This is the fifth in a 7-part series in why you might consider doing a Technology Detox (a “Techtox”). I hope it gets you thinking about your use of technology and how it may be impacting your health and well-being.
Do You Struggle with Anxiety or Depression?
While there is still not enough information about whether our constant use of technology increases symptoms of anxiety and depression or helps those who are already prone to it cope, we can likely all relate to feeling anxious or depressed after being online for a time.
Here are some common examples:
Comparative thinking: where you end up evaluating your life compared to those you’re connected to online. Perhaps you see that a peer is celebrating a promotion you wished you had gotten, or a former colleague started an exciting position at a well-respected company. If you feel the “career” (or any other) area of your life is not measuring up to yours or others’ standards, it can be demotivating and difficult seeing all the “success”.
Excessive bad news: where you’re bombarded with information about the world landscape (e.g. natural disasters), the current political scene (when not in agreement with your philosophy), wars (or potential for them), people passing on or struggling with illness, etc. An over-exposure of bad news can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.
Finding yourself “uninvited”: this is where you see your group of friends or peers participating in an event you were not privy to. It might bring up feelings of anger and jealousy, but often these situations initiate a cascade into automatic negative thinking. “Why wasn’t I invited? Don’t they like me? Maybe I said something to offend [person]. Why am I always left out? Well I’m not going to bother with them anymore!” and so on.
If you have a diagnosis of any type of anxiety or depression, it may be very useful to inquire about how your use of technology impacts your mood. For some, technology provides a way of connecting with others that feels safer than being in person. Others may find that being online too frequently increases anxiety and/or depression. If we don’t pay attention, we may be aggravating an existing condition without being conscious of it.
Think of taking in online content like physically taking in food: your capacity to mentally and emotionally digest what you take in has a limit. Are you over-eating? Are you binging? How do you feel afterwards—better or worse? Where is the limit?
Want to discover whether technology is increasing your anxiety and/or depression?
Learn how to do a TechTox!