Digital anxiety is a term you may have heard to describe the negative feelings of depression and anxiety associated with social media usage. Digital anxiety is not just a trendy term that people nowadays like to throw around; it is a serious issue that has never been more prevalent.
In fact, according to a 2016 Deloitte study, people are more addicted and glued to their smartphones and tablets than ever before. The number of active users on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have only been rising since the onset of social media, and people are spending ever-increasing amounts of time on their phones.
So, how do we unplug in a world where being connected and informed is so integral to our lives? While it may be hard to neglect social media completely, there are ways that we can manage technological stress while still being present and connected with others. Keep on reading to learn about what digital anxiety is, how it can be harmful, and what you can do in your daily life to minimize harm and mental stress.
While it goes without saying that the internet has allowed for massive improvements and advancements in our day-to-day lives, it has come with some challenges as well. For one, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression have presented themselves in association with frequent social media and internet usage.
Seeing frequent catastrophic news events and dark crime stories in the media have altered our reality and made it impossible to ignore the dark side of our world. Also, young adults are exposed more than ever to celebrities and unrealistic beauty standards in the media, which are putting a damper on positive self-esteem and mental health.
The criticism from strangers online and the effects of cyberbullying can also be especially detrimental to young children. It almost seems like no matter which way you turn, there are images, videos, and news to consume. Constant exposure to digital media can be extremely overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Levels of anxiety can become even higher in times of public outcry, mass shootings, and injustices.
To better understand anxiety in our digital age, there are a few ways in which these issues can present themselves in our physical well-being and general lifestyles. For example, you may begin to suffer from insomnia or an inability to get restful sleep throughout the night due to overuse of social media.
Another symptom of digital anxiety can be forgetfulness, as you may be more absent-minded and less present in real life. Furthermore, you may find that your work life is intruding on your personal life and you are unable to mentally “clock out” for the day.
All of these symptoms and issues can point to digital anxiety or depression, as your computer and phone usage time starts to increase all while negatively impacting your quality of life.
To support yourself and manage anxiety from constantly processing digital media, here are a few tips to better deal with technology stress. Keep in mind that these tips are better when implemented earlier on as preventative measures, as digital stress can easily burn you out and make it harder to recover.
It’s best to schedule regular breaks into your routine and stick to them. Putting a marker in your calendar for break time helps you hold yourself accountable. Breaks should be just as important as work, as they help fuel your day and keep you running healthily. Don’t neglect or ignore your reminder for breaks throughout your day.
Instead of fiddling with yet another app that claims to help organize your life, try the old-fashioned technique of writing your to-do list or schedule down on paper. Even just the act of taking a break from the screens and putting pen to paper can be therapeutic.
Also, if you do it this way, you can place your notes or list where you can see it daily, instead of only needing your phone to access it.
It’s a good idea to put your phone on silent or “do not disturb” when you need a break from the screen. Also, try to do this when you are putting your phone away for the night and going to bed. The idea is to avoid hearing, seeing, or feeling any sort of notifications or reminders that your phone may be sending you so that you can truly disconnect.
In your daily life, it’s important to stay on top of your work-life balance before you get burnt out. Schedule regular time off and plan face-to-face interactions and activities, instead of just communicating with others over text or phone.
If you feel that you are suffering from burnout or digital anxiety, it’s critical to get the help you need as soon as possible. This means speaking to a licensed and professional psychiatrist or therapist who can work with you to identify your issues and help to address them.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been proven to treat a variety of mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, social anxiety disorder, digital anxiety, and more. If you require the help of anxiety therapy or CBT in Toronto and the GTA, there are options available.
Never suffer in silence. CBT works to explore the relationship between your emotions and behaviours. Reach out to a professional anxiety disorder therapist who can work with you to see real improvements, elevated moods, better sleep, and less screen time.
Finding peace and quiet in the digital age can be an intimidating and sometimes nearly impossible task. Much of the time, we are constantly bombarded with news stories, politics, trivial media coverage, as well as the comments, likes, and dislikes of others online.
With so much information swirling around, it can be hard to differentiate the important from the not-so-important. While it’s perfectly normal to want advancement and growth in our lives through the consumption of information, too much media can be damaging and overwhelming.
This is why limiting social media before bedtime, getting proper sleep, carving out time to go outdoors, and visiting friends and family in person can be stress-relieving and good for mental health.
Likewise, it’s important to consider the impact that technology and social media have on your children and to make sure they are having appropriate interactions online. After all, ensuring the next generation is well equipped to deal mentally and emotionally with society’s technological advancements is a great way to promote better living for both the young and the old.
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