It’s all around us. We have smart homes, smart cars, smart TVs, smart phones. Everywhere you turn from your home, work, car, pocket, technology is there and is ever connected. As a society, we have become so dependent on technology that new terms and symptoms have arisen such as “technostress,” social media anxiety, smartphone addiction and more. It seems the more we’re connected, the more stress we accumulate and the more we disconnect from the personal relationships around us.
What are the symptoms of technology related stress and anxiety? There are many signs, most of which are similar in nature to any stress or anxiety related problem. They include:
- Physical traits such as neck and back pain, eye strain, rapid heart rate, etc.
- Emotions such as frustration, depression, irritability, loss of tempter and more.
- Behavioral changes such as insomnia and social withdrawal.
In fact, there are an array of new studies that suggest technology may be impacting our brains in more ways than just intake of information. In a recent study presented to the Radiological Society of North America, overuse of technology can create changes to the chemistry in the brain similar to any addiction.
While technology can be helpful and efficient in so many ways, too much of a good thing, to use an old cliché, can be bad for you. We’re not advocating giving up technology. Quite to the contrary. However, overuse can lead to health issues. So, here are some tips you may want to take to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with use of technology.
1. Take Breaks: At work or at home, if you’re involved in a long project that requires the computer or you’re planning a marathon gaming session, it’s healthy to take breaks at points where there is a natural break where you can do so. Getting away from the screen will allow you to re-energize and re-focus. Spend your break time walking, talking to people or anything else that will take your mind off the project for the moment.
2. Limit Time: While this is difficult work related projects that have deadlines (in those situations, take breaks), for social media, gaming, smartphone use, limit the timeframes you dedicate to those activities.
3. Disconnect: For some people, that may seem heretical. However, you don’t need to be on all the time. Switch to Airplane Mode when dining out, at a concert, movie or other events. Leave the tablet behind when meeting with family friends. Don’t take the phone on to the gym floor. In other words, relish the moment. Focus on the event, the people you’re with, the activity you’re involved in, without the constant bombardment of chiming alerts and distractions.
4. Meditate and/or Exercise: Meditation and other exercises can help take your mind off of the immediacy you feel when connected. Deep breathing exercises, Yoga, Tai Chi, aerobics, running, cycling, etc. can all help reduce stress, rejuvenate and reduce tension in your muscles.
5. Reduce Posts: While social media allows us to share information with our friends and followers, it doesn’t mean that every little thing you do is worthy of that activity. Posting every little thought, personal activity, picture or video can have the opposite effect of what you’re intending. For your friends and followers, getting those constant updates and alerts can seem like being in a one-sided conversation that goes on-and-on. Eventually, people just start to tune out.
Technology is great. It can be a tremendous help within your life but don’t let it control you. It is a tool to help you live your life. It is not meant for you to live your life through technology.