Online Course: Wellness in the Digital Age

Wellness in the Digital Age – A free mini course

This is my first designed self-paced mini-course developed using academic theories and principles while a student at Algonquin College. This is the prerequisite course for Blogging as a Healing Modality (covering WordPress, YouTube, Canva, Pinterest) currently under development. This mini-course can be taken as a stand-alone and is recommended for adopting as a digital stewardship if blogging is of interest to you. Course will take about 2 hours to complete including the readings, videos and activities.

By the end of this mini-course, you should be able to complete the following:

  • Establish body position to prevent occupational injuries while using technology
  • Identify digital use implications to better balance your technology use
  • Explain how blogging can reduce stress through story telling
  • Explain how vlogging can improve cognitive function
  • Apply holistic therapies to relieve tension from technology use

Please note: TalentLMS has removed the free course option and I am no longer able to provide access to this. You can find the course core content below.


Why I made this mini-course

After a series of digital use injuries (back pain, tendonitis, vertigo, eye strain, anxiety), I studied a range of holistic therapies to help bring balance to my digital work. Now, as a certified healing arts practitioner, this mini-course introduces forest bathing, reflexology, reiki and yoga to bring relief to the mind and body to offset the stressors that technology can bring. After practicing these therapies for 5 years, I am now balancing my digital use in a more productive and sustainable way, and I hope to help others do the same.


Introduction

Wellness in the digital age has become paramount as there are concerning mental and physical implications from using technology. Digital use pertains to hardware: computers, mobile phones, iPads/tablets, and the software they support on those devices that involve scrolling, typing, mousing, and texting. It’s imperative that before you set out on a digital project, that you establish technology stewardship over yourself and utilize holistic tools to counter the negative implications that technology use may have on you. 

Too much of anything will bring about imbalance in the body and so this module supersedes the technology learning modules ahead, so that you can equip yourself with the proper knowledge of keeping yourself safe when using digital technologies. This module will not go into major detail about privacy and ethicality but it’s a good idea to follow some important rules: do not publish your personal phone number, address, social security number or any other pertinent identification on the Internet as this is a risk for identify theft and overall safety of your whereabouts. If you wish to remain completely hidden from search engines then you can keep your work private.

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology”. – Marshall McLuhan (Canadian Communication Theorist)

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to complete the following:

  • Establish body position to prevent occupational injuries while using technology
  • Identify digital use implications to better balance your technology use
  • Explain how blogging can reduce stress through story telling
  • Explain how vlogging can improve cognitive function
  • Apply holistic therapies to relieve tension from technology use

Key Terms or Concepts

Key Terms or ConceptsDefinition
BloggingDigital form of journaling
Digital UseImplications of using technology
ErgonomicsBody position in relationship to using a computer or device
Forest BathingA form of nature therapy
ReflexologyAncient practice of applying pressure to reflexes
ReikiJapanese form of energy healing
VloggingVideo form of blogging

Reviewing The Workstation

As we use digital technology, we often forget about the impacts our body endures in the process. Proper positioning of the body in relationship to technology will prevent injuries to eyes, neck, arm, hand, wrist and spine. 

Recommended adjustments:

  • your monitor needs to be an arms length away
  • wrists straight when using keyboard and mouse
  • hands at or below elbow level
  • chair height so knees are about level with hips

Read the following WikiHow article and observe the images for cues on how to set up your workstation: How to Set Up an Ergonomically Correct Workstation

Watch video (3:01): 9 Tips for a Healthy Ergonomic Workstation – Mayo Clinic

Adjust Your Workstation

Activity: Adjust or prepare your workstation as recommended in video and article. If you do not have access to a traditional desk and chair, please refer to the adjustments I have made for working with a laptop at a kitchen table with a regular chair. See this image

Consider:

  • lumbar support pillow for the back
  • yoga block under table to raise up the knees
  • raised laptop on a stand for eye level
  • additional keyboard for proper positioning – you may also use a rolled up facecloth under  your wrists
  • mouse with wrist supportive mousepad substitution for the trackpad

Learning About Digital Use

Digital use implications come from the positive and negative affects of using digital hardware and software. For this section, you will examine the concerns that digital use have on our society, and what you can do to mitigate any negative effects along your journey. As a digital specialist, I personally have dealt with a variety of impacts both mental and physical in nature and I don’t want to see that happen to you. Through balancing your use of digital technology, you will learn to prevent mental and physical injuries.

The following information is from a free seminar I attended hosted by Dr. Paul Mohapel of Royal Roads University, September of 2019. This link will provide you with some strong scientific facts about digital use that will help guide you along your blogging path in a more positive way. The idea is not to disregard digital technology, but to use it in a more ethical and holistic way.

Here are some key points from the presentation:

  • Multitasking maybe shrinking our brains
  • Canadians has the highest screen time average
  • Average person checks phone every 15 mins
  • Distraction is the biggest threat to productivity
  • Hand-eye coordination activities help heal the brain
  • Practicing mindfulness reverses distraction

Read the blog article about Digital Use Implications that I compiled from the live presentation.

Media Effects

Watch video about our modern digital use as seen through the lens of Canadian communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan.

Watch Video (4:49): The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan | Animated Book Review

Visit McLuhan’s Tetrad to consider how digital use is affecting our society.

Activity: Review and monitor your digital use. Consider the amount of time you use your mobile device for texting and time spent on social media. Do you use a screen time app to monitor your device use? If not, do you think you could benefit from one?

What was the biggest take away from the presentation notes? Did McLuhan’s work help you identify digital use effects?


My Personal Blogging Experience

I started blogging in 1999 at the start of its conception. At the time, many designers used the system for news blasts and cross linking to other websites, to drive traffic. From the start, I used it as a journaling system, talking about my life. I built many blogs and helped others to learn how to use a blog. One of my blogs was even highlighted as a “Blog of Note” by Google. I completed my Masters in communication and technology in order to examine how technology was affecting our society.

After I completed my Masters, I veered off into the healing arts for 5 years where I explored a range of modalities to help relieve myself from various health issues in part brought on by my digital use, such as tendonitis, back pain, vertigo, and anxiety. I spent several years studying different healing modalities and measured their outcomes on myself: Reiki, reflexology and forest bathing all of which play an active role in my life today.

During this time, I also found that while blogging, I experienced a type of catharsis and by sharing my work, it helped others.

In their study, Petko et al writes “blogging has been documented as a powerful tool to cope with stressful situations in different fields of application… information sharing and social support as essential elements of weblogs seem to provide effective support for writers to overcome stressful situation” (2015).

Read: Coping through blogging: A review of studies on the potential benefits of weblogs for stress reduction (read introduction and conclusion at the very least).

Activity: Reflect upon how story telling or journaling through blogging can bring stress relief in your own life. Now is a good time to write down some ideas of what you want to talk about in your own blog.


Case Study of Luis

Early on in developing this course, I came across a YouTube channel called The Accessible Van Life about a young Mexican man named Luis who endured a tragic brain injury after a motorcycle accident. During the first couple of years after the accident, he was isolated, confined and unable to connect to the world and fell into a deep depression.

With difficulties moving and speaking, and with financial limitations to travel, his small family were lost as to what to do to help him. Fortunately, a very successful YouTube creator called Special Books by Special Kids covered his story in 2018, fundraised money to get him an accessible van and inspired him to start his own YouTube channel which later became a reality with help from his wife Lexi.

Optional – Watch Video (10:47): The Marriage that’s Surviving a Brain Injury (Eternal Love)

Together, they have been sharing their life and Luis’s progress. They found that blogging, and in this case vlogging, has played a direct role in his recovery from depression, built his confidence and improved his cognitive abilities.

Fast forward to 2022.

Watch video (12:27): Repercussions After Severe Traumatic Brain Injury PT. Note around the 8 minute mark where they discuss blogging as a therapy for Luis both on a confidence and cognitive level

Activity: How did you feel and what did you learn by watching Luis’s story? This is a good time to think about how vlogging can improve your confidence and bolster your blog entries.

  • Will you tell a story?
  • Create an educational video?
  • Produce a scenic video?

Jot down some ideas that inspire you.


Introduction to Therapies

In additional to an ergonomically correct workstation, it’s important to take frequent breaks for a minimum of 10 mins every 30 mins to 1 hour. Our brains cannot process for hours on end so consider stepping away and apply some holistic therapies.

Read 5 Tips to Keep Your Brain Healthy.

Next are a list of helpful holistic activities for calming your parasympathetic nervous system.

Forest Bathing – A form of eco therapy. Visit Virtual Forest Bath for reducing stress. Read an article or watch a video on the resource page to learn how nature therapy works. You can use the blog posts if you cannot access a real forested area.

Reflexology – Ancient holistic therapy of reflex pressure. Visit Reflexology for Stress for applying stress relief to hands and Reflexology for TMJ for relieving facial tension as we hold tension in our face and around our jaw.

Reiki – Japanese form of energy healing. Check out Self-Applied Reiki with special attention to cupping of eyes for relieving eye strain.

Yoga – Ancient Indian holistic body and energy practice. Watch video (1:06): How to do Corpse Pose | Savasana Tutorial withBriohny Smyth for relieving back pain

Activity: Combine and apply holistic therapies. Consider using these before, during and after your digital sessions. What kind of therapies did you enjoy the most and why?


Quiz

True or False?

  1. Using my laptop on my lap is safe for my posture
  2. Humans are good at multitasking
  3. Blogging can be beneficial for stress relief
  4. Vlogging can help build confidence and cognitive skills
  5. Holistic therapies are all hogwash and not helpful at all

Summary

Balancing a healthy relationship with technology is essential for sustainability. Throughout the course, you established your ergonomic set up for injury prevention and considered ways to balance your digital use. You learned about how blogging can have a positive impact on reducing stress, and how vlogging can improve confidence and build cognitive skills. Finally, you have applied some holistic therapies to help you throughout your digital journey. You are now ready to begin your blogging journey!


Participate 

Join me on Pinterest at Maria Peronino and join the Digital Wellness pinboard to add, view and engage with pins.

You can add me on Twitter @MariaPeronino

Once you have completed the course, email carefulcrafters@gmail.com your full name to receive your certificate.


References

The references listed here, coupled with the course developer’s experience, have been used in the development of this module:

Accessible Van Life. (2022, Jan 5). Repercussions after severe traumatic brain injury Pt. I [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cOx0ZrqGuI&t=341s

Alo Moves – Online Yoga & Fitness Videos. (2019, October 19). How to do corpse pose | savasana tutorial with Briohny Smyth [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VYlOKUdylM

Brainy Quotes. (n.d.). Marshall McLuhan quotes. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/marshall_mcluhan_157742

Carter, J. (2022, January 28). Set up an ergonomically correct workstation. WikiHow. https://www.wikihow.com/Set-Up-an-Ergonomically-Correct-Workstation

Dexter, D. (2020, June 12). 5 Tips to keep your brain healthy. Mayo Clinic Health System. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/5-tips-to-keep-your-brain-healthy

Dreamstime. (n.d.). Internet addition and digital detox. https://www.dreamstime.com/internet-addiction-digital-detox-infographic-what-effects-our-bodies-how-to-reduce-time-spent-devices-image172402058

Eudaimonia. (2016, Dec 7). The medium is the message by Marshall McLuhan | animated book review [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCr2binb4Fs

Mayo Clinic. (2016, September 6). 9 Tips for a healthy ergonomic workstation [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K88q_oEwRS8&t=64s

Peronino, M. (2022, March 7). Self-Applied Reiki for digital usehttps://rainforestreflexology.com/2022/03/07/self-applied-reiki-for-digital-use/

Peronino, M. (2022, Feb 19). Digital use implications. Careful Crafters. https://carefulcrafters.wordpress.com/2022/02/19/digital-use-implications/

Peronino, M. (2020, April 17). Reflexology for stress. Rainforest Reflexology. https://rainforestreflexology.com/2020/04/17/reflexology-for-stress/

Petko, D., Egger, N., Schmitz, F. M., Totter, A., Hermann, T., & Guttormsen, S. (2015). Coping through blogging: A review of studies on the potential benefits of weblogs for stress reduction. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(2), article 5. doi: 10.5817/CP2015-2-5

Special Books by Special Kids. (2018, November 15). The marriage that’s surviving a brain injury (Eternal Love) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpzg4C9UL8U

Virtual Forest Bath. (n.d.). Your daily does of digital medicine. https://virtualforestbath.wordpress.com


Produced under the guidance and observation of Algonquin College.

Adult Online Learning Styles Infographic

I have compiled some short examples of how to use different learning styles in online course design and development. Best practice is to employ all of the styles as it benefits everyone. Do you have a specific learning style that you gravitate to? I would say for me, I use all styles but the one that I use the most would be concrete learning as I am a very hands-on type of person.

  • Individual learning: working individually on a real time project.
  • Social learning: engaging in live workshops and a social media group.
  • Auditory learning: one on one instruction with me, voice overs in video examples.
  • Visual learning: screen grab examples, graphics and embedded videos.
  • Concrete learning: task of writing a blog post, producing a video, creating a graphic.
  • Abstract learning: reading of instructions and additional linked materials.
  • Logical learning: make reference to other similar technology programs.
  • Sensual learning: crafting stories about themselves, reflection of feelings.

References

Gulbahar, Y., Alper, A. (2011). Learning preferences and learning styles of online adult learners. Education in A Technological World: Communicating Current and Emerging Research and Technological Efforts. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266592841_Learning_Preferences_and_Learning_Styles_of_Online_Adult_Learners