Technology has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we work, communicate and live. While it offers many conveniences, it also presents new challenges. “Technostress,” for example, refers to the negative impact and stress induced by chronic and unregulated interactions with technology.
As the world increasingly relies on digital devices, social media and constant connectivity, the resulting technostress can take a toll.
Here are three key signs of technostress to watch out for, according to research.
1. You’re Chronically Online
One of the most prevalent signs of technostress is a compulsion to constantly check digital devices. Research shows that the incessant need to stay connected, whether for work or leisure, is indicative of addictive behavior. This can look like a sense of unease when you’re away from your devices, reaching for your phone during social gatherings or interrupting important tasks to respond to notifications.
One of the most prominent reasons behind technostress is information overload. With a constant barrage of emails, notifications and news updates, it is easy to become overwhelmed. This creates a cognitive overload due to the sheer volume of data being consumed. You might frequently struggle to prioritize tasks, concentrate or find yourself getting lost in a sea of information.
Additionally, with the rise of remote work, many individuals feel like they are always “on the clock,” resulting in burnout, disrupted work-life balance and reduced focus and lowered productivity.
2. You’re Physically Overwhelmed
Research shows that technostress has various physical manifestations. Excessive screen time causes health issues including headaches, eye strain, body aches and disrupted sleep patterns. These symptoms are often linked to poor ergonomic habits, prolonged exposure to screens and blue light emitted by devices which disrupts our circadian rhythm.
Technostress is also closely associated with heightened anxiety and elevated stress levels. For instance, the expectation to be available 24/7 for work-related messages and emails can leave individuals in a state of constant stress, which has adverse physiological effects including compromised brain and immune system functioning.
3. Your Relationships Are Suffering
While technology bridges communication gaps, it can also create them. Research shows that an over-reliance on digital communication can hinder face-to-face interactions and contribute to feelings of loneliness.
Constantly checking devices during social gatherings or spending excessive time on social media may isolate you from those physically present. The allure of digital escapism can lead to “phubbing,” where we prioritize our screens over our loved ones. Research shows that a fear of missing out on the online world often drives such phubbing behavior.
You might notice a growing disconnect in your relationships or a sense of loneliness despite staying digitally connected with others. Sometimes, your relationship with yourself is at risk, as you may be scrolling through your feed, trying to avoid being in your own mind, diverting attention from areas of your life that require it.
However, it is still possible to use technology without being overwhelmed by it. Here are a few strategies to manage technostress:
- Set boundaries. Establish clear boundaries for technology use, both in your personal and professional life. Designate tech-free zones and times to disconnect and recharge. Establish specific times for checking emails and social media and stick to those limits. Use filters and curate your feed to ensure you only see the most relevant and essential information. Allocate time for relaxation and engage in activities that help you unwind and recharge.
- Practice mindfulness. A 2023 study found that technostress can be mitigated by incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. This helps bring awareness to your digital habits and reduce anxiety and stress.
- Prioritize human connection. Make an effort to strengthen your face-to-face relationships and maintain a healthy balance between online and offline interactions. Schedule plans with friends in person, with strict no-phone rules. Research suggests that social support has a buffering effect for lonely and digitally exhausted social networking users.
- Digital detox. Periodically disconnect from digital devices to reset and rejuvenate. Use this time to engage in physical activities, hobbies or simply relax.
- Seek professional help. If technostress is significantly impacting your mental and physical health, seek help from a mental health professional who can offer guidance and support in understanding the root causes of technostress and provide coping mechanisms to alleviate its impact.
Technology has undeniably transformed our lives, bringing with it the challenges of technostress. This phenomenon can manifest as an insatiable urge to stay digitally connected, disrupted cognitive abilities and physiological well-being as well as strained relationships. By creating healthy boundaries and mindful practices around technology, it can remain a tool that enhances your life while safeguarding well-being.
Are you a phubber? Take this personality test to know more: The Phubbing Scale