Technically, It’s Techno Stress

by Sarah Kelly

Technostress is a term coined to describe technology’s impact on the mind and body. While ergonomics studies the interplay between humans and machines, technostress focuses on the habits of humans when new technology is introduced. As a quick example, how a car is used is ergonomics. How the dashboard and sensors are used by its driver could cause technostress.

Causes of Technostress

As described by Lisa A. Ennis in her essay “The Evolution of Technostress,” some causes are

  • Technology improving faster than people can become used to it, especially when combined with a lack of training
  • Workloads increasing
  • Different standards between operating systems, or even programs
  • Fluctuating reliability of hardware and software

Not only has the last year shot us all into the digital arena through increased technological demands, but the boundaries between home and work have become blurred as many now have a 20 foot commute from their bed. Beyond this, creative ways to connect while socially distancing has forever cemented technology’s place in defining what connecting means. We must ask, are these types of connections a good thing?

In “The Bright and Dark Sides of Technostress: A Mixed-Methods Study Involving Healthcare IT”, researchers further divided technostress into more categories. The holistic technostress process model is divided into environmental conditions;the techno-eustress subprocess and the techno-distress subprocess, which sheds light on how we might answer whether or not all this technology is positive.

Technostress Effects on the Mind and Body

The sub processes mentioned above play on the dynamic dance between actual cause and effect of technology and subsequently, our interpretations of the technological interactions. 

Techno-eustress includes positive effects like increased productivity, feelings of accomplishment, and better organizational skills. It is that tingling of connecting to your loved ones in quarantine, it’s the ability to see mask-less emotions on your friends face, the joy of bringing together a team who was previously disjointed through rambling emails, and creating the most positive outlook on our currently disconnected society, 

While techno-distress can be denoted through the downside of technology, it manifests as increased levels of anxiety, increasing workloads due to more training or slower task completion, eye strain, back pain, and a poor work/life balance. It’s the silence of the room when all users have logged off.

Techno Toxins

As all of our lives move more digital, another beast presents itself all-together. The constant bombardment of toxicity in our connections. From that friend who shares all their bad day news on Facebook to that podcast that always seems to be yelling at you. These techno toxins are slowly desensitizing ourselves and conditioning us to bear more of the burden of technostress. Our subconscious is becoming an algorithm for more likes, shares, and shock value.

November 17th is National Unfriend Day which should call our attention to unfriending and unfollowing toxic personalities that could be contributing to negative outlooks and increasing our techno-distress

Coping with Technostress

To fully cope with the stress of technology, any approach must be integrative, tackling the physical, mental, and social aspects of being constantly connected or more relevant, disconnected.

Coping Physically

  • Software like Flux can help prevent eye strain or the deteriorative effects of blue light on the eye
  • Ice packs can help with the pain of eye strain
  • A good foam roller is a must for anyone sitting at a desk for any length of time, and the Chirp Wheel specifically is perfect for storing in the office
  • Stand-up desks
  • Yoga 
  • Massage
  • Never underestimate the comfort of a good gaming chair
  • 20/20/20 rule: look at something 20 feet away every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. 

Coping Emotionally

  • Journaling
  • Therapy
  • Yoga and massage are also great for emotional outcomes. Boardroom stress deserves to be left on the yoga mat!
  • Meditation
  • Grounding techniques
  • Decluttering our feeds from toxicity
  • Increasing our day to day interactions with self through self-care

Coping Socially

  • Scheduling emails
  • Learn new skills from youtube, coursera, udemi, skillshare, etc.
  • Need public programs
  • Changing led lights to establish boundaries
  • Create techno-free time in your home around meals or even whole days!

Whether you’re looking forward to robot housemaids or terrified of our AI overlords, technology is here to stay. Put another way, if we really must vacuum, we cannot just vacuum around the elephant in the room and pretend everyone is coping the same way with technology as with everything else.

Sources

  1. Ennis, Lisa A. “The Evolution of Technostress.” Computers in Libraries, Sept. 2005, 10-12.
  2. Califf, C. B., Sarker, S., & Sarker, S. (2020). The Bright and Dark Sides of Technostress: A Mixed-Methods Study Involving Healthcare IT. MIS Quarterly (MISQ). doi: 10.25300/MISQ/2020/14818.

About the Author

Sarah Kelly brings her life-long love of reading into her written works. She strives to write to engage the imagination in creating a better vision for yourself, infusing creative passion into every keystroke.

Not to be considered a diagnosis, always consult a medical professional before making lifestyle changes or undergoing treatment. 

© The Holistic Hummingbird, LLC 2020   

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