Arianna Huffington, power businesswoman, author and speaker, is all about health. Her departure from her namesake site in 2016 for the creation of Thrive Global further proves how dedicated she is to both mental and physical wellbeing. And though she's still commandeering the media industry from her office at Thrive, she's got a big point to make -- and it's got to do with your phone.
Tell me — why is eye health just as important as mental health, especially in a workplace?
Well, we find that when you look at a growing addiction to screens, a lot of parts of our life are affected. I've spent a lot of time focusing on what it does to our attention, our time, our relationships, our mental health -- and the data is increasingly alarming, especially around teenage girls and depression and anxiety.
But it's also very clear that it's affecting our eye health like dry eye. That's why we launched this partnership and the site "Screen Responsibly" so people can get tips on how they can make improvements. Nobody is going to give up screens -- that's clearly not the goal.
But if you take, for example, our 20-20-20 accommodation, which is after 20 minutes on screens, take 20 seconds to look 20 feet as a way to give your eyes some rest. It's all very consistent with all of our recommendations around "little pauses. Whether it's in the morning, when you first get out of bed, or often before you get out of bed, and don't go straight to your screen. Take a minute to breathe consciously and set your intentions for the day and remember what you're grateful for.
Or at night, don't put your phone by your bed because you're much more likely to go to it in the middle of the night and look at your screen in the dark. Another simple thing people can do that we recommend is to change the light on your screen.
What do you hope to achieve with the Shire “Screen Responsibly” campaign?
Well, the first thing is greater awareness of the problem. We have some data that one in three people spend more than 10 hours a day on screens and that's more than the doctor recommended number. Obviously, we're not giving medical advice -- if people have a problem they need to see their doctor -- but we want to start with awareness and then give people microsteps that people can introduce into their day.
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How do you show your eyes some love?
Well, I love the pauses that I described. I love walking meetings, especially as the weather is getting better and better -- and it'll immediately take you away from the screen. Here at Thrive we have device-free meetings. I have my leadership meeting today, and nobody is on their devices -- which makes the meeting more productive, effective and faster. And also it means we're not on our screens.
What about some other ways to give you and your body a break?
Well, the first thing is to recognize that when take these breaks, when we sleep and give ourselves enough time to sleep, we are more productive. So, we don't sacrifice anything. Our decisions are better, our mental climate is better. For me, it starts with me picking a time at the end of the day to turn off all my screens and gently escort them out of my bedroom. I have no screens on my nightstand or by my bed -- that's my first step.
What are some ways that Thrive is an industry leader in terms of the health and wellness in terms of its employees?
Well, it starts with expectations. At the end of the day, when people leave work, they're not expected to be on their devices or answer emails or texts. If there's a project that requires them to work late they take what we call "Thrive Days," time to recharge as soon as possible.
And then there are other things we do that aren't related to screens: We have a nap room, massages...healthy food. We prioritize certain things in our culture. The way that we reduce stress is to clearly prioritize what needs to be done. We call it "get comfortable with incompletions. Nobody who has an interesting job gets everything done by the end of the day, but as long as they do the important things and let the others fall by the wayside, it's fine.
I have to ask, what do you think about that SNL impression?
Yes, I think it's fantastic! We should bring it back, post it on social because I think it's so funny with Seth Meyers.
You’re in the media industry, but do you close yourself off from what the media is saying about you? How have you developed a thick skin.
I don't actually believe in a thick skin. I try to be more like a child. Have you noticed children get upset about something ... and it takes a minute, but then it's over? So I think adults have a hard time letting go of things. It's okay to be upset, we're human. I think the problem comes when we cling to the upset rather than moving on.
Related: What your eyes can say about your health