It is hard to believe that we are already into the second month of 2020. This time, as with any election year, the political and social stress that has come with it has created a new burden for everyone. It is a matter of fact that stress is all around us and invades our lives everyday whether we are fully aware of it or not. I talked last month about trying to digitally detox our lives from the stress that the digital world places on us and how it can sometimes be too much to handle. In my clinical practice I see the effects of digital stress and how it impacts not only adults, but also kids and the family unit as well.
The question I often receive about whether technology is really affecting us comes to me on a weekly basis. The answer is always: YES! It can be hard to wrap our heads around the how and why, but our technology use absolutely leads to increased internal stress and spreads to those around us. Over the last 10 years I have seen a huge jump in my private practice with individuals who have stress, anxiety and depressive disorders as a direct result of the growing and advanced technology use.
Stress in general affects our overall health and wellness by disrupting our body’s natural rhythm and patterns like digestion, sleep and immune health. Long-term exposure to stressors have been scientifically linked to increased anxiety and depression. It is vital to be aware of what stress does to our body and minds so that you can make informed decisions in regards to stress and your health. Cutting out non-necessary stressors can improve your physical, mental and emotions health astronomically.
When it comes to technology affecting our overall health and wellness something as simple as an autogenerated newsfeed or social media notifications can create subconscious reactions that impact us in our lives. For example, being glued to our cell phones and missing personal social interactions can create a lonely sedentary lifestyle and can create a rift in relationships because you are always comparing your life to those you see on social media. The list goes on.
In addition, heavy screen use is also linked to disturbed sleep patterns when used in excess and before bedtime. It is highly recommended to stop screen time at least 2 hours prior to going to sleep and to not have any technology in your bedroom. This recommendation exists because screen usage is linked to suppression of the hormone melatonin, which is the hormone that helps with quality sleep.
All of these impact our health and are definitely why decreasing your tech use has become a very popular New Year’s resolution over the last few years. There is some very strong evidence that when we have better balance we are emotionally better off.
So, if you have found yourself slipping in your resolutions to cut out down on technology time to decrease your stress, don’t be discouraged and give up just yet. There are 11 months left to work on your commitment to yourself to make a change. Stay positive, stay motivated, and know that there are so many others fighting the same battles as you.