This year’s International Stress Management Association theme, ‘Does Hi-tech cause Hi-Stress?’, prompted me to think about my use of technology and one device in particular. When did I start taking my iPhone to the bathroom with me and responding Pavlov-style to every alert? I can’t really remember but sure as dogs drool at the sight of the dog bowl, it needs reining in.
My clever little iPhone informed me that last week my daily, average screen time was 3h 42m. It also displays a nifty bar chart that categorises HOW I’m using my phone. What a snitch! I seem to spend most of my ‘contact time’ texting or perusing Instagram. I guess if you add this to the time I spend at my laptop, it all adds up.
I have resisted social media for as long as possible but as I am trying to set up my business I really need to Instatwitterbook myself! Technology is so important in so many ways but I need to make sure that I am getting a balanced diet and perhaps it’s the quality of the tech interactions that’s the issue? Too many social media interactions that make you feel stressed or prompt comparisons with others surely can’t be good for you? Or maybe the device distracts you from face to face interactions? Like when you went for coffee with a friend and her iPhone got all the attention! Ever happened to you?
Too much junk?
Let’s think about tech like food. Bear with me. We could define the ‘healthy’ tech interactions (the ones that are helpful and provoke a positive response) as the protein, veg, carbs that we need to fuel ourselves appropriately on a daily basis. Then, there’s the ‘junk’ that makes us feel sad, low, angry, frustrated etc. That’s the sugary, fatty, salty, processed stuff that we can get addicted to but really is not going to make us healthy. In the same way that your physical health can suffer from an unhealthy diet, so can your mental health suffer from an overload of tech. If you feel like you’re getting too much junk, could you reduce it?
One main component of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is behavioural change. Change doesn’t have to be big – start off small and see if you feel any better.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that we never eat another slice of ‘cake’ but perhaps we don’t need to eat the whole cake in one go? So maybe just become a bit more aware of your devices. Put your phone away when you are walking down the street and try looking around you instead. Leave your little android or i-friend alone for an hour, switch it off at certain times of the day or when you meet a friend for coffee and NEVER take it to the toilet. It might fall in!