Technology: love it or hate it, there is no denying that our entire world revolves around it. From ordering our morning coffee through an app and using computers for work, all the way to setting our alarms before bed, nothing is as simple as it once was. While this has led to unimaginable convenience, it also comes with a plethora of risks and added stress. As with anything in life, moderation is key but how much technology is too much? Discover the technology related stressors that may be negatively influencing your daily life.
According to a Global Mobile Consumer Survey conducted by Deloitte in 2017, the average American checks their phone forty-seven times per day. This number nearly doubles for those between the ages of 18 and 24 to a whopping 86 times each day. While the value that our smartphones provide is immense, as a society, we are addicted to them. Likewise, we have integrated technology into every aspect of our lives to the point that it is hard to escape. One of the biggest hidden stressors of technology; however, comes down to our usage in the evenings. Whether televisions, cellphones, or computers, each of these screens are intensely bright. When we are exposed to these bright lights shortly before turning in for the night, it inhibits our body’s natural production of the hormone that aids in sleep, known as melatonin.
This results in a serious battle with insomnia—a chronic problem for one in seven adults. A lack of sleep can lead to immense difficulties in one’s daily life including delayed reaction times that are comparable to those of an intoxicated person. Other effects of insomnia include difficulties with problem solving, an increased risk of serious health problems and even weight gain. This leads to a perpetual cycle where insomnia may be treated with prescription or over the counter drugs which only further inhibit a person’s ability to fall asleep naturally. To escape insomnia brought forth by technology, experts recommend avoiding exposure for at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed and keeping your bedroom a tech-free zone.
It happens all too frequently and if you haven’t done it yourself, you’ve certainly been on the other end. You arrive for lunch or dinner with a friend or romantic partner; eager to connect and catch up. The atmosphere is pleasant, the food is fantastic, but few words are being exchanged because one (or both) of you are distracted by a smartphone. Perhaps the phone rings, an urgent text arrives, or your dining partner feels the need to capture photos of every dish that makes its way to the table. In either case, communication suffers immensely and eventually, you feel as if you are dining alone. This can lead to hurt feelings, frustration and can quickly put a damper on any relationship. The strain on the relationship can cause excessive stress and can lead to major problems, particularly when it is a spouse or romantic partner. To prevent this technology related problem, it is crucial to follow and enforce cell phone table etiquette. This means that all parties silence their phones and put them away until the meal or activity has ended. By doing this, you and your partner can ensure that both parties remain focused on conversation and enjoying one another’s company.
Tying in with a lack of communication, many find that they feel incredibly isolated because of increased technology usage. From many people shifting to remote work, to people communicating primarily through e-mails and text messages, these practices are quick and convenient, yet they hinder authentic human connections. This is because these platforms do not allow people to connect on a more personal level. They keep their communications to a minimum and rarely learn anything beyond basic facts about who they are speaking to. If they were meeting and speaking face to face, they would learn much more about their personalities and personal lives. Likewise, social media is a large contributing factor to isolation which is often surprising to many, as they feel that it allows them to engage with more people on a regular basis.
The truth is these digital connections prevent people from participating in their real lives. Instead of talking to the person sitting next to them, they converse through messages with online personas. Research has shown that verbal communication with other people, on a face-to-face level, can decrease stress levels, depression, anxieties and when these conversations are replaced with digital ones, these rewards are lost and replaced with loneliness and isolation. To beat the isolating effects of technology, experts recommend regularly attending social functions, dining with co-workers at lunch and getting into hobbies that allow you to connect in-person with like minded individuals.
While being isolated can contribute to many mental health problems, social media and other digital outlets can also lead to unrealistic expectations in life that further illicit stress, depression, and anxiety. This is often common among teenagers and social media influencers or celebrities. They see posts featuring these influencers living a luxurious and wild lifestyle. From traveling to exotic lands and going on shopping sprees to driving exotic supercars, these impressionable teens begin to think that these are typical behaviors. They strive to live these lifestyles and look like the influencers that they admire but are unable to make the connection that these photos or videos do not reflect reality. They do not see that the influencer was paid to advertise the product or that the star is barely making a living wage off of these staged photo shoots. Instead, they try to create this lifestyle for themselves and because it is not real, it inevitably fails leading to negative thinking, stress, anxiety, depression, and a low self-esteem.
Teenagers, however, are not the only ones susceptible to social media envy. Although adults are less likely to idolize a celebrity or social media personality, they experience similar feelings when viewing frequent posts of their co-worker’s elaborate vacation photos, their picture-perfect families, and sprawling estates. While it may seem more obtainable than striving for private jets and mansions, the effects are the same. They strive for a life that is viewed solely through photographs. They do not see that the co-worker is in debt, for instance, or that the estate was inherited. They simply blame themselves for not achieving similar successes and the same stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem ensues. To minimize social media envy, try to limit your engagement with the platforms and remind yourself that there is always more to a photo than what meets the eye.
Another hidden stressor of technology is obesity. Whether you are a few pounds overweight or clinically obese, technology may play more of a role in your weight gain (and inability to lose the extra pounds) than you ever anticipated. This is because as we sit on our phones, watch television, or play games on our computers, we are sitting stagnant. When this becomes our daily and nightly routine, we find ourselves living completely sedentary lifestyles. Our bodies are not getting the physical activity that they need to remain strong and healthy. This is particularly true when we choose binge watching television shows, for instance, over going for a hike in the woods. One by one, many of the activities that many people used to enjoy have been replaced by games, social media, web browsing, chatting in forums or compulsively watching television shows. While these activities are fine in moderate amounts, they should not be the basis of an entire day or evening. Instead, get back to nature or start a new exercise routine that can get your body moving again. While your body will thank you for the exercise, you may be surprised to find that it reduces your stress levels, decreases anxiety, and makes for a better night of sleep.
Although technology undoubtedly has its place in our hectic lives, it is important to remember that technology should never replace the important things in life—like real human connections, a restful night of sleep and staying active. When it is used in moderation, it can truly enhance our lives and offer unparalleled convenience. When technology is used in excess or when we develop an addiction to things like video games or social media; however, it can drastically disrupt our lives and can lead to severe mental and social difficulties. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or an addiction to technology, reach out to the experts at Transformations Treatment Centers today to get started on a happier, healthier path today.