Technology makes our lives better in many ways, making us more productive, giving us access to cheaper resources, and even extending our lifespans. But our human minds and bodies didn’t evolve to deal with the effects of long-term technology usage, and accordingly, tech has the power to make our lives worse as well.
How Tech Makes Us Anxious
One of the most prevailing problems here is technology’s tendency to make us more anxious, sometimes spurring the development of full-blown anxiety disorders.
These are just some of the ways in which it happens:
- Information overload. The internet connects us to resources all over the world, and it’s easy to think that more information is always better, but there’s a dark side to that availability: information overload. When we’re presented with too much information, or too many options, we become paralyzed with uncertainty, and a desire to always learn more.
- Notifications. Everything seems to send out a notification, from our email to our social media, to the apps we use on a regular basis. With a constant stream of interruptions, it’s hard to focus on our most important work, and we get the sense that we’re pulled in dozens of directions at any given time.
- Dealing with uncertainty. You can look up anything in an instant, whether it’s the name of the actor in the movie you’re watching or how to get to the drug store in a new city. While this accessibility is usually a good thing, it also makes us less comfortable with uncertainty in our daily lives. We want an immediate answer for everything, so we feel anxious whenever we don’t have one.
- Social isolation. With tech, you can buy things and handle your responsibilities without ever interacting with other humans. Unfortunately, this leads to social isolation, and makes us less confident when engaging with other people in a real-world environment. Even socially competent people can struggle with social anxiety after being used to purely online interactions.
- Public judgment. Making a social media post leaves you vulnerable to worldwide judgment; in an instant, thousands of people could see into your life. This virtual vulnerability can also contribute to our feelings of anxiety.
- Comparison. On social media, we often see our friends and acquaintances posting about the amazing vacation they’re about to have, or the new promotion they got at work. It’s easy to compare our lives to theirs, filling us with anxiety and a kind of existential dread.
What to Do
If you’re reeling from the effects of tech-driven anxiety, there are a number of strategies you can try to lessen its effects:
1. Try anti-anxiety remedies. First, consider taking a natural supplement, like Blue Lotus. This Egyptian herb has been used in Eastern medicine for hundreds of years and is said to promote a calming, sedative effect. It can make your social interactions much easier and put you in a better mood overall.
2. Turn off your notifications. Head to your device’s settings and turn off every notification you can stand to turn off. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have any such interruptions; you can access your apps individually, on your own terms, to learn new things or check for new messages. This way, your life will be less interrupted, and you’ll feel a better sense of control. You’ll also have more natural exposure to uncertainty.
3. Narrow your exposure to social media. While social media can be beneficial, it’s also a major opportunity for jealous comparisons and other anxiety-inducing behaviors. Instead of cutting it out of your life completely, try to narrow your exposure; for some people, that may mean narrowing the number of people you follow. For others, it may mean deleting half your current platforms.
4. Go on an information diet. You could also go on an “information diet,” a temporary or permanent lifestyle change meant to expose you to less information overall. This requires you to evaluate the quality of each source of information in your life, including apps and websites you frequent, and eliminate the majority of them. Less news and less information may actually make you feel better.
5. Expose yourself to uncertainty. Finally, try to expose yourself to more experiences where the outcome is uncertain. That may mean getting yourself intentionally lost in the woods, or talking to more strangers on your daily commute. It will help you learn to cope with uncertainty in a healthier way.
Because tech tends to reward us for using it, many of these strategies require a significant amount of self-discipline—but they’re worth the effort. Start with one, and gradually make your way to the others. Chances are, you’ll start to feel their positive effects in your life, and you’ll be motivated to continue with the process.