Is Technology Giving You Anxiety?
JUL 27, 2017 16:13 PM
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Is Technology Giving You Anxiety?

by Anna Johansson
 
New technology is exciting, and we’ve gotten used to it permeating our daily lives. We’re more connected and more informed than ever before, but does our new technology come with a downside?
 
Anxiety and Depression
 
Chances are, you’ve experienced at least some degree of anxiety or depression in coordination with your use of technologies like social media, and the internet in general (whether you realize it or not). On a large scale, technology is making us more disconnected, prompting feelings of anxiety that weren’t there before and making us feel sad and negative. 
 
But why is this the case?
  • Instant responses. When you send an email, or post on someone’s social media feed, they receive a response instantly. Social connections, from friends and family members to coworkers, now function 24-7. When you send someone a message and they don’t respond right away, you tend to feel a tinge of anxiety. When you receive a message and you know the sender has seen you read it, you feel a tinge of anxiety as well. These feelings add up and constitute a world that demands constant socializing and attention.
  • New social dynamics. On top of that, social media is not a suitable substitute for real human interactions—yet that’s how we’re using it. Some forms of social media use are actually beneficial, such as keeping in touch with friends who live far away or sharing particularly special moments with a large audience, but the public and fleeting nature of interactions here is far less intimate, and less rewarding in the long term than a conventional mode of socialization. 
  • Overabundant information. There are many advantages to how much information we have access to, and how much we’re exposed to on a daily basis. In a matter of seconds, you can look up almost any fact you desire, and catch up on the latest news. However, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, many headlines are negative, and the media skews toward bad news. Your brain, upon reading all this negative information, can go into information overload, causing you to think more negatively about the current events of the world. Is it better to be ignorant and happier? There are arguments on both sides of the equation, but either way, the overabundance of information is sparking trends of depression. 
These are just three of the ways that technology can incubate or exacerbate anxiety and depression.
 
Overcoming Tech Anxiety
 

So what can we do about this? The answer certainly isn’t to cut technology out of our lives entirely, but we can use these strategies to use technology more responsibly and improve our mental health: 

  • Get plenty of sleep. Anxiety and healthy sleep have an inverse relationship; the more anxious you feel, the less likely you’ll be to get a good night’s sleep, and the less sleep you get, the more prone you’ll be to anxiety. Don’t stay up late at night scrolling on your smartphone; instead, go to bed early, create a suitable environment for yourself, and try to maintain a consistent schedule. 
  • Disconnect. Go on a technology “diet,” restricting your activity to a bare minimum for a stretch of several days. It’s a way to re-teach yourself to be less dependent on your apps and devices. With less overall exposure, you’ll be less susceptible to the negative mental effects of technology. 
  • Maintain and find new real-life relationships. Instead of managing your relationships on social media, work to preserve them in the real world. Get dinner. Go have coffee. Attend mixer and networking events, and try to meet new people. The more you engage with others in real life, the more you’ll realize how insufficient social media is at fulfilling your social needs. 
  • Find healthier outlets for stress. When you get stressed for a moment at work, do you ever log into social media to check your newsfeed? Pew Research shows 34 percent of American workers do the same, with another 27 percent using social media to connect with loved ones as a distraction from work. Instead of relying on technology as a way to de-stress, meditate, exercise, and maintain healthy eating patterns. 
Technology isn’t something to be feared as a progenitor of mental illness and dissatisfaction. It’s still the glorious, economy-boosting, life-enhancing tool it’s always been. However, if we’re going to learn to limit the negative downsides of excessive technology use, we need to find new strategies to use tech responsibly in our personal lives.
 
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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