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Do You Suffer from Digital Fatigue?

Maribel Muñoz
March 29, 2021

We cannot live without technology, but side effects might be more serious than you think.

Minutes after you wake up, you are already checking your inbox, scanning through unwanted emails, and scrolling through your newsfeed. Later, you find yourself looking at the latest trends on LinkedIn and commenting on a few posts, then diving into a mandatory parade of presentation slides and data graphics. In between tasks, you answer a few urgent emails, and take a little break by checking Instagram and watching that cute video of your niece dancing to Bon Jovi - don´t forget to give it a “love.” With a cup of coffee in hand, you finish your presentation, do a few video conferences, and review business data on a never-ending spreadsheet. By the time you gaze up and want to do something else, it's already too late: you have spent the whole day looking at a screen. Your eyes are almost coming out of their orbits. You are suffering from digital or tech fatigue.

Admit it, you don't know how to live without your computer or your cell-phone or, as a matter of fact, anything that's not connected to wifi. And if you are totally honest, you also don't know how to read without scanning, buy something without looking at reviews, contact someone without texting first, or cook without checking an online recipe. We live in a technologically polluted world. The toxic element here is the amount of online activities you perform within a given day, and how dependent you are on them. 

The exponential technological growth that has taken place during the last two decades of our lives has brought with it unprecedented advancement. Not only has it had an impact on the way we do business, it has also changed the way we develop relationships, maintain our households, and use transportation. But these advantages don´t come without damaging effects.

Information overload seems to be incredibly common these days. We often have no other choice to be in touch with our loved ones but through the use of online platforms.  We are so hooked on tech that it is very hard to disconnect and live tech-free, even for short periods of time.


Before we realize how toxic the constant use of screen time can be, we might already be suffering its long-term symptoms. 

According to research conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden among 4,100 young adults, heavy use of cell-phones and computers leads to an increase in sleep disorders, stress, and mental illnesses like depression. Intensive use of computers late at night and not taking any breaks from screen time only makes matters worse. There is scientifically proven correlation between screen exposure and lack of sleep: the light produced by screens, commonly known as blue light, prevents our bodies from producing melatonin, which is a friendly hormone known for helping us sleep. It also affects our circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock our body has to regulate or schedule certain functions, including sleep cycles.


Maybe it is time you check your own habits and the impact they are having on your personal health.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be heading down the path of digital burnout:

  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes
  • Stiff head, shoulders or back
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Poor levels of concentration
  • Low energy, despite not doing physical work
  • An overwhelming feeling about routines and repetitive days
  • Irrational behavior at times

So how can you stop the negative cycle and start living a healthier life? Considering the current times and our daily exposure to technology, living less connected can sure be a real challenge. But with a bit of self-discipline, you can live a healthier life. 


Here’s what you can do to decrease digital overload.

Try one or more of the following suggestions, at least for a few days. I am sure you will, at the very least, sleep a few more hours than usual.

  1. Check your email only once or twice a day. This practice is totally doable, and more common than you think. Some people include a note about this in their email signatures, advising senders to call if the matter is urgent. 
  1. Simplify your Inbox: Scan through your incoming messages efficiently, setting any unwanted mail aside immediately. There are many strategies to do this. Ideally, you want to find a system that reduces irrelevant messages in a simple, automated way.

    Gated
    is an innovative tool that keeps unwanted email from reaching you in the first place.  By using an Allow List to identify email addresses that you already know and trust, you immediately can ignore a large volume of messages from unknown senders. If they want to reach you, they can make a donation to a charity of your choice. This simple tool helps keep your inbox clean, make your inbox messages more relevant, and does good for charity along the way.
  1. Take a 5-10 minute break for every hour spent at your computer. Even if it is just to get up from your chair and stretch a bit. You can also go get a glass of water; hydration is another wonderful solution, and equally beneficial!
  1. Set a time to go outside and exercise every day. You don't need to be ready to run the next marathon; having a brisk walk will do. Try moving without music, so you can actually realize what silence and nature sounds like. If music keeps you moving, go ahead and enjoy it.
  1. Turn off your screen 1 or 2 hours before bedtime. Switch it off! To avoid peeking at your cell phone while in bed, buy a regular alarm clock and keep your phone away in a different room. And it´s not just the cell-phone that needs to stay off limits: you should take ALL ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES out of your bedroom. Instead of turning a device on as you are heading to bed, try a warm bath or a good book - yes, one with printed letters on actual paper.
  1. Keep push notifications to a minimum. Do you really need to know what's cooking in every single app? You don't! The world will not come to an end if you watch that funny video a few hours later - or if you don't watch it at all.

Considering how hooked we are on electronic devices, apps, online platforms, and all things with a screen, this might be easier said than done. However, your life will change for the better the minute you become aware of the possibility of living in a simpler, healthier, and disconnected mindset.


It is not always easy, but taking small steps helps.

After working in technology for many years, and using many apps during my personal time, I realized living in a state of constant connection was making me anxious and affecting my sleep quality. By being conscious of digital overload and taking small actions during the day, I can now walk through a park without constantly looking at my phone, noticing the lovely trees and flowers around me. It is time to lift our heads and connect with the world in a different way.


Maribel Munoz is a content specialist and digital marketing expert. After working in the online and tech industry for over ten years, she is committed to making the digital space more meaningful and human. Maribel’s focus on finding the balance between technological advancements and a healthy lifestyle encourages and inspires the Gated team.  



Sources: 

https://www.growthinmotion.co.za/digital-fatigue/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/technology-depression_b_1723625