8 Ways Technology Can Reduce Stress
8 Ways Technology Can Reduce Stress
It can be argued that technology has added some stress to our lives. In our professional and social lives, innovation has made it easier to connect with other people – but this can be a blessing and a curse. Does technology help with stress…or is it just causing it?
With laptops, smartphones, and tablets, we are only a call, text, or email away from the demands of our business, long after “normal” business hours have ended. We can sign contracts, deliver sales proposals, or communicate with clients, staff, or employers 24/7. With these tools literally at our fingertips, taking time off to focus on yourself, family, friends, or hobbies can be challenging. Our social lives can be filled with the pressure of “keeping up,” amplified by access to social media sites that are constantly reminding us that our peers are living their best lives, or at least acting like it in photos they post. For people vulnerable to feelings of isolation or loneliness, it’s easy to lose perspective.
While innovation might be to blame for some extra anxiety in our lives, we can certainly turn the tables on it and use technology to our advantage. Cutting edge advances in technology can be used to help us reduce stress, form positive interpersonal connections, and encourage mental and emotional health. Let’s explore some of the ways technology helps with stress.
Stress relief technology comes in many forms, from apps to online games and social media, and everyone has unique needs. The great news is that technology allows you to try these different methods in the comfort of your own home, sitting on a train during a long commute, or during your lunch hour. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you may get some relief from tools available on mobile devices you can use regardless of where you are.
Reducing stress in our daily lives is important for our overall physical and mental health. Reports show a connection between stress and many illnesses. Chronic stress can lower your immune system (making it easier to get sick), raise your blood pressure (leading to heart disease), cause insomnia, and lead to obesity, substance abuse, and depression. While it may be impossible to eliminate stress completely from our lives, there are ways to use some of the innovative technology on the market to help reduce stress and encourage relaxation.
Try a few of the following ways to use technology to reduce stress and stay healthy:
1. Wearable Tech
You may be familiar with products like FitBit and Apple Watch for their physical fitness tracking, but did you know that some of the wearable fitness gadgets on the market can actually help you relax? Apple Watch Series 3 can help you focus on your breathing by replicating a calming breathing rhythm with small vibrating buzzes, while Garmin Vivosport can provide a guided breathing exercise to help center yourself when your heart rate variability (HRV) sensor shows your heart rate and stress level rising. If you thought that wearables only go on your wrist, you might be surprised to learn about Vitali’s “smart bra” that will track your HRV and posture, and help identify what triggers stress for you.
2. Scheduled Meditation
The word “meditation” may conjure images of sitting peacefully on a rock in a field of flowers, taking a vow of silence while you commune with nature, but in today’s world, it can simply be a calming technique during a stressful day or week. Products from companies like Muse will use your brain activity to train you to relax, identify distractions, and teach you how to apply calming techniques to your daily routine. Headspace, a tech company started by a former Buddhist monk trained in meditation across the globe, offers a smartphone app with guided themed meditation sessions that can fit into your hectic day and can help you deal with stress.
While less than positive content can be found on any site that allows the public to post videos, YouTube can actually be a great source of humor, music, and positive imagery. A few minutes watching content that makes you laugh or reminds us of the compassion and love that exists in the world can help you escape from an otherwise stressful day and hit the restart button on your mood. Whether you enjoy listening to a comedian who finds hilarity in everyday struggles or find yourself relaxing as you listen to undiscovered artists or musicians, videos on YouTube can be short and sweet, but can help you take a breath and make you smile long enough to let go of some of the stress you are feeling.
4. Anxiety Management
Anxiety can be challenging, but technology can help you understand and manage it. The SAM app helps monitor your anxiety and behavior, and can connect you anonymously with a community of support and shared experience. Getting support can help alleviate feelings of isolation as you find common ground with other people with similar challenges.
5. Social Media
Despite being a double-edged sword, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can actually help you stay connected with friends and loved ones, leading to better mental and emotional health. While these sites can certainly become hubs of peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, and, unfortunately, bullying for teens, older adults with limited mobility can benefit from the social interaction provided through these sites. Family pages can be created on Facebook, for instance, to help maintain connections with loved ones even when people are spread out across the country. Local community center pages and support groups on Facebook and Twitter can notify you about opportunities to get involved in your community and find people you share similar interests with.
6. Online Fitness
Physical and mental fitness often goes hand-in-hand, and thanks to sites like Daily Burn, you don’t have to go to a gym or purchase expensive equipment. With access to over a hundred 30-minute workouts, you can try a variety of routines for just $15/month. Many celebrity trainers, including Tracy Anderson and Jillian Michaels, offer online streaming subscriptions that will make you feel like you have a personal trainer in the comfort of your own home. Feeling strong, active, and healthy can contribute to mental wellness, reduce the affects of stress, and keep you feeling more balanced and relaxed throughout the day.
7. Relaxing Online Games
Let’s face it – some video games are just not relaxing. They require concentration, quick reflexes, and can make you anxious as you try to beat the clock. Fortunately, there are some online games that will help reduce stress. Games like Little Wheel and Echogenesis create relaxing digital worlds with beautiful, calming graphics. Games like Pigment give you access to a digital version of an adult coloring books that have gained popularity recently. Coloring has been known to reduce stress, enhance concentration, and help you practice mindfulness.
8. Lifestyle Technology
Don’t underestimate the ways that technology helps with stress in our home, or when we are away from it. Make life less stressful with innovative smart-home tools, including security cameras, safety monitors, or even a “smart” washing machine or refrigerator. Anything that makes your life easier or puts your mind at ease while you are away from your home can reduce stress in your daily life.
If you are like most of us and experience stress in your daily life, consider the benefits and ease of stress relief technology. With access to wellness programs, meditations, games, and online ways to connect with the people you care about, you may find ways to use technology to reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed. If your anxiety or stress continues and is affecting your physical or mental health, please discuss your concerns with your physician as soon as possible.