Electronic gadgets were supposed to make our lives easier, but according to new research we found on MSNBC, they’re more likely to leave us feeling more stressed, with even less free time than ever. That’s the gist of a new book called Technostress, by psychologist Dr. Michelle Weil. She says the main reason today’s gadgets stress us out so much is that we rely on them and they fail us.
For example: A new survey found that one-in-three people have experienced at least one problem with a cell phone, laptop computer, and an Internet connection failing in the past year. What happens when your favorite gadget breaks down? Most people report feeling frustrated, stumped, or helpless. They may also report feeling “stupid,” if they think they did something wrong to cause the gadget to not work! Unfortunately, Dr. Weil says those are all feelings associated with being depressed, and the dependency some people display around technology is similar to the dependency addicts feel around drugs or alcohol. The problem is that technology puts your brain in a state of “constant crisis.” A good example is to think of the way you feel when you’re expecting an important phone call. Each time you check your cell phone for a message, your brain secretes cortisol and adrenaline – two chemicals that create a temporary high, followed by a sudden low known as “techno-brain burnout.” Recent studies have found that students who feel this kind of burnout may struggle to stay focused in school, while some adults may display anti-social behavior, or even suicidal tendencies.
So, how can you avoid technostress? First, Dr. Weil says you should always have a back-up plan that doesn’t involve technology. For example: You might plan a date by saying: “In case my phone dies, I’ll meet you at 8.” That way, you won’t spend the day worrying about your cell phone’s battery. Also, try to limit your gadget use to no more than two hours a day. The thinking is that the less time you spend trying to stay in constant touch with your friends, the less likely you’ll be to freak out when one of your gadgets breaks.