With the rise in technology, researchers are drawing a link to the corresponding rise in anxiety, self-deprecation, low self-esteem, and depression. Given tech's inevitable prevalence, how can we possibly keep our wits?
Technology was created to make our lives easier, faster, and more efficient. While it may have delivered on these to some degree, it has gone infinitely further by also making our lives more chaotic, demanding, time-consuming, and stressful.
It's no techno party, it's technostress
Our devices are constantly dinging with notifications, emails, and messages. We typically move from screen to screen, and sometimes have several screens in front of us at once. This lifestyle has been shown to be stress-inducing so much so, a new term of stress has recently been coined to describe it, technostress. Technostress is a negative psychological response to the use (and overuse) of technology, and is considered to be a threat to our well-being. In addition to our technostress, researchers are also attributing the exacerbation of ADHD, depression, fatigue, feelings of insufficiency, insomnia, and anxiety symptoms to the use and overuse of technology!
98% of females feel pressure from social media to look a certain way
In fact, studies show people who spend the most time using technology, at 7 plus hours per day, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who use it for less than one hour per day. Unfortunately, 7 plus hours a day accounts for a typical workday!
Overall anxiety and depression rates have increased 70% in the past 25 years.
98% of females feel pressure from social media to look a certain way.
Millennials report the highest stress levels related to technology use.
1 in every 4 females are clinically diagnosed with depression, an eating disorder, cutting, and other mental/emotional disorders linked to social media use.
86% of Americans admit to constantly checking their emails, texts and social media.
TV and overall media exposure in adolescence is associated with increased rates of depressive symptoms, particularly in males.
In our instantaneous, egocentric world, we are so hyper-focused on what we look like on social media, how we're perceived, how many people like us, etc. and we've gained so many narcissistic qualities that we've lost sight of the things that really matter and that really make us feel good. In fact, it's hard to go out and about and not see someone posing for a selfie. While pictures are great for capturing the moment, it's also important to experience the moment.
If I still have your attention, let's look at some healthy stress-relieving outlets that will bring you even closer to your self than your selfie...
While I'm sure most would welcome wealth, beauty, and fame as part of their life, I'd like to challenge you to focus on attaining things that extend beyond what you see on a screen, which is so often not reality. I challenge you to focus on finding your health, inner peace, and happiness. Once you allow yourself the time out you need to experience and fulfill these things, you will find your inner beauty and it will radiate from the inside out (this is the field of energy around you that creates your aura). After all, what's so great about being beautiful, rich, and famous if you don't experience these first and foremost? It'd be like having a home with beautiful curb appeal, but no walls or furniture on the inside. Nothing to keep it structurally sound or fulfilled.
We rely so much on external voices that we've disabled our internal voice and allowed that external voice to override who we are.
Find Your Self
Without picture documentation and hashtags, do you know who you are? Can you enjoy the moment internally without exploitation? Find something you enjoy, and enjoy it sans technology.
Any activity or practice will do if it brings you inner peace, calm, happiness, gratitude and/or health. Maybe it's something of your past time like gardening, hiking, knitting, or playing an instrument. Maybe it's something you've never tried before. Find what it is that allows you to be in tune with your mind, explore your emotions, experience your relationships with real people and real things in your environment, and be in the present moment.
Here are a few ideas:
Reconnect with Mother Nature. Experience nature and how you feel in it. Go for a nature walk and leave your phone behind (or off). This can be a form of grounding (which can take many forms). However you feel most in touch with Mother Earth, reconnect yourself.
Do a digital detox. Take a break from technology or unplug certain technologies to allow yourself a break (after you finish reading this blog, of course!). Even if you just unplug for a few scheduled hours a day, you will achieve a much needed mental rest.
Journal. Taking pen to paper has been shown to improve mental health and acuity. Not to mention it provides great insights into ourselves.
Submit to faith/Meditate. Whether you're religious or not, taking a dedicated time out and submitting to a higher power is a rewarding experience if you will allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Spend an evening doing a hobby aside from Netflix. Learn a new trade or indulge yourself in a practice that fulfills and uplifts you.
Express your creativity. Play an instrument, write, draw, knit or pick up any hobby that allows you to express your creativity. Researchers found that expressing creativity is linked to brain and physical health.
Exercise. whether you're a pro or a slow runner, inflexible yogi, unbalanced ballerina, or doggy paddler, it's all the same. Allowing yourself to enjoy an exercise routine that connects your mind and body is a great way to achieve comfort from within and reduce stress.
Dress to impress, yourself. There is importance and mood enhancing qualities of dressing in clothes that make you feel good about yourself, and it's also important to be able to feel great in something that provides comfort and ease. See what makes you feel good and go for it!
Shut it down early. The blue light in electronics wreaks havoc on our sleep cycle. Pull away from the blue light early in the evening to allow your body to create melatonin for a good night's rest.
With technology being a huge stressor in modern life, it's important to learn when to give yourself a time out from the external voices and turn inward. Change your habits now and start building internal armor to protect yourself from the toxicities and stressors of technology. And remember, nothing experienced on the internet can ever be better than what you can experience in the moment with yourself or a loved one!
For more health-promoting activities, learn about the importance your fascia and how to take care of it
Bergagna, E., & Tartaglia, S. (2018). Self-Esteem, Social Comparison, and Facebook Use. Europe's journal of psychology, 14(4), 831–845. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v14i4.1592
Berry, N., Emsley, R., Lobban, F., & Bucci, S. (2018). Social media and its relationship with mood, self-esteem and paranoia in psychosis. Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica, 138(6), 558–570. https://doi.org/10.1111/acps.12953
Lin, L. Y., Sidani, J. E., Shensa, A., Radovic, A., Miller, E., Colditz, J. B., Hoffman, B. L., Giles, L. M., & Primack, B. A. (2016). ASSOCIATION BETWEEN SOCIAL MEDIA USE AND DEPRESSION AMONG U.S. YOUNG ADULTS. Depression and anxiety, 33(4), 323–331. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22466
Nimrod G. (2018). Technostress: measuring a new threat to well-being in later life. Aging & mental health, 22(8), 1080–1087. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2017.1334037
Primack, B. A., Swanier, B., Georgiopoulos, A. M., Land, S. R., & Fine, M. J. (2009). Association between media use in adolescence and depression in young adulthood: a longitudinal study. Archives of general psychiatry, 66(2), 181–188. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.532
Seaward, B.L. (2018). Managing stress: Principles and strategies for health and well-being (9th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.