We live in an increasingly tech-driven society. You likely have a smartphone, as well as a laptop and maybe even a tablet. Thanks to the smart home revolution of recent years, it’s now possible to control everything from your lights to your thermostat through a convenient app. While technology has brought many conveniences to our lives, there’s also a dark side known as “digital burnout.” This term refers to the unique stresses your phone and other devices can create in your life.
The Addictive Nature of Technology
Modern life has created an “always-on” mindset for many people. Their phone is usually the last thing they see before going to bed, and the first thing they reach for when they wake up each morning. If you’ve ever misplaced your devices, you’ve likely felt anxious until you could find them again. Many people are so accustomed to their phones buzzing in their pocket that they feel phantom vibrations. The various alerts you get from your phone whenever you receive a new email or someone posts a status update on Facebook create a dopamine rush in the brain, similar to what you would experience when playing a slot machine or using cocaine. Does it come as any surprise, then, that the average American checks their phone 80 times a day, according to one study?
What Are the Signs of Digital Burnout?
If you suspect you might have digital burnout, or if you are starting to feel as if keeping up with your technology is wearing you down, there are some symptoms to be aware of.
1. Low Energy
Do you find that you frequently feel tired, even after you get a full night of sleep? The tech you rely on during the day could be causing you to toss and turn throughout the night. The screens of these devices emit a blue light that can suppress the hormone melatonin, which is one reason you get sleepy. You can avoid this symptom of digital burnout by making your bedroom a tech-free space. Don’t use any electronic devices in the hour or so before bedtime. Instead, use that time to wind down by doing breathing exercises or writing in a journal. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of relying on your phone to wake you up.
2. Trouble Concentrating
We tend to think that our phones make us better at multitasking because we can respond to an email or text message, check our bank balance and read the day’s top headlines all on one device, but there’s some evidence to suggest phone notifications cause ADHD-like symptoms. To combat this problem, you can designate phone-free blocks of time in each day. If family members or co-workers rely on emails or text messages to get in touch with you, be sure to tell them the windows of time when you will not be available to respond to them immediately. And turn off your notifications – your mental health will improve.
3. Increased Anxiety
Humans didn’t evolve to live with the pressure of being constantly connected. Cell phones have been around for such a short time, but many people believe they wouldn’t be able to live without them. If your phone makes you feel anxious, take frequent breaks during the day where you pursue low-tech hobbies such as playing sports, painting, reading a hard-copy book or meeting friends for lunch. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as there is no screen separating you from the real world.
Is It Time to Make a Change?
Anyone pursuing long-term recovery from a substance use disorder knows the risks associated with chronic stress such as digital burnout. To learn more about how you can take steps toward recovery, discover what we offer at Spearhead Lodge, then contact us today.