Technostress: The Dark Side of Tech

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Technostress: The Dark Side of Tech

About a decade ago, the physical problems caused by technology became mental issues / Photo by Getty Images

 

Technology changes a lot. For every new change that happens, we have to adjust. This is why every so many years, there are physical and psychological adjustments that we need to do for each change in the tech world. 

If you are aware of what is happening to your body, then you will know that technology is stressing us out. This is what is called “technostress.” The use of cellphones, computers, tablets, and other gadgets is connected to one's stress levels, sleep quality, and mental health. 

 

What is technostress?

Technostress is a stressor psychosomatic illness that is brought about by working with technology every day. The term was first coined by Craig Brod back in the 1980s when the internet was not yet in widespread use and the smartphone won’t be invented until 1992.  

So when did technostress actually start? At the start of the 1990s, computers were not used much. By 2000, almost all offices use computers. Using a keyboard and mouse and sitting for an entire day could cause stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It seemed that many people get their injuries from using PCs. Back then, people wore wrist braces and organizations invested on wrist pads and ergonomic setups. After this, mobile devices became a hit. Business tech expanded into laptops, pagers, PDAs, and mobile phones. Carpal tunnel syndrome became a thing of the past and "texting thumb" became the norm. Stress injuries came from typing on a pager or phone. 

About a decade ago, the physical problems caused by technology became mental issues. People started to feel scared of being without a phone. They also experienced phantom vibrations. Then it turned to screen insomnia, and eventually to internet and smartphone addiction. 

Technostress is a term used to describe the negative psychological effects that come with technology / Photo by Getty Images

 

Smartphones became detrimental to our health, making us hooked to social media most of the time. There are alerts every now and then that something is happening and the smartphone addiction is now social media addiction. These things affect one's productivity and concentration, including happiness and overall health. 

Technostress is not just the latest change and adjustment in technology. It is a term used to describe the negative psychological effects that come with technology, such as previously mentioned nomophobia (fear of not having a cell phone), phantom vibration syndrome, smartphone addiction, information overload, posting too many selfies, and the like. 

Over time, technostress can be related to compulsion. People feel anxious when they are not looking at their phones, having a fear of missing out on what’s happening in social networks.

When online, people always check incoming messages and feel the need to respond right away. Time is spent more on messaging and social media. People get exhausted, feeling having accomplished a lot when the truth is, the tiredness felt is caused by mental shifting from one communication method to the next. Constant communication can cause stress in a person.

Practicing Good Digital Culture

The first solution to lower technostress and increase productivity is to have a strong digital culture within a company. Here are some good practices to follow:

1. Refrain from replying or sending an email after work hours. 
2. Survey employee happiness and do something about the results. 
3. Program the work day such that there is work concentration. 
4. Ban mobile phones from meetings. 
5. Make employees aware of what technostress is and how to combat it. 
6. Allow staff to take breaks and avoid after-hours of digital communication. Instead, communicate in person. 

 

How to Decrease Technostress

Preventing technostress using positive technology can increase one's work performance. 

Time Management
Sometimes we have more stress that we can manage daily. This is caused by multitasking, doing a lot of tasks without prioritizing. A better way of dealing with things is to focus on the job before moving to the next. If you can, plan your tasks for the coming days or even months. Just be sure that you can adjust if you think you are starting to feel anxious. 

Better Communication
Seeing a lot of unread messages upon waking up can be overwhelming. This can be a source of stress. However, there are ways to organize this better. 

Disconnect for a While 
If you cannot unplug for a long time, you can start by doing short periods of disconnecting. You do not have to stress yourself about how many things you have missed while you are sleeping. Start your day without looking at your phone and do something else, such as preparing breakfast. 

Forest Bathing
Japanese scientists have documented the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku or forest bathing, according to longevitylive.com. Forest bathing is merely having a 10- to 15-minute walk in the forest that can help boost your immune system. 

Stress reduction program
Many people suffer from different levels of mental strain. Doing a stress reduction program can decrease such stress and improve heart health. 

Technostress may sound as if it is something that will come and go like the hype on carpal tunnel syndrome. However, the truth is that the harms of technostress will rise if not taken seriously. Cultural change is needed to prevent and reduce this condition. 

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