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Take a Break From Technostress
With cell phones chirping and wireless email devices vibrating, is it any wonder folks are feeling technostressed?
For an increasing number of connected people, being constantly available, juggling multiple tasks, and sorting through a pile of information fosters a type of anxiety known as technostress.
Technostress is irritation, frustration, stress, and lack of sleep brought on by technology.
The Stress of Technology
Technology makes it easier to check for messages in the car, respond to email while grocery shopping, or check the latest stock quotes at the beach. However, just because technology makes instant communication possible, it does not mean that it is healthy. Even people who love technology and rely on it still can admit it makes them crazy to be so well connected.
Tune in to your reactions. Do you dart to check your phone when an incoming message interrupts a DVD you are watching with the family? Are work and personal time becoming one blurred space? Do you feel overwhelmed? Is there always more that needs to be done? In other words, does technology govern you or are you managing it? You may not like your answer.
Technology can be time saving. It can make you work better, more efficiently. But you have to establish very clear limits. The trick is to know when to quit.
One Task or Multitask?
Striving to accomplish more than one thing at once revs up the stress level and decreases one's sense of control and productivity. People misjudge the speed with which they can accomplish something, spurring unrealistic expectations.
Some have become so adept at multi-tasking, that they feel uncomfortable doing only one thing at a time. Multitasking heightens the body's biochemical and physiologic systems. That hyperarousal can dull the senses, making it more difficult to think clearly.
You can't multi-task forever. Try focusing your energy on one task for a short time. You will give your brain a much needed break and improve concentration. Break up your tasks so you're not overwhelmed. If you're distracted, you'll be unproductive. Prioritize your time and learn to use your technology in ways that it will benefit you, not hinder you.
Technology and Families
Technology not only invades individual lives, it changes family dynamics. Home computers, cell phones, and tablets have creeped into every aspect of family life. Take a step back and watch the dynamic going on around you. You may see family members in the same room, but the reality is that mom might be texting with friends online, youngsters may be playing video games, and dad could be catching up on emails from the office.
Over time, technology erodes the amount of time you spend communicating in real time with your spouse, children, and even your friends.
Technology is generally a one-person activity. If your children are tuned out, how can you reel them back in? Trying to gain control from tech-savvy youngsters isn't the best course to take. Children take their cues from their parents. Instead, set boundaries about what gadgets can be used and when. Be a good role model by living within the same boundaries. Turn off your devices and pay attention to each other.
How Do You Cope With Technostress?
If you want to get over your techonostress, try some of these tips:
- Do one activity at a time. Confine yourself to one activity at a time. Try to do one thing, and do it well. Enjoy activities without dividing your attention; for instance read or watch TV, not both.
- You do not need to know everything. Accept that you cannot know everything nor keep up with the onslaught of data. Limit Internet searches to a predetermined length of time.
- Slow down. Do not respond to the speed of technology by trying to be speedy yourself. You do not have to answer an email as soon as it pops on the screen.
- Limit isolating family behaviors. Set time restrictions on playing video games and surfing the Internet. Spend free time playing a board game, enjoying nature, or just talking.
- Time yourself. Record and compare the estimated time to tackle a task with the actual time and adjust your expectations accordingly. Say no to requests that you do not have time to handle.
- Take notes. Make lists and write down thoughts so you can come back to them later without letting them clog your brain. Keep a pad and pencil next to the bed.
- Turn it off. Remove distractions when trying to concentrate. Let the answering machine record messages. Close the email window. Try putting your phone in silent mode so you don't hear any alerts.
- Get unplugged. Schedule time away from your toys. Turn the cell phone off while at the movies, when walking the dog, or watching the sunset from the deck of your favorite waterfront eatery.
As technology evolves, you will have to make periodic changes in how you to manage your technoworld. Remember, when it comes to technology, you have to be the one in control.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Isolation and connection in a digital village. The Soc Journal website. Available at: http://www.sociology.org/featured/isolation-and-connection-in-a-digital-village. Accessed Accessed September 22, 2015.
The amazing power of tech breaks. Psychology Today website. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rewired-the-psychology-technology/201105/the-amazing-power-tech-breaks. Accessed September 22, 2015.
Technostress. American Bar Association website. Available at: http://www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/gp%5Fsolo%5Fmagazine%5Fhome/gp%5Fsolo%5Fmagazine%5Findex/technostress.html. Accessed September 22, 2015.
Turning off technology. University of Alabama at Birmingham website. Available at: http://www.uab.edu/news/focus-on-patient-care/item/3734-turning-off-technology. Accessed September 22, 2015.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2015
- Update Date: 09/22/2015