Can Too Much Technology Be a Source of Stress?
Feeling stressed? Then you aren’t alone. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress runs high across all age groups. According to the APA’s annual Stress in America 2018 survey, nearly three out of four adults reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress during the past month, and almost half of those surveyed reported that stress keeps them awake at night.1
According to the APA survey, stress is highest in younger age groups, with Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X reporting the highest levels of stress, respectively.
The APA’s previous survey in 2017 reported that four out of five adults “constantly” check their email, texts, and social media accounts.2
The 2017 survey also found that the same individuals who do that with their digital devices reported higher levels of stress compared to individuals who interact with technology on a less frequent basis.
Although we typically think that stress only occurs from traditional sources, like work, finances, health, and relationships, lesser known sources of daily stress, such as media and technology overload, are now occurring.
Even though there is no doubt that technology is making life immeasurably easier, like anything else in life, too much of a good thing can have a negative effect, and technology is no different.
Ways that technology can stress us out
The ubiquity of technology, and our growing dependence on it, contributes to increasing our stress. Here are some common reasons why.
1. Work-Life balance
The instantaneous communication brought on by technology has forever changed our work-life balance. With the ability to answer an email always at our fingertips, the boundary between when work hours begin and end has become blurred. The reality of being constantly available is a significant source of stress for the modern worker. One study found that the expectation of monitoring and responding to work email after work hours inevitably strains home and family life.2
2. Unending interruptions
The constant bombardment of messages and notifications that technology brings becomes a never ceasing interruption. The constant distraction impacts our ability to focus and becomes another source of stress.
3. Comparison stress
Social media is now the modern equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses. It can lead to comparing our lives with the lives of those we are connected with. Through our social networks, we see updates from friends and family about how seemingly “perfect” their lives are, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and increased stress.
Researchers are now studying the impact social media has on mood, and some believe the more we use social media, the more likely its use will have a long-term impact on mood – and not for the good.
4. Messing up your sleep schedule
Technology use (and the blue light that devices emit) has been linked to disrupted sleep patterns, and the lack of sleep makes people more susceptible to daily stress.
Five steps to less technology-induced stress
While you don’t have to go off the grid completely, here are five simple steps to maximize the benefits of modern technology while minimizing the ways it stresses us out.
1. Limit technology use
Our cell phone and our laptop need a break to recharge, and so do we. Set one or more strict times throughout the day or week where you can be technology free for 30 minutes. Read a book, listen to your favorite music, or practice a meditative breathing technique. Any activity that separates you from the constant distraction of technology will help. If you are brave enough, then take a complete technology detox [link to blog when available] or an extended break from all technology.
2. Test for stress
Understanding your stress is the first step to effectively managing it. Take a stress test to better understand your stress levels and the hormones that are associated with stress. Thorne offers a convenient home Stress Test that measures cortisol and DHEA levels – the two hormones most associated with the body’s response to stress.
Knowing your levels of these two stress hormones can guide you to your best stress-management strategies. Follow-up testing will confirm whether the changes you implement are having the desired effects.
3. Support healthy stress management with supplements
Supplements can support a holistic approach to stress management. Thorne’s Memoractiv™, a unique nootropic for anyone who is experiencing the stress of a tech-driven society, can be combined with Thorne’s Hemp Oil + for a comprehensive approach to not only help manages stress, but also to enhance mental focus.*
Or you might consider Thorne’s Stress Management Bundle, a trio of supplements that helps with stress management and provides support for healthy adrenal function.*
4. Incorporate stress-reducing activities daily
Work in 30 minutes of a stress-reducing activity every day. Take a walk, exercise, take a yoga class, learn to meditate, read a newspaper, take a nap with your cat purring on your chest – mix it up a bit. But if you don’t find time every day to fit in 30 minutes of a relaxing activity, then definitely don’t stress about it!
5. Consider talking to a professional
Chronic long-term stress can be detrimental to good health. Consider reaching out to a professional for support. Together you and a trusted professional can find which stress management solutions work best for you.
- American Psychological Association (2018) Stress in America Survey. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2018/stress-gen-z.pdf[accessed 6.7.19}
- APA’s survey finds constantly checking electronic devices linked to significant stress for most Americans. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/02/checking-devices [accessed 6.7.19]
- Becker W, Belkin L, Tuskey S. Killing me softly: Electronic communications monitoring and employee and spouse well-being. Acad Manage Proc 2018. 12574. 10.5465/AMBPP.2018.121.