Take a Break From Technostress

Smart phones, tablets, chirping and wireless email devices vibrating, it's no 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. It is caused by the loss of time boundaries and in-person connections that technology can bring.

Are You Tech Stressed?

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 can admit it is tiring to be so well connected.

Tune in to your reactions. Do you check your phone while you are watching a movie with the family? Is your work and personal time blurred together? Do you feel overwhelmed, like there's always more that needs to be done? Have you started to wonder if technology is running you or you are managing it? You may not like your answers. Technostress can also cause:

  • Headache, tension in neck and back, problems sleeping
  • Increase in minor illnesses like colds
  • Easy irritation or anger, anxiety, burnout
  • Problems focusing
  • Hard time with work life balance

Technology can be time saving. It can help you work better, but you need to have clear limits. The trick is to know when to quit.

Loss of Focus

We tend to think of multitasking as an admired goal. Multitasking heightens the body's biochemical and physiologic systems. That hyperarousal can dull the senses, making it more difficult to think clearly. It revs up the stress level and decreases one's sense of control. It will actually cut down your productivity.

People also misjudge the speed with which they can get something done. Starting with unrealistic expectations is a sure way to cause stress and make trouble meeting goals.

Give yourself focus time. Shut off unnecessary devices and alarms while you work on the task. It will help you focus on a single task and give your brain a much needed break. The improve concentration can help you do better work in a shorter period of time. Break up your tasks so you're not overwhelmed. Learn to use your technology in ways that it will benefit you. This can include scheduling quiet times and tracking amount of free time and work time that you actually have.

Technology and Families

Technology not only invades individual lives, it changes family dynamics. Home computers, cell phones, and tablets have crept 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 mom might be catching up on emails from work, youngsters may be playing video games, and dad could be texting with friends.

Separate technology eats away at time your family has to interact with each other. This can affect wellness of both adults and children. Set some tech-free time. Children take their cues from their parents. 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.

Coping With Technostress

You recognize signs of technostress, what should you do now? It may take some time to find steps that work best for you. The first step is to realize when technology is hurting more than helping. Then try some of the following:

  • Turn it off. Remove distractions when trying to concentrate. People can leave messages on your phone and emails will be there when you are done. Try putting your phone and computer alerts in silent mode so you don't hear any alerts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Choose tech toys carefully. Assess which toys and tech solutions you take. Are they helpful to you or more likely to use your time?
  • 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 talk.
  • 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.
  • Consider tech vacations. Longer periods of time away from tech may help you find things you enjoy again.

As new gadgets come out, you may need to make changes in how you to manage your technoworld. Remember, when it comes to technology, you have to be the one in control.

RESOURCES:

American Psychological Association
http://www.apa.org

Mental Health America
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Psychiatric Association
http://www.cpa-apc.org

Canadian Psychological Association
http://www.cpa.ca

REFERENCES:

The amazing power of tech breaks. Psychology Today website. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201708/dealing-technostress. Published August 22, 2017. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Technostress.Technostress: This Is Your Brain on Computer Screens. King University website. Available at: https://online.king.edu/news/technostress/. Created October 20, 2017. Accessed June 8, 2020.

TechnoStress: What Is It and What Impact Does TechnoStress Have on You?. NCCAT website. Available at: https://www.nccat.org/blog/technostress-what-it-and-what-impact-does-technostress-have-you. Accessed June 8, 2020.

Last reviewed June 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 6/8/2020