Stress Relief for the Constantly Connected
Life vs. screens: who’s really in control? LORI DESCHENE on how to make sure you’re the one in charge.
easy to feel overwhelmed in our internet-enabled, always-on world. From
friends and family to colleagues and acquaintances, there’s always
someone emailing, tweeting, or texting—and everything can seem so
urgent. If you feel stressed by the pressure to keep up with the stream,
you may find it helpful to set some communication boundaries, for
yourself and others. These tips may help.
was a time when we collectively understood that reaching an answering
machine meant no one was home. We also accepted that we would receive a
call back at some unknown time, when that person returned.
most of us anticipate far speedier replies these days, it’s up to each
of us to set expectations for when and how we’ll respond. That might
mean setting up an email auto-responder explaining that you only check
your account at specific times each week. Or it might entail writing in
your social media profiles that you don’t check messages on those sites.
You may also want to request that your friends and coworkers compile
their requests to send all at once, instead of sending many short emails
throughout the day.
you set boundaries for how you receive communication— and expectations
for when you’ll respond—it will be easier to relax when you disconnect.
Take Digital Breaks
year on March 23, millions of people did a collective digital detox. It
was the third annual National Day of Unplugging, created by an
organization called the Sabbath Manifesto. A digital detox is just what
it sounds like—a complete break from everything related to technology.
Those who took part reported feeling more present and focused in their
you don’t need to wait for a scheduled day to unplug and recharge your
mind; at any time you choose you can enjoy the benefits of powering down
your gadgets. During those days when you must stay connected,
prioritize maintaining a connection with yourself so that you stay in
touch with your needs. You may require regular breaks to stretch your
legs and ground yourself in the moment, or you may need to close
everything down once in awhile and take a few slow, mindful breaths.
When you schedule and take regular digital breaks, it’s much easier to maintain a sense of balance, mentally and physically.
Harness the Power of Pausing
we feel technology-related stress, it’s often because we’ve consciously
chosen to distract and overwhelm ourselves. Sometimes we pull out our
phones to avoid uncomfortable moments or sign on to social media sites
to feel acknowledged, connected, or validated. When you feel compelled
to check your email, post a status update, or otherwise engage online,
take a moment and check in with your true intentions and needs.
same concept also applies to work correspondence. You might be tempted
to monitor your email remotely in order to stay ahead, but this puts you
in a persistent state of high alert. In a recent study, British
psychologist and researcher Richard Balding found that obsessively
checking smartphones for email can lead to higher stress levels. The
most stressed participants regularly checked their phones, anticipating
new messages that weren’t actually there—what Balding termed “phantom
can dramatically increase your overall well-being by planning to stay
disconnected when you’re able, and pausing to check in with your true
intentions when you feel the need to go online.
you take the time to set and honor healthy boundaries for technology,
you’ll inevitably feel much more relaxed, focused, and balanced—and
consequently, less stressed.
Lori Deschene is the author of Tiny Buddha and founder of the popular website tinybuddha.com.