Wales

Living with Technology: how our use of technology can impact on our wellbeing

A young lady working on her laptop out by the sunflowers

By Hilary Green, Sessional Counselor

My phone broke recently, and I raged about it. How on earth was I going to cope? Why would it take three days for my upgrade to come through? THREE DAYS WITHOUT A PHONE!

Actually, by the end of the first day, I had noticed something. Life felt calmer. I felt better. Just more relaxed in general. And in fact, everyone, including me, had managed perfectly well in the absence of my mobile phone.

I started thinking about the impact of technology on my life. On the way in which Facebook can make me feel as if everyone else is having more fun than me, but I keep checking it anyway. Checking it for what? And Facebook isn’t the only thing I check. There are my work emails, which I can take a quick look at any time, day or night. And my own personal emails. And the texts. And my friend is trying to persuade me to have Whatsapp. And there’s Twitter, and Instagram. . .

So this blog is about increasing your own personal awareness of the impact technology has on your life. Just a few thoughts, hopefully prompting a few changes. Because the way in which we use technology is a matter of choice, even though it often doesn’t feel like that.

  • Ask yourself about the way in which you deal with work emails. If you find that you’re checking them outside work, do you need to do that? Does it really help you get ahead with things, or does it actually infect your time off with your work anxiety, without really improving your capacity to deal with it? Perhaps you could reduce the number of times you check them, or avoid checking them within a couple of hours of bed time (because a work email can be very detrimental to sleep…).
  • Social media can be great for keeping us in touch with people, but there are downsides. Facebook presents a kind of advert for people’s lives – the photos suggesting that all your friends are having fantastic holidays, wonderful family time, exciting social lives and so on. If you notice that looking at Facebook often spikes up your adrenaline, or makes you feel that your own life doesn’t measure up, maybe it’s time to reduce its presence in your life at the moment, and focus on enriching your own existence. Think about taking a break from one of your social media for a while, and monitor the impact.
  • Technology can accompany us all around the house, into the car, and out along the pavement. Do we necessarily want it there? Do you, for example, take your laptop up to bed, and surf when you should be sleeping? Or find that it wires you up in the final hour before lights out, so that sleep evades you? Experiment with turning things off. Try taking a walk – or a run – without your headphones.
  • Are you using any of the positive things that technology can offer? It can support our wellbeing in all sorts of ways (hopefully this blog is one of them). There are, for example, apps to track your mood, monitor your food intake, help you run 5K, or do ten minutes of blissful mindfulness meditation. I’ve listed just a few of them below – you might like to give one a try. And if you haven’t connected with a friend for a while, don’t forget about Skype.

Resources/apps

  • Apps and podcasts
  • SAM – an app for monitoring and managing your anxiety
  • Headspace – an introduction to mindfulness
  • MyFitnessPal – free calorie counter app
  • NHS Couch to 5Kpodcasts
  • ReMotivate – Activity Tracker app

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