Are you #Technostressed? Take a break
Over the millenia, humans as a species have evolved to the glittering world of technology. It’s a known fact that humans shape technologies, but let’s face it, they have also shaped us in return. The constant connectivity, the shiny lights, beeps, and chimes of our ever-present devices set us up for success, especially in the pandemic. Technology has enabled constant communication and wait for it, the expectation that we should be available 24/7 specially with our work from home schedules. All of us have been privy to a laptop in one hand, while conversing with someone on a call with the other hand all the time checking emails. Technology has left us vulnerable and stressed out resulting in fractured attention, haywire sleeping patterns, untimely meals, aches, pains and exhaustion and has given cognizance to the term, technostress.
Dr Anuneet Sabharwal, MBBS, MD Psychiatrist and founder, The Happy Tree, says, “Technostress can be defined as the negative psychological link between people and the introduction of new technologies. Modern communication has increased the ease of our lives but it has also significantly increased the speed at which it moves. Exchange of information that would take weeks by mail can now happen on the other side of the world in seconds or minutes. This might lead to development of stress as these advancements have increased the speed at which we move. Modern technology and advancements has gained such a presence in our lives that it’s easy to become addicted to social media and smartphones and we often tend to use them to the point that it starts impacting our functioning.”
“The constant desire to be connected and informed via the virtual world poses the dangers of a possible behavioural addiction. Pathologizing terms such as Nomophobia, FOMO, textaphrenia, ringxiety or phantom ringing type phenomenon are now being used to indicate the adverse impacts associated with excessive use of technology,” says Dr.Samant Darshi, MBBS, MD Consultant - Psychiatrist at Psymate Noida
Technology does not automatically make us stressed. Being connected to the internet and using email, text services, and social media drives most of us up the wall and more often than not we turn into emotional wrecks. The stress affects our overall health and wellness by disrupting our body’s natural rhythm and patterns like digestion, sleep and immune health. To begin with, it greatly affects the visual system that comprises the very important sensory organ- the eye. Dr. P.K. Santhakumari, Matha Ayurveda Eye Hospital, Trivandrum, says, “ These present times have definitely evolved into an online era. We have started to depend on various types of online services for most of our needs. These online devices are definitely creating a lot of stress on our visual organ - The eye.”
He adds, “The screen of the visual devices is illuminating in nature. This causes your eye to start becoming hypersensitive to bright light. Exposure to these bright screens increases the chances of degeneration of your cornea.”
For most of us reaching for our phone is a default whenever we’re even minutely bored or lonely. Vaibhav R Mishra, health expert and model, says, “We have built a dependency on always being connected to our phones because now we can access the internet, our banking and our music. They have become our whole lives and so there is a fear to ever be without them. This fear then leads to stress as we always have a need to feel attached.”
By recognising and understanding the stressors, we can better curb the stress and anxiety. ”Technology has to be visualized as a tool for enhancing growth and not as the only way of living. Any form of behavioural addiction pertaining to technology such as gaming, social networking, smartphone etc needs expert attention for comprehensive management,” says Dr Darshi.
Set boundaries that are non-negotiable. Healthy phone boundaries might include not using it during a meal, when you’re in a social situation, before bedtime, or in the bathroom. ”To avoid tech stress, people should create their own schedule where they can allot two hour a day to technology free relaxation,” says Mishra.
Spend time in nature
Distance yourself from your phone and occupy that time with things that bring you joy. ”Savour the life beyond gadgets and try to be in nature as much as you can. Go for walks without your smartphones and interact with kids and elders. Read paper books and not digital copies,” says author Sujata Salvi.
“Dedicate time for exercise, yoga and physical activity. Try to engage in breathing or relaxation exercises instead of overindulging in social media,” says Dr Sabharwal. Take time out for yourself, if your work is technology-intensive and add meditation to your daily lifestyle, suggest Pritika SIngh, CEO, Prayag Hospital & Research Center Pvt. Ltd.She adds, “Meditation helps with balancing the happy chemicals in ones brain.Technology has affected our relationships in personal and professional life. It is important to meet people, rather than opt for a video call. Have set timings and follow a routine. I have seen people getting hospitalized due to anxiety as they are always stressed and responding to emails and calls can also lead to this.”
Be slow to upgrade
Every new tech upgrade is not to be bought. Go slow with upgrades of phones and laptops. Salvi adds, “Recognise and embrace that new not might be necessarily better.” Cutting down the hours we spend on our devices and not upgrading is both financially and environmentally beneficial.