Can the over-use of your technology be the cause of your anxiety? The answer is a resounding YES! There are a number of previous studies that suggest a link between the clinical symptoms of psychiatric disorders (including both personality and mood disorders) and the use of technology. In fact, according to new research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders where 563 adults were sampled (N = 563), researchers found that the more time spent using social media, the greater the user’s symptoms of anxiety (Vannucci, Flannery & Ohannessian, 2017). So, what does that mean for us, and how can we institute changes that will have a positive impact on our mental well-being?
Like everything else in life, the key is balance. Ask yourself the following questions: “Am I sleeping with my phone? Am I waking up and spending time scrolling social media before I speak to my spouse, children or family? Do I set my phone down on the table instead of putting it away when I’m meeting friends for dinner? How many hours per day am I spending scrolling my social media sites? And finally, am I taking my phone with me every time I use the restroom? The answer to these questions should give you some indication of just how connected, or “over-connected” you are to your technology devices. Technology is a powerful tool that has greatly increased our efficiency and connectedness in many positive ways. However, if we fail to institute healthy boundaries for ourselves with technology, just like anything else, too much can quickly turn into an addiction that causes harm to both us, and those we love.
So how can we institute more balance in our interactions with technology? How can we make technology work for “us,” rather than against us? Here are just a couple of quick tips you can try:
- Give yourself permission to unplug! Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest that you delete all of your social media apps and deactivate all of your accounts! You can try something as simple as giving yourself a time limit for use each day. For example, if you normally get home, sit on the couch and mindlessly scroll for 5 hours straight, try allowing yourself just 1 hour to mindlessly scroll. Perhaps with the other 4 hours you could try meeting up in person with the people you are connecting with via social media, and work on building closer friendships.
- Reclaim hobbies or interests!Allowing your mind the time to be less stimulated will also allow it the time to notice the world around you and will encourage and stimulate creativity. Spend some time thinking about the things or activities that used to bring you joy. Did you used to enjoy drawing, writing, taking walks outdoors? Incorporate some of those things back into your day with all of your new-found time!
Begin there and see how you feel! Humans are created for relationship; for touch, for deep meaningful connection. The precious time spent engaging in face-to-face relationships with friends and family members is time that helps to foster those deep bonds that simply cannot be achieved over social media.
Again, there are many positive aspects to social media and technology, including the ability to keep up with family members that live out of state and to Face Time friends near and far…and let’s not forget the ability to Google that new red spot that showed up on your leg! I’m kidding, I don’t recommend Googling health care issues – the results will just scare you! But balance is good. Harmony is good. Peace of mind is good. Reinstate some today!