With the modern popularity of social media sites, Skype and texting, few of us are ever really "switched off" or inaccessible, and research suggests that this is causing stress for many people. If you're feeling overwhelmed by technology, check out these five ways to deal with digital stress.
Switch off from work
According to a survey conducted by VTech and Toluna, being constantly accessible for work was the number one source of technology-related stress for participants, and nearly a quarter spent more time working because of it. Although it can be tempting to carry on checking emails and answering work calls long after you leave the office, it is important to allocate some time for yourself and switch off from work stress.
Tell your colleagues that you will be unavailable after a certain time, turn off your phone and computer and set aside some work-free time each evening to relax. Have a bath, read a book, take an exercise class, or do whatever helps you to unwind. If it is absolutely integral to check your messages outside of work hours, at least try to check them less often and set aside a portion of time when your phone is switched off.
Have important conversations face-to-face
One of the major problems with communicating primarily by email, social media sites or text messaging is that it can be difficult to detect tone or meaning in the same way as in a face-to-face conversation. Therefore, misunderstandings can easily arise. It is also more common to have to wait for a reply, which can cause prolonged stress and anxiety.
To avoid unnecessary drama and stress, try to have important conversations face to face and leave emails and texting as a way of making arrangements and for trivial chat. As many of us have become used to relying on technology rather than meeting in person, making more time for proper conversations will also help to give your relationships a boost.
Be selective with your contacts
Being inundated with messages or reading constant social media updates from people who cause you stress in any way can easily ruin your mood. Therefore, it can be helpful to be selective about who you are available to and when. Many of us feel obliged to accept all social media friend requests and hand over our personal contact details when asked, but only do this if you want to.
If you are not sure you want to be constantly accessible to a certain person, try politely explaining to them that you tend not to use that form of communication very often. Alternatively, if you don't want to be constantly available to co-workers, set up accounts just for communicating with colleagues, which you can check as and when you want to.
Don't feel pressured to have it all
According to VTech and Toluna's survey, the second leading cause of technological stress is having to keep up with technology changes. However, it is important to realise that it is not essential to have and know it all. Although it may be tempting to purchase the latest mobile phone or iPod, or to set up an account for every social media site going, remember that technology is meant to be there to enhance your life not detract from it, and if it is causing you stress then it is not doing its job.
It is not worth letting technology ruin your mood, so try to stick to what you find useful and don't feel under pressure to keep up with trends. If you do need to know about certain digital devices for your job or because you think it will enhance your life, take a course or ask someone to show you how to use it rather than letting it overwhelm you.
Have a digital detox
Many of us spend a vast percentage of our day connected to the internet or texting on our mobile phones; however this can cause us to miss out on many everyday sources of pleasure, such as conversations with the people around us. To help cut stress and make time for more worthwhile activities, try to have a digital detox.
Spend a week, day or afternoon (whatever you can handle) without any technology and live in the real world instead. Listen to the birds singing rather than your iPod, take in the view rather than tapping away at your phone, and call someone for a conversation rather than sending an email. When you get back to your computer or phone you will notice that the world didn't stop because you turned it off for a while and there was probably nothing to stress about after all.
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