With the uprooting of work from office space to home office during COVID-19, the boundaries between the two have blurred and the link between mental health and technology is becoming more important than ever. The constant connectivity between the employees and the employers takes a mental toll on the employees and as any expert Psychiatrist in Lahore would say this overuse of technology is not beneficial for mental health.
Thoughtful use of technology in the workplace, combined with a friendlier work environment can alleviate employee exhaustion, stress and burnout ratio.
How is technology impacting the mental health of the employees?
Aetna International performed a study in 2020 with over 4000 employees across the UK, UAE, Singapore, and the United States with interesting insights related to the impact of technology on employee mental health.
The respondents of the study recognized the negative effects of technology on their mental and physical health. In particular, two-thirds of employees shared that they checked their phones and messages first thing in the morning, or just before bed.
56 percent agreed that overuse of communication platforms due technology was taking a toll on their mental and physical health. Overuse of technology led to 64 percent of people having damaged eyesight, while 70 percent reported they would exercise more if they spent less time on the computer. Even though they worry they use the phone too much (64 percent), they are habituated to checking their phone even on weekends and during holidays for work-related messages (65 percent). Participants agreed (76 percent) that if there is a restriction on work-related use of technology after hours, it would improve their mental health.
At the same time, many employees (80 percent) agreed that use of technology made their work more efficient and helped them complete simple tasks timely, while 84 percent of respondents said that technology enabled them to work remotely and improved their work-life balance.
What are the symptoms of technology overload on mental health?
People who feel run-down due to the ‘always on’ culture feel isolated in real life, with less interpersonal communication. This loneliness can compound the stress and anxiety in life, and make one feel overwhelmed all the time. Many employees lose interest in activities outside of work, leaving them with little to no social life, and diminished interest in their hobbies as well. Consequently, they are often pessimistic and negative, and are unable to focus on their tasks.
How to control this technology-related stress?
Since the root cause of stress is too much exposure to technology, one way to purge it is to schedule ‘screen-free’ time. It can be a few to several hours in a week, where one conditions oneself to avoid logging on to their computers, and even staying away from the phone. The focus should be on being present in the moment, with no distractions.
A good activity to schedule in this screen-free time is working out. Exercise is a great way to reboot the mind and body, releasing the endorphins and making one feel happier and fulfilled. It doesn’t even have to be an hour-long regimen, just a sprint around the block would also do.
To avoid the disruption of sleep, experts recommend no screen time at least an hour before bed. Winding down with a book or journal writing is a healthy alternative.
Mindful meditation is healthy, not only for the body, but also the brain. It teaches one to deal with anxiety, depression, stress and increases focus. You can begin or end your day with meditation and feel the difference it brings to your mental health. Seek help from a professional like Psychiatrist in Karachi to know more about technology detox.