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Technology and Mental Health: Finding Balance in a Digital World

We’re living in an era where technology permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. While tech can offer numerous conveniences – such as improved communication, instant access to information, and increased productivity – it also presents significant challenges.

From pressures on social media to digital overload, the constant presence of technology can take a toll on our mental health if not managed effectively. Here at All Points North (APN) London, we know that a holistic approach to mental wellness is the best approach.

That’s why we’re exploring the impact that technology has on mental health while providing strategies for finding balance in a digital world. By addressing the importance of therapy, healthy life practices, and comprehensive therapeutic approaches, we can learn to make technology our friend, rather than our enemy.

The Impact of Technology on Mental Health

The widespread use of technology has led to many different mental health concerns that can be complex to identify, let alone manage. According to one study, multiple consequences were discovered as a result of our constant connection to technology, including psychological issues, sleep problems, social issues, difficulty forming relationships in the real world, and difficulty maintaining focus. Yet, a third of these study participants were not even aware of these negative consequences.

Because this is such an illusive topic, more research is currently underway to better understand the relationship between technology and mental health. However, by beginning to cultivate a growing awareness of these issues, we can learn to have a healthier relationship with technology and mitigate its more damaging effects. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list below to highlight the different ways technology can negatively impact our mental health.

Social Media Comparison

Social media platforms often present curated versions of people’s lives, leading to feelings of inadequacy and comparison. Constant exposure to idealized images and lifestyles can negatively affect self-esteem and contribute to anxiety and depression.

What’s worse is that technologies like video filters, photoshop, and AI can create a completely false sense of reality. This can make people feel like they can’t measure up in their attempt to reach impossible goals.

Digital Overload

The constant bombardment of emails, notifications, and information overload can overwhelm the brain, leading to stress, fatigue, and burnout. Additionally, the inability to disconnect from work or digital devices can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate mental health issues.

Isolation and Loneliness

Despite being more connected than ever before, technology can also contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Over-reliance on digital communication may hinder meaningful face-to-face interactions and weaken social bonds as a result.

Screen Time and Sleep Disruption

Excessive screen time, particularly before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns and negatively impact sleep quality. Poor sleep hygiene can contribute to mood disturbances, cognitive impairment, and increased susceptibility to mental health disorders.

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

The anonymity and accessibility of the internet can facilitate cyberbullying and online harassment, leading to psychological distress and trauma, particularly among adolescents and young adults. Because there is less accountability online, people are more likely to say and do things they wouldn’t otherwise.

Distressing News Stories

With instant access to news from around the world, individuals are often bombarded with overwhelmingly sad realities such as world hunger, war, sex trafficking, and other forms of injustice. The continuous exposure to distressing news can evoke feelings of helplessness, despair, and hopelessness, leading to heightened anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.

Additionally, this relentless cycle of negative information can contribute to a sense of moral fatigue, where individuals feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of global problems and powerless to effect meaningful change.

Strategies for Finding Balance

Unfortunately, we can’t always change the way that technology impacts us negatively. However, we can control how much we choose to engage with it and how we respond to challenges when they arise. To mitigate the negative impact of technology on mental health and find balance in the digital world, individuals should consider adopting the following strategies.

Limit Screen Time

Set boundaries around screen time and establish tech-free zones or periods of time during the day. Use features like screen time tracking and app blockers to regulate usage and promote mindfulness. In this scenario, you’re using technology to work for you, rather than the other way around.

Replace Screen Time With Rejuvenating Activities

Engage in offline activities such as reading, exercising, or spending time in nature. Disconnecting from technology allows for mental rejuvenation and helps restore cognitive balance.

Cultivate Healthy Habits

Prioritize self-care practices such as exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

Nurture Real-Life Connections

Foster meaningful relationships offline by spending quality time with family and friends. Plan and/or attend social activities, outings, or gatherings that encourage face-to-face interaction and genuine connection.

Set Boundaries with Technology

Establish clear boundaries around technology use, both personally and professionally. Communicate your needs and limits to others and advocate for a healthy work-life balance that includes time for rest and relaxation.

This might look like silencing your calls and/or messages after a certain time each day, or letting your boss know you won’t be responding to work-related tasks on your days off.

Change the Kind of Media You Consume

There’s many different media platforms today that provide more positive sources of news. It’s important to remember that not everything is bad. By focusing on the good, we can feel inspired to do our part to make the world a better place.

Therapeutic Approaches for Mental Health

While adopting healthy lifestyle practices to mitigate the negative impacts of technology is enough of an intervention for some, others may benefit from some targeted assistance. If you find or suspect that technology is causing consistent issues in your life, it may be time to consider traditional and/or alternative therapeutic approaches. Some of these approaches may include the following.

Traditional Therapy

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), or interpersonal therapy (IPT), can help individuals develop coping skills, manage stress, and address underlying psychological issues, whether that has to due with technology use or something else.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

If you’re dealing with treatment-resistant depression, ketamine-assisted therapy may be something worth looking into. Ketamine, a dissociative anaesthetic, is administered under medical supervision to induce therapeutic effects on mood and cognition. For many individuals, ketamine-assisted therapy is a powerful tool that can help them break free from previously plaguing negative cycles.

Mental Health Day Programme

Sometimes you just need an entire day (or longer) to reset. Mental health day programmes can be perfect for addressing any lingering mental health issues in intentional ways.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS)

Deep TMS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique used to treat depression by targeting specific areas of the brain associated with mood regulation. By modulating neural activity, dTMS can help alleviate symptoms of depression and improve overall well-being.

Massage Therapy

Sometimes you just need someone to help melt away your stress. After all, the constant use of technology can result in physical pain that massage can help to correct. Massage can be a beneficial intervention for a variety of mental health conditions, making it a great alternative therapy to try if experiencing distress due to technology burnout or other reasons.

Rethinking the Way Technology Impacts Our Mental Health

While technology undoubtedly enhances our lives in many ways, it’s essential to recognise its potential impact on mental health and take proactive steps to find balance when needed. By prioritising self-care, nurturing real-life connections, and seeking therapeutic support, individuals can learn to better navigate the challenges of technology while safeguarding their mental well-being.

Whether through traditional therapy, alternative treatments, or a combination of different approaches, there are numerous resources available to support mental health in an increasingly digital society. By embracing these strategies and finding harmony between technology and mental health, individuals can cultivate greater resilience, happiness, and fulfilment in their lives.

Mental Health Services at All Points North London

If you’re interested in any of these mental health supports, All Points North (APN) London can help. With a commitment to holistic mental health care, APN provides a variety of traditional and alternative mental health services to help people navigate through challenges and lifestyle concerns. If you’re interested in learning more call 0203 984 7699 or complete the online contact form today.

References

  • “40 Best Good News Websites in 2024.” FeedSpot for Journalists, Editors and Reporters, 22 Feb. 2024, journalists.feedspot.com/good_news_websites/.
  • Nixon, Charisse L. “Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health.” Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics vol. 5 143-58. 1 Aug. 2014, doi:10.2147/AHMT.S36456
  • Sleep Problems – Every Mind Matters – NHS, www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/sleep/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.
  • Stefanowicz, Beata. “How Does Technology Affect Our Mental Health? [Study].” Tidio, 2 Sept. 2022, www.tidio.com/blog/how-does-technology-affect-us/.
  • “Study to Examine Effects of Social Media on Mental Health in Young People.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 29 May 2023, www.independent.co.uk/news/science/social-media-mental-health-effects-young-people-study-b2347534.html.
  • “Types of Psychotherapy: UKCP.” UKCP – UK Council for Psychotherapists, www.psychotherapy.org.uk/seeking-therapy/types-of-psychotherapy/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.