4 Ways to Reduce Digital Stress in Your Life
Digital stress is something virtually all of us experience in our lives. You may not think about it throughout the day. But you’re a victim of it nonetheless.
Years of slow-creeping technology finally caught up with us at the turn of the century. And with the Internet age delivering high-speed Internet, smartphones, and the Internet of Things, it’s going to keep getting worse.
In the following article, we’ll talk about what the digital stress phenomenon is in greater detail. We’ll also discuss how you, as a student or recent college graduate, can make a concerted effort to wrest control of your life back. Let’s begin!
What Is Digital Stress?
Digital stress is our inability to turn off technology and its influence in our lives. We’ve become so reliant on it that it’s starting to take over even the most mundane functions, like adjusting the thermostat in our homes.
Sure, it’s a “neat” innovation that saves us from getting up and doing it ourselves. But do you ever stop to think about the negatives it brings into your life? For example:
- More screen time
- More eye strain
- An inability to be present with others
- An obsession over the next notification or message
And that’s just one simple example. As technology grows, we’re allowing it to do more than just adjust the temperature. And with each bit of control we give it, we lose more of ourselves.
Seriously, what other simple functions do you turn over to your smartphone or an app or device of some kind? What are you losing physically or from a critical thinking standpoint as a result?
How Does It Affect You?
The effect of too much digital clutter in your life usually equates to being unable to think for yourself. An example: you become so reliant on your phone’s calculator that you find it difficult to handle simple math or algebra that students 20 years ago could do in their heads.
While you may feel “what’s the point?,” the reality is that you’re losing the ability to think. Now, that example may not apply to you. But we’re sure you know of some whom it does. And we’re all guilty of losing touch with something as a result of over-dependence on technology.
In this section, let’s explore the major ways that it cuts into our lives.
It Eats Into Sleep Time
When you experience digital stress, you have too hard of a time falling asleep. Perhaps you’re checking your phone too much before bed. Maybe it’s the first thing you look at when you get up in the morning. If you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, do you steal a moment or two to check email?
Break the cycle! The way to do this is to not sleep with your phone anywhere near your bedside. Hook it up in another room. Create physical space and it becomes easier to create mental space.
It Draws You Away from the Relationships That Matter
How many times have you or someone you’ve known zoned out in the middle of a conversation because you got a text from that special someone? You may think you can do two things at once. But your friend knows you’re not paying attention.
It would probably be a safe bet to assume we’ve all been guilty of it at some point. And while it may not seem like a big deal at the time, it creates long-term social fallout that can damage all types of relationships.
Try to put your phone somewhere you can’t get to it easily the next time you’re hanging out with a friend or family member. Have them commit to do the same. You may be surprised with what you learn about each other.
It Makes You Think the Worst Will Happen
We live in a world that seems to eat, sleep, and breathe the 24-hour news cycle. Sadly, good news doesn’t go as far as bad news. And our culture is now so cynical that much of the good news turns out to be fake. Anyone remember the inspiring homeless person who turned down help and racked up thousands of dollars on a GoFundMe?
Turns out it was a scam between him and the other two “well-to-do” people who were “sharing his story.” Unfortunately, you can’t get away from any of this crap unless you tune the news out entirely. But to get rid of the digital stress that it creates, why the heck not?
We recommend going to being a headline skimmer instead of a news junkie. Read through the headlines to stay informed in a general sense of what is happening in the world. Note headlines that are opinion versus those that are quite clearly Fact. Dismiss opinion headlines even if you agree with them — at least dismiss them in the sense that they have news value — and keep an eye out for the rare publisher that reports straight news.
They’ve got your best interests at heart. But above all, realize that life is somewhere on the spectrum between “better than ever” and “Hell on Earth.” Don’t trust anyone or any publisher who tells you differently.
It Distracts You from Living Your Best Life
So many people like to put their “best life” on Facebook and other social media platforms. Personally, privately, professionally — they want you to think that they’ve made it to Shangri-La … the Fountain of Youth … the Holy Lands. Or at least the 21st Century equivalents.
The reality is that you can’t live your best life on social media because that’s not where life plays out. If you really want to reduce the digital stress in your life, start by cutting out the attempts to be something you’re not. That’ll free up a lot of time for more worthwhile, soul-feeding endeavors.
It Sucks the Enjoyment Out of Your ‘Analog’ Experiences
Nothing is quite so annoying as going to a concert or some other special event and watching people view the whole thing through the lens of their phones. These people are NOT having a good time. We know this because they are 100-percent not present.
You can’t be happy if you’re not present. You can only be numb. Sadly, they think they’re living in the moment. But when they “relive” the experience through the video or pictures, it’ll start occurring to them that they missed out on a lot.
It may not be something they ever acknowledge aloud. But they’ll know it through the disappointment and lack of passion they start to feel for pretty much everything. This is one of the deceptive ways that digital stress can creep in, and you’ve got to set aside your technology, especially during big moments, if you ever want to enjoy it.
So How Do You Overcome It?
Fortunately, there are ways you can overcome the digital stress created by technology and our attitude toward it. In fact, technology itself can even help with this, as we’re about to see in the first technique.
By Paying Attention to Screen Time Reports on Your Phone or Tablet
Apple has gone to tracking user behaviors through Screen Time Reports. Android-based devices have had this feature in place for a while as well. They essentially tell you whether you’ve got a problem, or at least give you a baseline on which to deconstruct.
Resolve to do a little better each week. Before long, you’ll gently remove digital stress from your life. You’ll know it when your levels of happiness start rising.
By Making Concerted Efforts to Set Aside Your Technology for Large Sections of Time
You’ll never set aside the technology that causes digital stress if you don’t make a concerted effort to do it. Take time to sit down and plan things out on paper. When are the busiest times of your day? The moments when you absolutely need technology to survive? (Probably work, school, study time, etc.).
Once you know the essentials, it’s time to carve out time where you get it as far away from yourself as humanly possible. When those moments come, you’ll be able to wrap yourself up into something that feeds the mind (i.e., reading a book, journaling, riding your bike, etc.).
By Filling Your Time with Something to Look Forward To
A great way to break the digital stress hold on your life is to create events of varying scale. Events you can look forward to. Events that don’t involve heavy use of your phone or other intrusive technological device.
What makes a device intrusive? Any time it calls for your attention through a bell, whistle, buzz, notification or message, it’s calling out for you to address it. This is what destroys your ability to focus on a moment and enjoy life for what it is.
Without that ability, you’ll never be able to look forward to anything. So set your phone to Do Not Disturb and start making plans!
By Being More Creative at the Job or School
Creativity cures a lot! If you’ve lost touch with your creative side, find an outlet for it. That outlet can involve writing, painting, building, programming, you name it. Just find it, and do it!
Digital Stress Matters: So What Are You Going to Do About It?
Hopefully, you’ve been able to pinpoint the digital stress in your life and what’s causing it. Once you know these factors, it’s much easier to control it and to begin reclaiming your life.
We wish you well in your ability to do just that. Now it’s your turn. What are some of the issues that have caused the most digital stress in your life and what are you doing to overcome it? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by The Discovery Blog]