Dr. Edward Phillips answered:The modern world fractures our attention into ever-smaller shards. E-mail chimes, iPhones buzz, Twitter tweets, Facebook beckons, land lines and cell phones ring, sometimes in unison and always in the midst of other tasks. To deal with stress caused by technology, start by trying one of these options once a week. Over time, work up to several days—or all seven—by adding another day each week.
- When working on a task, turn off e-mail chimes, hold calls, and squelch urges to check on your Facebook friends for a planned amount of time, such as one to two hours.
- Deliberately seek places where you must unplug: a religious sanctuary, yoga class, or swimming laps in a pool.
- Choose an hour a day when nothing electronic, wired or wireless, can intrude. Unplug phones, turn off chimes, flip on voice mail and let electronic messages arrive unannounced.
The modern world fractures our attention into ever-smaller shards. E-mail chimes, iPhones buzz, Twitter tweets, Facebook beckons, land lines and cell phones ring, sometimes in unison and always in the midst of other tasks. To deal with... More
- Better still, pick a longer span of time to unplug and enjoy each moment of peace. During dinner? After sunset? At 10 p.m.? One entire weekend day?
Here's how to tap into a smartphone's stress-reducing talents (and dodge its distractions):
Don't ignore those around you. When you're with family, colleagues, or your main squeeze, don't text, tweet, or talk to other folks. John Mayer, who recently left Twitter, said he had turned into a "tweetaholic." He—and you—can find relaxation if you reach out and touch someone real.
Dial up one close pal. We know you're proud of your stable of 350 online friends (including those long-lost 7th-grade lunch buddies), but one in 10 Facebook users feels anxious about whether their BFF list is growing or not. (Lady GaGa has 10 million!) To turn your smartphone into a stress eraser, log out and dial up one special someone. Talking with friends (especially for women) stimulates the release of the stress-busting hormone oxytocin, so use your phone to reach out to one friend (even make plans to meet—in person!), and destress.
Avoid information overload. Create to-do and to-read lists by taking advantage of one of the many cheap, easy-to-use smartphone apps that help you organize your day's calendar or set up a unified information feed (RSS—Really Simple Syndication) that combines the news you want from many sources into one, easy-to-browse list. Instead of feeling disorganized or overwhelmed (it can happen if you're always checking the news, sports scores, your favorite blogs, etc.), you'll feel in control—a guaranteed way to reduce stress.
Download a relaxation app. Ahhh ... If you're doing the multiscreen tango—TV, plus computer and smartphone—you're not alone. Eight in 10 Americans talk or text while watching TV. The trouble with that? Multitasking boosts levels of wire-you-up stress hormones, so tune out occasionally and turn your smartphone into a spa-quality relaxation tool.
Don't sit too long. Are you sitting more because you're tied to a desk or chair when checking your digital devices? Set a "get up and move" alarm to go off at intervals. This will help remind you to take an activity break—even if that's just walking in place. Walk around your desk, office, the parking lot, or your house or yard. Talk while you walk if you must. You're going for at least 10,000 steps a day. (That's a little more than 5 miles.)Here's how to tap into a smartphone's stress-reducing talents (and dodge its distractions): Don't ignore those around you. When you're with family, colleagues, or your main squeeze, don't text, tweet, or talk to other folks. John Mayer, who... More