founder & digital wellness coach

The Rise of Digital Wellness Coaching

Just like we know we shouldn't indulge in junk food or skip our workouts, we know our digital habits are unhealthy. But much like with diet and exercise, we struggle to break free from them.
The Rise of Digital Wellness Coaching

From endless TikTok scrolls to non-stop pings and vibrations, our phones have become an extension of our bodies. And it’s only getting worse.  

Artificial intelligence is advancing at crazy rate, with a new mind-bending demo (like Runway's Gen-3 Alpha text-to-video model) gracing the Twitter timeline each day. Once we find the right form factor at a consumer-friendly cost, extended reality and virtual will become mainstream. And in a world where infants are practically popping out of the womb with iPads in hand, it's clear that even the brightest of evolutionary psychologists have not planned for what the next few decades hold.

Technological innovation is drastically outpacing regulation, ethical infrastructure, and general societal awareness. Most people are addicted to their smartphones and have little understanding of AI's capabilities, let alone how it will impact them and their children in the coming years. 

Despite outcries from U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, We find ourselves fighting personal battles against the largest, most formidable tech giants with seemingly infinite resources at their disposal. These companies employ armies of engineers and researchers to design applications that exploit our human psychology, making it ever more difficult to resist the pull of our devices. 

As our lives become increasingly intertwined with technology, it's becoming evident that we need a new kind of support system to help us navigate these uncharted waters. 

Enter the digital wellness coach – a role that, in the next 3-5 years, I anticipate will become as common as personal trainers and nutritionists. 

But what exactly will these coaches do, and why are they so necessary? To answer that, we need to take a hard look at our relationship with technology. 

The Why

At some point, nearly all of us have fallen victim to the almost irresistible urge to check our notifications, scroll through social media, or binge-watch our favorite shows. We turn to our smartphones and laptops in fleeting moments of boredom, seeking comfort and an escape from our thoughts and solitude. It's a pattern that's all too easy to fall into, and one that can quickly become a band-aid for any and all anxieties. 

Just like we know we shouldn't indulge in junk food or skip our workouts, we know these digital habits are unhealthy. But much like with diet and exercise, we struggle to break free from them. We're hardwired to seek out the instant gratification and dopamine hits that our devices so readily provide. 

This is where digital wellness coaches come in. Their job isn't to shame us for our tech habits or to advocate for a complete digital detox, just as a personal trainer wouldn't shame us for enjoying a slice of cake or skipping a workout. Instead, they'll work with us to build awareness, set boundaries, and create sustainable habits that allow us to use technology in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, our lives. 

To be effective, digital wellness coaches will need to stay up-to-date with the latest tech advancements and understand how applications are designed to manipulate user behavior. This requires a deep understanding of the emerging field of "digital psychology" – a discipline that explores the complex relationship between human behavior and technology. I also believe this is a worthwhile specialization that all active therapists should also add to their tool-belt. 

So what might this look like in practice? I envision a blend of one-on-one coaching, group support, and smart software tools, similar to the multi-faceted approach we often see in the fitness and nutrition world. 

Individual Coaching

Individual coaching will be key for those who need personalized attention and accountability. Just as a personal trainer takes the time to understand each client's unique fitness level, goals, and challenges, digital wellness coaches will craft tailored strategies to address each individual's specific digital struggles. They'll serve as a sounding board, a cheerleader, and a voice of reason in a world where the lines between online and offline are increasingly blurred. 

Group & Cohort-Based Coaching

Group or cohort-based coaching will provide a sense of community and shared purpose. There's something powerful about knowing you're not alone in your struggles, whether you're trying to eat healthier or reduce your screen time. 

Outside of the group sessions, participants will complete assessments, worksheets, and other assignments to deepen their self-awareness and progress towards their goals. They'll then come to the online group video sessions ready to review their insights, challenges, and successes with their coach and fellow participants. 

Software-Assisted Coaching

In this case, I view software not as a standalone solution, but rather as a vehicle for scaling the impact. Consider MyBodyTutor, a business that connects users with personal nutrition coaches. The coaches provide daily accountability, support, and guidance, and the web and mobile app enables them to work with more clients than they could otherwise, without sacrificing personalization. Or take Future, which pairs users with remote personal trainers who create custom workout plans and offer real-time feedback and motivation. I suspect a similar model could work wonders here. 

I strongly believe that software should complement, not replace, human connection and interaction. The face-to-face, synchronous communication (whether in-person or via video) should always still be at the heart of effective coaching. 

This is where the role of the coach becomes even more crucial. Beyond providing guidance and accountability, a skilled digital wellness coach will also facilitate meaningful human interactions and experiences. They'll encourage clients to engage in face-to-face conversations, plan offline activities, and build real-world relationships. They'll help clients find joy and fulfillment in the present moment, rather than constantly seeking distraction and stimulation from their devices. 

Food For Thought

As digital wellness coaching gains traction, questions of access and equity will inevitably arise. Will this service become a luxury, available only to those who can afford it? Or can it reach those who may need it most—lower income and marginalized communities where teens spend more time on social media compared to their higher income and white peers. Can we find ways to integrate these supports into our schools, workplaces, and healthcare systems? 

While educating students about the potential risks of social media and excessive tech usage could have a profound impact on their long-term well-being, we must be cautious not to scold normal teenage behavior or create unnecessary moral panic. We must strike the right balance between supporting healthy habits and respecting personal autonomy. 

Ultimately, the rise of digital wellness coaching will coincide with a recognition that our relationship with technology is something we need to actively manage and nurture, not just passively accept. Just as we've learned to be intentional about our physical health through exercise and nutrition, we must now learn to be intentional about our digital well-being. 

This means recognizing that technology itself is neither good nor bad – it's how we use it that matters. It means acknowledging that what constitutes "healthy" technology use will look different for different people and contexts. And it means grappling with thorny questions around access, regulation, and the unintended consequences of well-intentioned interventions. 

It will require us to challenge deeply ingrained habits and assumptions, to get uncomfortable, and to make difficult choices. But the alternative – a world where we are increasingly disconnected from ourselves, from each other, and from what matters most – is simply not an option. 

If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reply to this email or DM me on Twitter. 

If you’re interested in coaching (either individual or group), I’d also love to chat. I’ve been receiving some great inbound as a result of this emails and have had some really amazing conversations with people who are committed to making a difference in their lives.

If this sounds up your alley, feel free to book a call here. 

Lastly, if there’s anyone in your orbit who you think would find this interesting, it would mean the world if you shared this on social or sent it their way.