Technology is becoming an increasingly large part of the modern life. We are now more connected than ever before as smartphones, smartwatches, and wearable tech become more prevalent. The constant ping of notifications can wear us out (just as quickly as they wear out our device’s battery life!), but is technology itself causing us stress?
Yes and no.
Constant connection and work/life balance
With telework becoming more common, the modern workforce can now work from anywhere with a phone and internet connection. With work email on our phone, the balance between work time and non-work time can become blurred. Work is no longer something necessarily left at the office: we have access to it wherever our smartphones are connected.
While that’s great for productivity in an increasingly global workforce, it can be draining.
The good news is that technology, in this case, is just a tool. Work/life balance depends on the personal boundaries you set, so if work emails are intruding on family time, do what you can to take care of work during working hours, or set aside specific times to address work during evenings and weekends. While some weeks will be packed with late nights, deadlines, and weekend conference calls, try to establish and stick to boundaries when possible. Schedule tasks and meetings that must be accomplished outside of working hours and switch off your phone between them.
Friends and followers: your brain on social media
Now that we can check-in, snap quick photos, and instantly post stories and send messages, our digital lives are becoming more and more social and connected. So is social media making you more stressed than ever?
Not necessarily, a study shows. Overall, users do not report increased stress levels by using social media. For women, however, it can be a bit more complicated. While sharing and connecting on social media can actually lead to less perceived stress, social media engagement can also increase the user’s awareness of stressful events in the lives of those in our digital social circles. For women, this “ cost of caring” can raise stress levels.
While the average social media user may not need to take time to unplug, be aware of the emotions you experience when using social media. Observe your own habits and tendencies and, if necessary, make adjustments. Social media can make it easier to compare ourselves to others, though, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and depressed mood.
Social sharing provides opportunities for comparison at a higher frequency than offline communication, but doesn’t necessarily accurately represent the real lives of those in your networks. If you have a tendency to compare yourself to others, it may be beneficial to step back and evaluate your use of social media and what evokes negative feelings for you.
The Bad News About Blue Light
While checking social media updates before bed may not stress you out, the blue light emitted by your devices may be disrupting your sleep--which can lead to stress. Computer and touch-screen devices like tablets and smartphones emit blue light. Blue light isn’t necessarily harmful. In fact, blue wavelengths boost attention, wakefulness and mood, making them useful during daylight hours.
With new energy-efficient lighting and a growing prevalence of screens, we’re being exposed to more blue light than before. This throws off our “internal clock” (Circadian rhythms) and affects our sleep. Blue light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone we rely on to trigger the sleep part of our sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and making sleep more disrupted.
If you must use tablets, smartphones, or computers before bedtime, opt for screen filters that block blue light or apps that adjust the tone of light your screen emits.
While your devices may not be causing you stress, the way you interact with them could be. When you start feeling stressed, take a moment to evaluate the way you’re using technology. Take a break or set boundaries if you need to, skip the screen before bed time, and make sure your social media connections are meaningful.
Technology can be a part of a healthy lifestyle as long as you remember to connect mindfully.
Sara Vallejo is a self-confessed happiness, health and self-development junkie from Chicago. She writes professionally in a business development and marketing capacity, and as a volunteer for a digital nonprofit. Miss Vallejo is a passionate mental and holistic health advocate who believes that good health is an ongoing journey best undertaken with supportive peers. Sara’s areas of expertise include nutrition, weight loss, women’s health, mental health and disability issues. She is returning to weight loss and fitness following orthopedic surgery and is excited to encourage and inspire fellow Azumio community members and readers to achieve the best health they can.
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