Can Tech Really Reduce Stress And Anxiety?
If you asked 100 people how tech helps them reduce anxiety, most would say it doesn’t. In fact, many consider shutting off screens to be the most effective way to destress — and they aren’t necessarily wrong.
Roughly 40 million Americans live with some type of anxiety disorder and scrolling through social media only exacerbates their symptoms. Comparing yourself to others on Instagram, staying up late to stare at your phone and watching an endless cue of discouraging newsreels is enough to send anyone into a tailspin. Thus, taking a break from your phone or laptop might be incredibly enticing.
However, disconnecting from technology in a digital world is virtually impossible. So, instead of turning off phones and laptops, some people are starting to use them to their advantage. Already, there’s a plethora of apps, interfaces and gadgets that can reduce stress and anxiety and improve your overall well-being. You just have to know how to use them.
Measuring Your Mental State
One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to get more in tune with it. What are you thinking and how do those thoughts affect your emotions, perceptions and behaviors? Technology can help you answer some of these questions by providing feedback on your body.
For example, pip devices can give you immediate biofeedback about stress levels so you can consciously slow your breathing and heart rate. Wearables like smartwatches use a similar approach to measure stress so you become progressively more attune to triggers and effective destress methods.
Of course, obsessing over your heart rate is a surefire way to make it skyrocket, especially for anyone living with cardiovascular risks or panic attacks. However, understanding your current mental state can help you find ways to improve it and find more stability in a chaotic world.
Most people consider technology a major distraction, something that leads to mindlessness. Therefore, it only makes sense that you’d give up your phone to become more mindful. Yet, tech can play a critical role on your journey to learning mindfulness and living in the moment.
For instance, you might listen to podcasts to better appreciate the world around you and boost your concentration. Start with a 15-minute podcast and rewind the audio every time you notice your mind begin to wander. Once you can listen without distractions, up your time to 30 minutes and try again.
You might also try an app like Headspace or join an online community to learn how to meditate. This simple practice requires you to sit in stillness and observe your thoughts so you can respond to stressful situations rather than react. Meditation can help you eliminate jumbled thoughts so your mind is clearer and less anxiety-riddled, too.
Do deep-seated fears keep you up at night? Maybe they visit you in the form of nightmares or gut-wrenching daydreams. Either way, your fears and worries can be deeply troubling and a major component of stress and anxiety. You may even find them completely debilitating if you suffer from paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental illness.
Luckily, tech can help out in this area, too. If you’re determined to overcome your phobias, consider using virtual reality to explore them. Strap on a pair of VR goggles and step into an immersive environment that re-creates your most fearful situation. With help from a psychiatrist or therapist, you can face your anxieties head-on and master them through this techy exposure therapy.
Telepsychiatry and Connection
Comparing yourself to others on social media doesn’t do much in the way of helping your de-stress. However, using technology to connect directly with friends, family and even strangers can be incredibly helpful in your journey to mental wellbeing.
Join an online support group for people with anxiety or chronic stress and share your personal experiences. Exchange tips, stories and other details that might help everyone find healthy coping strategies. You might also connect with a telepsychiatrist or virtual therapist to discuss more personal issues and uncover individualized solutions like prescription medication and mental exercises.
Taking the First Steps
Most people can’t really meditate or de-stress with technology in the long term. Thus, while technology can help reduce stress and anxiety, it’s only a stepping stone on the path to a more peaceful, fulfilling life. Incorporate apps, biofeedback devices and other technologies into your daily routine as you take those first steps towards minimizing worry. Then, once you have a solid system in place, you can wean yourself off of your phone or laptop.
Now that you have the tools to meditate, reflect and de-stress, you can effectively do so without extra help from technology. With this end goal in mind, you can use tech as a tool rather than a crutch.
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