Cultivating Digital Balance in Real Life

I'm Megan Barnes Zesati, psychotherapist, clinical consultant and founder of Tequanimity. I believe that mindfulness of what gets your attention online--your digital habits and your relationship with your phone--opens a transformative path to regaining emotional balance, mental focus and true freedom in real life.

In 2017, I stepped away from my Downtown Austin Therapy practice of ten years to take a sabbatical year abroad with my husband and kids. The year away was a great adventure but at the time I left, I was stressed and overwhelmed and didn't know why. All I knew was that I craved time to think, and time to think felt like a luxury. I craved more quality time with my family--the kind of time where I did not also feel distracted, exhausted, irritable and time-poor. Sound familiar?

The sabbatical allowed me to look back at the busy life I had left that I left behind with a curiosity about how technology had played a role in my loss of balance. I saw that my smartphone promised ease, efficiency and connection, but often left me feeling anxious, distracted, and disconnected from others. Over the course of my sabbatical year, I learned how to use my phone as a tool again. This simple change gave me the feeling of slow-time again and opened a forgotten ease of relationship within myself and others.

I began to understand that tech-life balance not something that can be achieved with the proper settings or parental controls, but something much more dynamic: a relationship.

I began to think of my relationship with my smartphone as a complicated relationship--one with the capacity to be empowering or deeply unhealthy. I also devoured the emerging research on how our digital habits change our brains, emotions, relationships, societies, schools, industries, communities and families. I began to see the forest from the trees.

Our heavy use and reliance on technology is a fact of modern life. Our choice is not if but how we engage in the digital world. I invite you to dive into the topic of tech-life balance without judgment of yourself or others, because we all struggle to find this balance in real life, and we need to be talking about it more. Shall we begin?