Digital Wellness and Mental Health by Nina Hersher
Updated: Jun 9, 2019
The Low Tech Trek is happy to introduce one of our new guest writers, Nina Hersher! Nina is the Founder of Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness and Lifestyle. Through her work, she provides a wealth of digital wellness education to her clients and talks below about her mission to teach digital wellness at “the intersection of technology and mental health.”
Growing up in the 90’s
I grew up as an only child with a chronic, genetic stutter. I quietly took in the world around me, constantly watching humanity with a state of curiosity. I became involved in the performing arts where I learned to use my voice regardless of disfluency. I fell in love with using performance to teach others about empathy and authentic connection.
As I matured, I continued to observe those around me, watching the way people treated each other. I witnessed the way interactions were shifting with the growing popularity of mobile devices. I sensed an increasing detachment among people, and a lack of presence in their connections. I became worried about humanity, and the incoming generations who would know nothing but a plugged-in life versus the quiet introspection that I valued so much.
Both then and now, I believe we live in a brilliant and sometimes overstimulating world. We have the ability to be more informed and connected than ever before, but sometimes we have a hard time unplugging. Our on-call world can be just as energizing and exciting as it can be exhausting! The societal expectation to be immersed in our work, social media, and the news can leave us feeling fried or overwhelmed. I believe we created it, and we have the power to re-establish balance by modeling digital wellness practices for ourselves and others.
Specializing in Youth and Digital Culture
In college, I studied sociology and traveled abroad to The University of Edinburgh for their Youth Culture courses centered around technology. I became fascinated with this “Digital Youth Culture” and continued my studies through a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis with an individualization in Digital Culture and Program Development. I researched how norms of connectivity in the 21st century were re-conceptualizing human development. During my graduate degree, I saw just how overwhelmed and overstimulated the undergraduates were, feeling on-call for their email and struggling to take breaks that actually recharged them. Working at the university’s health center I implemented “StressLess@WashU,” a research-based coaching program to support students who were struggling with anxiety and productivity in their academic careers. I worked with the students on digital productivity and self-care, identifying both holistic and tech-based resources to help students recalibrate their habits for a healthier daily routine. This involved finding a healthy solution to the integration of digital technology in our everyday lives, and its inevitable overuse and misuse. My consultations embraced technology as part of the students’ language, and provided individualized wellness plans based on their needs. This work was the highlight of my academic career. I became of acutely aware of the need to scale it.
Digital Wellness for All
I graduated with my MSW and found that more and more people were calling out for 21st century wellness solutions. They wanted to feel grounded and balanced in an era of technological over-stimulation. To meet that need, I expanded my toolbelt – becoming a certified Oasis in the Overwhelm Facilitator by teaching 60-second strategies for balance in a busy world. Most recently, I founded Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness Coaching and Lifestyle. Nourishing Habits™ promotes sustainable and realistic healthy tech practices; we’re about “slow tech” rather than “no tech”. While I’ve maintained my coaching and consulting practice, I’ve expanded to create a digital wellness resource hub. Nourishing Habits™ is growing to review apps, articles, and digital wellness products to determine the best practices in digital productivity and self-care in the 21st century.
A Note to Educators
I view digital wellness as the intersection of technology and mental health. I believe that because this is such a new field, we have a collective, ethical responsibility to continue researching and documenting presenting problems and proposed solutions. Please reach out to join me on this mission. I can’t wait to meet you. This is going to be big!
Nina Hersher, MSW
Nina Hersher holds her Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis with an individualized degree in Digital Culture and Program Development. Hersher is also a certified Oasis in the Overwhelm Facilitator, teaching 60-second strategies for balance in a busy world. Hersher’s background in mental health and wellness programming led to her specialization in digital wellness. Hersher works as a consultant with mental health start-ups and founded Nourishing Habits™ Digital Wellness and Lifestyle. Hersher operates Nourishing Habits™ as a resource hub, providing digital wellness education online, and offering her clients coaching and seminars on best practices in digital productivity and self-care in the 21st century.