes don’t actually work.
- How to reduce micro-stressors coming from tech use,
- How to increase biological buffers so your body is more resilient to tech use,
- Neuroproductivity principles to improve your relationship with tech,
… and so much more!
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Dr Kristy Goodwin
Having personally experienced how our always-on digital culture is compromising people’s wellbeing and is counter to optimal and sustainable performance, award-winning researcher and speaker Dr Kristy Goodwin is on a mission to promote employee wellbeing and bolster workplace productivity in an always-on digital world.
As one of Australia’s digital wellbeing and productivity experts, she shares practical brain-based hacks to tame tech habits and the latest evidence-based strategies to decode the neurobiology of peak performance in the technological era.reverting to phone bans or constant digital detoxes.
In Dr Kristy’s latest book, Dear Digital, We need to talk. . . she shares how to use technology in ways that are aligned to your neurobiology (how your brain and body are designed to work).
Senior business leaders and HR executives from the country’s top organisations engage Dr Kristy to help them promote employee digital wellbeing and performance. Her roster of clients includes Apple, Deutsche Bank, Bank of Queensland,
Challenger, Westpac, DLA Piper, Westpac, McDonald’s, Westfield, Randstad, the Reserve Bank of Australia, Cuscal, State Street, National Broadband Network and Foxtel.
Are you ready?
Welcome to Grace & Grit.
The Grace & Grit podcast is your go-to resource for reclaiming, generating, protecting and expressing your power as a woman in midlife.
This show will completely change the way you think about health & well-being and help you make your second act the best one yet!
- 343: Midlife Transitions: Navigating the space in between.
- 342: Woman Reignited: Restore Your Personal Power In 24 Hours (or less!)
- 341: The Interplay Between Nervous System Health & Exercise: A conversation w/ Irene Lyon
- 340: Summer Remix Series: When “Loving Yourself” Feels Impossible
- 339: Summer Remix Series: The Call to Own Your Worth
Transcripts are auto-generated.
Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them. Not behind them. Join your host Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.
Courtney Townley 0:28
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. As always, I am so glad you decided to spend a little time with me here today. And if you’re someone who wrestles with your relationship with technology, I think you’re gonna be really glad you tuned in to this episode. And let’s be honest, who in the modern world does not rumble with tech use? We’re using it more than we’d like to be using it. It’s distracting us from things that we say are important to us. It’s creating a lot of information overload, which is then paralyzing us from taking action. So we need help, we need help in establishing a relationship with technology that is nourishing us rather than depleting us.
Courtney Townley 1:22
And thank goodness for people like my guest today, Dr. Kristy Goodwin, who has made it her life’s work to help people better understand the neurobiology behind their technology use and more importantly, how to build a relationship that really fosters wellbeing within our tech use. So Dr. Kristy is not about eliminating technology from your life, because come on, we live in a world that relies very heavily on it. It is not reasonable for most people to eliminate tech from their life. So how do we start forging a relationship that is healthier than the one that we currently have? Well, some of the things that we’re going to cover in this interview today are things like why digital detoxes don’t actually work, how to reduce micro stressors that are coming from technology use, how to increase biological buffers, so your body is actually more resilient to technology use. And we’re going to be talking about neurobiological neuro productivity principles, that Dr. Kristy introduces in her new book called Dear digital, we need to talk. So we’ve got a lot of things to cover a lot of things to unpack. So let’s not waste any more time with this introduction and dive into the interview.
Courtney Townley 3:03
So Dr. Kristy, welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. I can’t tell you how excited I am that you’re here.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 3:09
Oh, likewise, I love a good conversation. Awesome.
Courtney Townley 3:12
Well, I want to share one of the reasons I’m really a fan of your work from the outset. I do a lot of coaching with midlife women who I can see they’re in integrity, pain and integrity, pain is when their actions are misaligned with how they want to be showing up in the world. And I gotta tell you, one of the integrity pain topics that comes up in almost every conversation is the relationship that people have with technology, how much it’s robbing them of the things they really want to be spending time on. So I love that you are here to have this conversation with me about improving our relationship with tech. And before we kind of dive into this, I of course wanna give you the opportunity to tell people a little bit about who you are, and the amazing work that you’re doing in the world.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 4:01
No, that’s very kind. And I will also acknowledge, as I did in my book, I’ve got a really complicated relationship with technology too. Even though I study this, even though I speak about this. Yeah, I don’t have a handle on my phone use my inboxes often bulging, I’m often multitasking. So I don’t live in some sort of digital utopia where I have this dialed in and nailed in the book. I say, my relationship with my phone is complicated. It’s a little bit like the relationship I have with my husband, hard to live with at times couldn’t imagine living without it. I mean him. And yeah, as always turned on. It’s a bit cheeky, but it is so true.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 4:40
And I think it speaks to exactly what you were alluding to, you know, technology has got its tendrils into every part of our lives, both professionally and personally. And we know we need to use it. It’s not about doing a digital detox. It’s not about canceling a Netflix subscription or giving up social media. It’s all about how can we use technology And so I’m a digital wellbeing researcher, speaker, and author. And I’m just fascinated with how our brains and bodies operate in the digital world, I have studied neuroscience and psychology and the intersection with technology. And I was a teacher for 14 years before becoming an academic and a speaker. And it wasn’t until I realized that my preliminary research was done around kids and teens and the impact Tech was having on them. And I think every adult WAGs their finger and says, kids today, you know, they’re addicted, they can’t put it down.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 5:33
But I don’t think we have paused as adults to examine our complicated relationship with technology. And so it wasn’t until my middle son had a very serious accident when I was digitally distracted, that I realized that this problem had landed in my backyard. I didn’t have a handle on this, even though I researched this, even though I speak about this, and his serious accident required him to be hospitalized. And that was the catalyst for me to say, look, we’re all struggling with this. There’s no rulebook, there’s no one who’s telling us how to figure out how to operate in this landscape. So that’s where it really where I stepped in. And I almost see myself like a conduit between the research and science, but making it really practical and realistic.
Courtney Townley 6:16
Yeah, and I love, I love all of that. I especially love your just humanity and your realness. And you really open the book with that, just saying, like, Hey, we are all human, including myself, I don’t have this all figured out. But I do understand the neurobiology. And I have developed some tips and strategies that you do a beautiful job of sharing in the book. And so I just want to say here now from the outset, that I have followed you on social media for a while, in fact, I think I found you on LinkedIn initially. And when I found out that you publish this book, and especially when I saw the title, I was like I’m in, I’ve gotta get this book. And so the title is, dear digital, we need to talk a guilt free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a distracted world.
Courtney Townley 7:02
And I shared this with you before we hit record, but I really truly loved the book. And I really think that everyone who listens to the Grace & Grit Podcast, because they’re all looking for ways to improve their wellness would benefit from definitely reading this book. It is funny, it is relatable. It’s very informative, in terms of understanding the science behind our complex relationship with our digital addictions. And it’s so helpful, there are just so many strategies. And obviously, you know, you say this, at the end of the book, The intention is not to overwhelm people, but give them a lot of options to try on to see what works for them. And that’s so lovely.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 7:44
I’m going to try not to cry, I’m a I’m a chronic crier. I’ve got three sons, and they love it. They look at me, because boys don’t read facial cues as well as females, and they’re like, happy, sad or frustrated tears, Mum, and are they just truly humbling words? So thank you for sharing that it means a lot. You know, for me, the book still feels like a very long word document on my computer. So what I have read it or taken something from it, it’s still I must admit feels surreal. So I’m deeply humbled and touched by what you just said. So thank you.
Courtney Townley 8:18
The Yeah, and it’s so timely, right, because I feel like we really have sort of hit this brick wall with technology, especially post COVID, where we were so engaged with technology, and a lot of businesses moved online. And a lot of people were seeking social interaction through their online connections. And all of that was well and good for at the times we were living in. And now on the other side, we can see the mental health implications. And we can see that people are rumbling with how to improve that relationship.
Courtney Townley 8:50
So I want to be clear, because I think this is really important that you are not anti digital. And in fact, the way you say it your book, which is so brilliant, you say that you don’t recommend that people digitally amputate themselves. What you are for, is really teaching people ways of working with technology that honors their brain and their body. So can you speak to that a little bit? What is that? How, how do we start embarking on that? And what might we need to understand about the brain and the body to put ourselves in better relationship with tech?
Dr Kristy Goodwin 9:25
Sure. So I think what you’re alluding to then was I’m describing it as the digital hangover. I think that during the pandemic, we became so digitally reliant professionally and personally, you know, the online world was our conduit for connection. It was the way we worked. It was the way we socialized if we had kids, that was the way they did their learning and connected. And so I think we all acknowledge we all probably spent an inordinate amount of time online during the pandemic out of necessity, and there’s nothing wrong with that. research suggested that the average adult was spending around 13.28 hours a day be online during lockdown periods, waiting an ordinate amount of time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 10:05
And so what I think has happened is that we have retained some of those unhealthy digital habits. And like any habit, they’re often hard to break. For adults, though we often justify our digital behaviors under the guise of I need it for work, or I just need to check emails, or I just did often preempt the statement that follows. And what I think is happening is that we are using technology, both professionally and personally in ways that are completely incongruent, completely misaligned with how we’re designed as humans. And I call that a biological blueprint. As humans, we have some basic biological principles. And I think two things are happening at the same time. The first thing that I think is happening is that our tech habits have added some little micro stressors to our days now on their own, these micro stressors would be really harmless, they’d be benign. I’m talking here about things like alerts, notifications, video calls, multitasking, working for long stretches of time, all of those things are quite harmless. But what’s happening is our day is perpetually filled with these micro stressors. And as humans, we are actually biologically designed to cope with stress. But we are designed to cope with short intervals of stress. And we are designed to resolve the stress cycle.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 11:22
But today in our always on digitally demanding world where we go from one virtual meeting to our inbox back to social media, to WhatsApp notifications, is we are being peppered with these micro stresses. So that’s the first thing there’s a whole lot of little micro stresses permeating our days. The second thing that I think is happening at the same time, is that our tech habits have often in very strange ways, and often in ways that we haven’t even thought of eroded some of the biological buffers that we used to naturally have baked into our days that helped us manage stress, and our focused attention, things like sleep, physical movement, sunlight, even the way that we breathe, believe it or not, is being altered by our screens. So I think it’s the collision of these two factors, we’ve got an increase in micro stressors. And at the same time, we’ve seen a decline in these biological buffers. And this is why so many people are saying they’re distracted, they’re overwhelmed. They’re exhausted, and if not burnt out. And I think, now is the time we need to remedy this because technology is not going away. Whether you love it or loathe it. It is here to stay. So it’s all about how can we build sustainable, healthy and productive relationships with our beloved digital appendages?
Courtney Townley 12:38
Yeah, absolutely. And I love you know, you, you talked a little bit about the nervous system in the book and how these micro stressors compounded really disrupt the nervous system, and kind of put us in that constant state of fight or flight, which sodas modern day culture, right? The Hustle culture at everything we’re contending with. And then you put technology on top of it. And it’s just making everything that much more amplified. And the other thing that you had mentioned was even this, the simplicity of the pinging, and the dinging, and this sort of alarms that are telling us that these messages are waiting, is kind of an insult to the nervous system is putting us in that hyperdrive mode. So I do love that you bring all these things up. And the thing I want to say about breath, because I really appreciated that you brought this up that physiological sigh. Will you speak to that a little bit about because you mentioned that the way that we use tech can affect our breath patterns. And I think certainly breath is being talked a lot more about in the wellness world. So you just talked about how being in front of tech for long periods without a break influences our breathing patterns.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 13:50
Yes. So I think the way many people relate to as I often say, I do suffer from a condition called Email apnea. We have it has been studied physiologically. And when people go into their inboxes, often what happens is they hold their breath, you know, we dread who has contacted me if I got that tricky client or colleague demanding that I reply to them, you know, what’s going to hit me what’s the barrage of digital distractions coming my way. And so our heart rate accelerates, our pupils dilate, our cortisol levels increase, so we have a stress response. The other thing that we know and this is from relatively new research is that when we are looking at a screen and it doesn’t matter if it’s your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, when we are looking at a screen, our sigh rate drops.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 14:37
Now as humans we tend to sigh when we’re awake roughly every five minutes, and it’s our body’s basic biological mechanism to to help us regulate our stress response. It basically regulates the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. But when we are looking at our screens, we don’t see as much. So what does this tell us? We’re often holding our breath or we’re breathing in In a really shallow way, and that often triggers the stress response. Now, this is further compounded that when we’re looking at a screen, we tend to have a very, very narrow view, our eyes are looking at a relatively small surface area. Now biologically, when we have a very narrow view, it triggers our brain into thinking that there is a potential stressful because years gone by when there was a stress, or we would hone in on whatever the potential threat or danger was, yeah, this is why you know, when we are in that focus mode, we stand up from our computer, the glass of water near our keyboard we knock over because we shut off our peripheral vision, we’ve literally hone all our resources into that narrow gaze. So it, it triggers a stress response. And so this is what’s happening.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 15:45
Again, we’re often not even aware that we’re doing this. And this elevated stress state has a huge impact on our physical health, on our mental well being and on our performance. And so in the book, and Professor Andrew Huberman talks a lot about logical size. And there have been countless studies done that shows that one of the quickest ways to regulate our stress response, a response that doesn’t require any equipment, you don’t need a yoga mat, you don’t need complicated strategies, is to sigh like being more intentionally attack intentional about sighing and sighing is simply to inhalation through our nose, and an exhalation through our mouth.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 16:25
And the good news is you only need to do a few cycles of that, and it will regulate your nervous system. So the good news is, you can do it on your zoom calls, just make sure you’re muted. So when you’re exhaling your colleagues or your family members, don’t hear your ex exhalation, that there are simple, really pragmatic things we can do to take back control. And I guess be more proactive at protecting those biological buffers. So sighing, believe it or not, is one of the most scientifically validated ways to bring us back from a higher level of stress.
Courtney Townley 16:57
Yes, I love the way you explain that. And it’s so powerful. I’ve been using ever since I heard Huberman kind of bring it up, been practicing the physiological side more intentionally, because I do spend a lot of time in front of my computer, but also because I public speak a lot because I have and I get nervous, right when I have to give a presentation or I’m doing something that matters to me. And that sigh really seems to just stabilize me and decompress me and root me, which I really appreciate it. Yeah, go ahead, please.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 17:27
So I was just going to add vocalizing the sign again, if you’re doing it on a video or a team’s call, make sure you’re muted, but actually vocalizing that the exhalation activates your vagus nerve. So again, can have a really calming restorative effect relatively quickly. So there are simple things that we can do. And I think we’ve forgotten I often say, as humans, we’re really not that complicated. We, you know, we have basic biological needs, we need to sleep, we need to connect with others, we need to move, we need to eat and drink, really, and we need some sunlight and to breathe. But yeah, Tech has, has infiltrated all of those needs. And so it’s about us going back to what are our most basic biological needs, and being more strategic about fiercely protecting those?
Courtney Townley 18:10
Yeah, it’s so it’s so beautiful. And it’s so beautifully aligned with everything we talked about on this show, which is this 50th reason I’m so excited I brought you on here. But I was gonna share with you that I was recently at the dentist. And she was talking about how kind of my bite on one side especially, is a little bit more pronounced. And it’s kind of, you know, messing up my jawline a little bit. And she asked me pointedly if I was working a lot on the computer. And I of course, said yes.
Courtney Townley 18:39
And she said, you’re probably gritting your teeth, like you’re either grinding your teeth or you’re clenching your jaw. And you need to be much more aware of how you’re holding your mouth if you want to prevent further damage. So I mean, the consequences we pay are so far reaching, right beyond the distraction of our life and taking attention off the things we really care about. There’s these real physiological consequences that we’re paying for too much screen time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 19:09
Yeah, and I love that you shared that. That’s a very common thing. Anecdotally, from health professionals. I’m hearing this a lot of chiropractors and osteopaths and physiotherapists are really concerned about a term that I use called technic, when people’s muscular skeletal system is being shaped by our hunched over postures. So again, I don’t know if we’re yet seeing the long term impacts of our tech infatuation. But I think we’re just at the beginning stages. And this is why it’s just so important that we develop, again, not giving up tech, it’s not about cutting off your Wi Fi and removing it completely, but it’s all about, again, just making small little adjustments. I call them micro habits, but just small little things we can do to start to use the tech that’s now so important in our lives, but in ways that is aligned with how we are designed as humans.
Courtney Townley 20:00
So I want to get into these micro habits because you have a beautiful way of sort of organizing them. But before I do, can I ask you, are you standing up right now? To do an interview with? Are you standing or sitting up standing? You’re standing? Yeah, so am I. And it’s one of my micro habits, that I, I just like my whole energy changes when I stand up. So when I’m coaching, when I’m teaching, I’m always on my feet. So I just wanted to say that I appreciate that because I don’t know a lot of people who stand when I’m interviewing them, oh,
Dr Kristy Goodwin 20:28
I’m pleased, I thought you were asking me, I thought I may have moved and cut my head off in the angle of
Courtney Townley 20:36
God, it’s because of exactly what we’re talking about. It’s something that we can do to change our physiology.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 20:42
Yeah. And one thing that we know, again, a way of tech habits are impacting us that we possibly haven’t even considered yet, is that even if we meet, so global recommendations for physical movement is around 150. Some countries, it’s 180 minutes per week, of what we usually call zone to cardio, so any sort of physical activity where you become a little bit breathless, it would be hard to have a conversation.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 21:03
So it might be a walk, it might be a run, jog, or a bike ride. And if 45 class, something that increases your heart rate, so 150 to roughly 180 minutes per week are the sort of global guidelines, even if we hit that target, if we are sedentary for more than five hours a day, which let’s face it, that is very easy to amass, you could amass that, you know, before you have your lunch break at work, or a knowledge worker. So if that is the case, you completely nullify the benefits acquired from that zone to cardio. Now, the good news is before people panic and say, you know, I can barely get the 150 to 180 minutes, what can I do, you’re not going to tell me I need to increase that to 300 or 360.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 21:46
No, the good news is still do that zone to cardio. But if you intersperse physical movement throughout your day, and it could be a between sort of three and four, basically 10 minute walk. So walking to the local coffee shop, getting off the bus, you know, one stop earlier and walking the extra distance to the office or home, those three to four extra 10 minute walks can be enough to compensate that sedentary behavior. The other really important thing like we’re doing now is to oscillate between sitting and standing. And you don’t need a an expensive standing desks. They’re great if you’ve got one. But I have seen some very, very clever people with upturned laundry baskets, with piles of books as with all sorts of contractions, so that they can just elevate where they’re working. And it has a huge impact on your well being but also your energy and your performance as well.
Courtney Townley 22:38
Yeah, it’s so important. And I love that you brought that up. So I do want to highlight that in the book you talk about before you get into the micro habits, which there are a lot of them. I think there’s like 36 or 36. They’re out well. That number stuck out in my head. I was like that. Well, when I finished the book, I was like, Oh, we just went through 36 Micro habits. That’s awesome.
Courtney Townley 22:57
. But before you got into the micro habits, you made a point of saying, look, a lot of people are doing these digital detoxes. And this is not really the path to sustainable behavior change. And I really appreciate that you bring this up, because to me, it’s kind of the equivalent of an extreme diet when we do something for a week or a month. But then we haven’t really develop sustainable habits for the aftermath. And that’s what I think really differentiates your micro habits from the digital detoxes that people may be used to going on. So we just speak to that maybe a little bit about why the digital detox isn’t really as effective.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 23:35
Yes. And whilst it looks like a tempting solution, a detox or digital detox often creates what we call a binge and purge cycle. So I go offline for a few days, I go on holidays where there’s no Wi Fi, but I come back. And after my annual leave, or my weekend away to a barrage of emails and messages. The reality is that technology is essential for most everyday lives now. Now, I’m not saying we need to be tethered to it all the time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 24:03
But again, when we go on holidays, we might need to use the Maps app, we might need to do a review of the local restaurants. And so I think we’ve got to develop a reframe about how we see technology, we have to learn to live with it. The other thing of the why I say digital detoxes aren’t effective is because the research actually shows that they don’t work. What ends up happening, as I said, is that binge and purge cycle and In one study, they had one group who did the typical detox, they had another group who just reduced their social media use by an hour a day and they compared the groups over time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 24:38
And what they found was at the end of the study, four months after it had concluded the group that did the digital detox pretty much went back to their pre intervention ways their their habits crept back in it resulted in no sustainable change. But the group that just reduced their screen use by an hour a day, whilst they weren’t necessarily doing an hour less was substantially spend much less time on their social media applications. So I think it speaks to the point of how we need to reduce it, not necessarily eliminate it, because that whole concept of digitally amputating yourself often makes us feel even more stressed. And it almost I think this is when I talk with parents, this is why phone bands, I don’t think are the solution because it becomes the forbidden fruit like we wanted, when we can’t have it. So how do we learn to live with it?
Courtney Townley 25:31
It’s interesting, when I talk about sugar with clients, I always talk about who’s leading the dance? Is it the sugar leading the dance? Or are you leading? And I think this can be applied absolutely to technology? Is technology in control? Or are you in control. And that’s really what I hear you teaching people. And it’s so clear in your book, that you’re really teaching people how to lead the dance with technology.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 25:53
I totally love that analogy. I love that.
Courtney Townley 25:57
So let’s talk about the micro habits. And let’s start by maybe talking about the different neuro productivity principles that you introduce in the book, because you can categorize these into four different groups. And then maybe we could speak a little bit to each one
Dr Kristy Goodwin 26:12
show. So I structured the book in a way, where I do a lot of speaking work. And I talk about how that I believe there’s four pillars of peak performance in a digital age. The first pillar is that we have to establish borders and boundaries. Again, both professionally and personally, we have to have some parameters, we have to communicate what I call our tech expectations to others. But we have to we have to clearly create those boundaries. Because if not, tech comes with us everywhere. And in the book I talk about, you know, we have become so digitally dependent that people are now toilet tweeting, like literally using their smartphones in the bathroom. People are suffering from nomophobia fear of not having their mobile phone in close proximity. So it’s impacting us. So that’s the first pillar.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 27:02
The second pillar is around what I call neuro productivity techniques. So this is all about how can we start to use technology in ways that works for our brain and our body, tying it back into our biological blueprint. So for example, I talked with some of the micro habits I talked about working in Sprint’s not marathons, or I think I refer to them as digital dashes. How we are designed to basically work in an interval kind of pattern where we work and then have a recovery period bit like an athlete work and then have a recovery period. The third pillar is all around digital distractions. So we know that the ping of an email or a social media alert or notification is really deadly to our productivity, when we are distracted. It takes the average adult 23 minutes and 15 seconds to reorient their attention now doesn’t take them 23 minutes to restart after the distraction.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 27:57
But to get back into that deep focus state takes around 23 minutes. Just think about your average day and think about the number of digital distractions that permeate your day. And I’ll point out it’s not just digital distractions, any distraction is deadly to your performance. It’s just that digital distractions have become so commonplace now. And the fourth pillar, I think, is probably the most important. But I’m also going to acknowledge, I also think it’s one of the hardest ones to achieve. And that is why we need to unplug for rest and recovery, we have to switch off we are not designed to keep going and going and going and working for long stretches and being plugged in all of the time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 28:36
I don’t know about you, Courtney. But I’ve never had a great idea in my inbox, or in an Excel spreadsheet. Now great ideas or solutions to complex problems land when I’m in the shower when I’m going for a run or swimming in the ocean. And we often don’t have the pockets of whitespace we used to have, you know, we used to get on the bus and sit there and daydream mind wander. But today we get on the bus and we pull out our phone, we wait for our coffee. And while we wait, we pull out our digital device. So they’re the four pillars. And I think we need to really focus on each of those to really thrive in this digital world.
Courtney Townley 29:13
Absolutely. But yeah, it really helped my brain for you to kind of break those down in the book. And then to really give so many examples for different micro habits that you could try on in these areas. I will tell you in the realm of the DIS disabling digital distractions, you had recommended the grayscale. And I have to read this because this made me laugh out loud. You said when Steve Jobs released the first iPod Touch, he said that he had designers make the app icons so physiologically appealing that users would want to lick their screens. Yes, lick their screens.
Courtney Townley 29:53
But honestly, like it makes so much sense that and you said this that the a lot of technology He is designed kind of like gambling arenas right where we’re like just drawn in to keep going and gamify it and want to crave it and hunger for it. And that grayscale piece for me, I was really surprised at how effective it was that looking at a gray scaled phone was a very different experience for my brain than looking at the colored screen. And so anyway, I just wanted to share that because that that was really powerful.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 30:28
And I love such a simple strategy we can implement like, it’s so simple a couple of steps, and you don’t need to turn your phone permanently to grayscale when you know you’re going to succumb to the digital distractions. Switching it to grayscale I will vouch Instagram is very boring in black and white, so boring. But again, it’s simple mechanics like that, that get us sucked into the digital vortex, you know, it’s no accident that our notification bubble is usually read. Read is a psychological association with danger, urgency and importance, you know, the fact that our notification bubble usually has a number in it declaring how many unread emails or Notifications we have. So there’s all these very persuasive techniques that have been applied to really suck us into that digital vortex. Oh, it’s
Courtney Townley 31:16
so true. And I have to say I very much appreciated at the end of all of these micro habits that you introduced, you walk us through a day in your life of like kind of the process, right as you were writing this book, some of the digital habits that you committed to. And it really kind of brought it all together. I mean, you didn’t apply all 36 habits, because that’s not the objective for anyone. But you did pull out a few and layer them into your life. So we could really see like what a structured way of doing this might look like. So I thought that was just a really great way to kind of wrap up the wrap up the book.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 31:56
Thank you. I’m so glad you said that. And if my publisher is listening, I added that in. So we had done all the edits of the book, I had submitted it ready to be sent off literally to the printers. And I emailed the publisher and said I need to add a section at the end. And they were not particularly happy with my last minute inclusion, but I managed to convince them. And it’s so interesting, I’m hearing from lots of people that they’ve found that really helpful, I guess concretizing practically making it relevant to us. So I’m so pleased that you found that too.
Courtney Townley 32:30
And I think that’s exactly it, it just it I could see myself in that day. And you know, kind of compare like, oh, okay, I see how she’s working in 90 minute intervals. And I see how she’s spreading out the deep work versus the shallow work. And she’s, you know, applying all the things that you had had layered into the book. So anyway, brilliant. And I do want to talk to you a little bit about because I know I have a lot of parents and grandparents who listen to the show.
Courtney Townley 32:56
And I think one of the rumbles we all have, obviously, we can’t even regulate ourselves around technology. But then we’re leading these little humans through the world, and being really frustrated with their inability to regulate their own use of technology. And I know you’ve done a lot of work around children and teenagers. And so I would just love for you to speak to that a little bit in terms of, first of all, you’re a mother of three boys. So yes, this is a very real issue for you. And so what are some things that you would say to parents, or even caretakers of children, people who are obviously around children and influencing children, to help them make more of an impact on this in this realm? Yeah, so
Dr Kristy Goodwin 33:43
I’m going to start by saying it’s, and this is why I wrote this book, because I think we have to get this right as adults. And as you acknowledge, were the leaders. Yeah. And I worry, we’re not being good digital role models, you know, we’ve been quick to wag our fingers and say, our kids and teens are addicted and they can’t put it down. But we’re often yelling that from behind our phone or the little now laptop. And we know that the human brain has something in it called mirror neurons. And mirror neurons mean as humans we are biologically designed to imitate and emulate. So we can tell our kids to switch off, put it away, don’t be distracted by it. But if we’re not exemplifying that ourselves and embodying that, then they imitate what we see. You know, this is why we’ve got toddlers who are swiping at magazines and you know, trying to turn the pages on any screen that they come across.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 34:30
So my message to parents and caregivers is this that we have to be the pilot for kids age sort of zero to 12 years, I really believe we have to sit in the pilot seat of the digital plane. If we’ve got adolescence I suggest that we sit alongside our kids and be the co pilot of the plane. And if we are the pilot of the plane, we have to follow three B’s the first B is that we have to create borders and boundaries a bit like us as adults. We need as a family to come up with what I call our families digital guardrails, we need to set limits not on our kids, but with our kids. And we need to be having far more nuanced conversations than what we’re having. The idea of screen time is not the only metric of safe technology use, we’ve got to talk and have boundaries around what they do. And when they can use it, where can they use it with whom, and for how long, most certainly. So the first B is boundaries.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 35:25
The second need is a second D is that we have to fiercely protect their basic needs, we have to make sure that their time online isn’t eroding, or displacing the most basic physical and psychological needs things like sleep, physical movement, human connection. And the last V is that we need to allow kids to be bored, we need to get them to become accustomed to being idle with their thoughts. And not always being placated with a screen or soothe with a screen, to sit with uncomfortable big emotions to sit with being idle with their thoughts. So they’re the three B’s boundaries, basic needs, and boredom. And I think if we get those things, right, again, it’s not about taking away the technology or confiscating it, or digitally amputating them, it’s about giving them the skills to use it, but use it in ways that helps them rather than harms them.
Courtney Townley 36:15
Love is so powerful. And I really appreciate the point about being bored, because I think again, as adults, that is becoming a lost art. And again, it we’re suffering with our well being, because we are okay with not having so much to do. And so we can’t solve problems, we can’t do you know, internal reflection, and life just becomes one big distraction? Yes.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 36:40
So I think everything you mentioned there is relevant to us. Yeah, it is about weight weight, as you said, we struggle, a shared in the book and a study that was done with adults who were asked to sit in a room to be bored for between 10 and 15 minutes, they had to prematurely end the study, because many of the adults in this study showed signs of psychological distress, they couldn’t handle being bored for 10 to 15 minutes. In iterations of the study, they gave the participants the option of self administering an electric shock. What resulted was that a significant proportion 67% of males and 24% of females gave themselves an electric shock in lieu of being bored. We have literally lost the art of being idle with our thoughts. And this is really important for all of us.
Courtney Townley 37:26
Yeah, I don’t know, if you ever read the book, The comfort crisis, by my sister, you’d probably really appreciate it. But she talks a lot about boredom. And just that, you know that it’s we have to get back to improving our relationship with boredom. Because even like you alluded to earlier, so many of our creative ideas, and our problem solving comes in those moments, where we’re not really in front of the screen or being distracted by Netflix, and all the other things that are at our disposal.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 37:57
So true, such an important skill, but one that’s hard to sell when we can be instantly gratified, you know, I can wait in lines at the supermarket and pull out my phone. And I think, again, because we’ve got mirror neurons, and we see everybody else doing it. And because it’s you know, our phones are a gateway for novelty. Like everything’s new and exciting, you know, standing there in a queue is really boring. Like it’s tedious. So, yeah, I think we’ve become very quick to pluck out ourselves with those devices.
Courtney Townley 38:28
One other thing that I want to mention, because I think it’s so important for listeners of the show, and and you’ve mentioned it in the book is technology is also overwhelming the brain. In fact, there was a study you mentioned that I really just was drawn to, which is the estimated that in 2011, Americans were consuming five times as much information as they did in 1986. And this is the equivalent of 174 newspapers every day. That’s how much information in 2011 I can’t even imagine what the numbers are now. And that the brain has not evolved at that pace.
Courtney Townley 39:11
So the brain literally just can’t take in that amount of information. And I’m imagining it perceives that as a threat, right, like when we’re bombarding the brain with all that information all the time. We certainly aren’t doing it any favors in terms of showing up to help us take action around the things that we want to be doing.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 39:30
Yeah, and we do have some data around what it is today. So recent estimates suggest that the average adult is consuming around 74 gigabytes worth of data a day. But that is pardon the pun mind blowing that in the book, I use the term info obesity, and it’s this idea that we are being just bombarded with an insane amount of information alerts, notifications, social media, news sites, emails, television consumption. All of this is data that our brains consuming The part of our brain that is the memory center, it’s called our hippocampus, our hippocampus has not grown to accommodate this extra increase in information that we are being bombarded with.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 40:11
So I also use a term I didn’t coined this term, but this has been studied a phenomenon they’re calling digital dementia. This this concept that we just can’t remember as much as what we used to do, basically, because we are being peppered with too much information, or sometimes use the analogy of saying, it’s like getting a little plastic cup, and holding that plastic cup and expecting to catch the water coming out of a fire hydrant, like you just get tiny little bits. And it’s overflowing. And so I often say something that people listeners may relate to is, if you’ve got info obesity, if you’re struggling with it, you feel like you are the emoji of the head exploding. Do you know the head that looks like it’s, that’s what modern day for life feels like? Because we are just being saturated? With superfluous information.
Courtney Townley 40:58
Yeah, it’s so true. So any like words, anything you want to wrap up with in terms of takeaway messages, or things that you would just really want seared on the brain of the listener? Yeah, before we close this up,
Dr Kristy Goodwin 41:13
I want to finish with a story that I share in that at the end of the book, and this is a is such a powerful story. And I don’t say it to make us feel guilty to make us feel wrong. We have to take back control of technology, because as you said, Courtney, if we don’t take back control, it controls us we are slaves to our screens. And so in the book, I share a story. A in Australia here in Sydney, a young woman who was a journalist, a television television producer, was walking to get her morning coffee, she had her ear pods in and was having a meeting, she wasn’t looking at her phone. But she had the ear pods in, she stepped into the path of an oncoming truck, and was tragically killed. Leaving behind two young sons and a loving husband, just through one form of being distracted. We just don’t get this time back.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 42:04
And the tech we all use it love has been engineered to rob us of our time and our attention. And so if we are not being strategic, if we are not being intentional about how we use technology, I think we could potentially get to the end of our life and regret the amount of time that we’re spending. In Australia, a study was done where it was estimated the average adult will spend the equivalent of 17 years of their life on their phone, I would imagine in the US and internationally, we would see similar results, that is an inordinate amount of time that we’re giving away. And so my message is to say to people take back control, certainly use technology, but use it in a way that will help you to thrive in this digital world.
Courtney Townley 42:50
Yeah, man, I again, so appreciate all the work that you’re doing in the world. Because it is you can imagine, because I’m sure you rumble with this too as it as a person who is internet based with their company with their message with getting clients and sharing the work. It’s something I’m always at odds with, you know, I, I am coaching women every day on their rumble with tech. And then I’m encouraging them to get on tech to come hang out with me and learn from me. And I listen to the Podcast and all the things. And so I just cannot express enough how just reassuring it is to hear that look. It’s not about living without. It’s learning how to live with and in a way that again, respects the brain and the body and doesn’t make us finish our life with regret for how we spent our time.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 43:48
I’m truly humbled again, by what you said. They’re really kind words, and I deeply appreciate you acknowledging that I love what I do. I feel like it’s my work. I feel like this is what and that’s a blessing in and of itself to do work that you’re passionate about that really does, I believe make a difference. And I hope that if even if there’s just one micro habit you take out of this episode, just making small adjustments over time can have a really profound impact. So I hope that has been helpful.
Courtney Townley 44:18
Yeah, and that is the message that we tout loudly on the show is always just those micro movements, you know, really compound over time, and within six months within a year. It’s amazing how different your life can look if you’re willing to be consistent about applying some of these things. Yeah, so once again, listeners the name of the book Dear Digital, We need to talk… A guilt free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a distracted world. Dr. Kristy Goodwin, I cannot thank you enough for being here today. I so appreciate you. And this was awesome.
Dr Kristy Goodwin 44:51
Thank you right back at you.
Courtney Townley 45:00
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