Blurred work/life boundaries, sleeping poorly, feeling overwhelmed… too much technology can be a bad thing.

By Mary Shackelford (Passion Coach, Mary Shackelford Wellness Solutions)

Thanks to our cell phones, laptops, iPads and other gadgets, we can work from almost anywhere, stay connected with friends near and far, and stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world at any given second.

For the most part, these gadgets help make our lives easier. None of us would really want to go back to life without these gifts of technology. Yet as with most “treats,” too much of a good thing can end up causing problems. Technology is no different. We can go too far.

The fact is, thanks to modern technology, we’re bombarded with information and remain connected nearly 24/7. We take our phones to the bathroom (admit it, you have at least once!), to church and to the doctor. We even sleep with our phones. I would even be so bold as to suggest some cell phones get more attention in bed than many partners do. In reality, there is little (if any) “sacred ground” where we won’t use our technology.

Technology is not Stressful in Itself; How We Use it Is

As if all the other stresses in life were not enough, thanks to these modern day wonders, now we have a new one to consider: technostress. As the name implies, the underlying source of this “new” source of stress is technology. As you can guess, it’s not really the technology itself that’s the problem. Michelle West and Larry Rosen define technostress as “our reaction to technology and how we are changing due to its influence.”

As this definition implies, it really comes back to us as individuals and the choices we make around interacting with technology.

Constant connection can lead us to taking on too much, feeling overwhelmed, never feeling like we are “finished,” cause blurred work and life boundaries, create a constant feeling of urgency, and result in poor sleep due to overstimulation and constant interruptions — and that’s just naming a few of the side effects. In other words, stress. Stress is damaging to our health and is an underlying cause of nearly every modern day health concern.

Tips for Taming Technostress

Finding ways to manage stress in your life is key to living a happy and healthy life. So how can you tame technology and limit technostress?

Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Track how much time you are spending connected to your technology; Is it out of balance?

  • Turn off alerts on your phone and computer while you are working on a project, spending time with your family or relaxing

  • Schedule set times to check in on social media, emails and voicemails throughout your day

  • Use a timer when online to help avoid losing track of time

  • Unsubscribe to unnecessary email lists

  • Consider deleting Facebook, Twitter and email apps from your phone. Take a breath… just give it a try and see what happens.

  • Hone your online focus. Have a plan for what you are searching for or want to accomplish when you are on the Internet or social media

  • Make it a habit of turning off your electronic gadgets at a set time every night. Ideally at least an hour before you go to bed. After that time… no more checking in, posting or answering the phone (unless the call is a life or death issue… literally.)

  • Here’s the big one. Consider a technology mini-vacation. Plan 24 hours with no technology. Sign off of Facebook, Twitter and your email for an entire weekend.

By following some of these strategies, technology can support and enhance your life without draining you and damaging your health.

Do you have any other tips for better managing your face time with technology?


About the guest blogger: Mary Shackelford is the passion coach. As a coach, speaker and writer, she has devoted her work to empowering women who feel overwhelmed, depleted or who have lost sight of their own dreams.Through her coaching, workshops, writing and seminars Mary shows driven, busy women how to live with passion and freedom. Follow her on Twitter at @maryshackelford.