*(The examples provided below are composite cases, synthesizing disguised information and not any patient in particular)*
We’re living in a politically charged climate. From watching the news to looking up things on your phone, individuals are finding themselves glued to their devices, making sure they aren’t missing out on the latest breaking story.
Using technology to deal with stress reminds me of a former client named Ben. I first met Ben at the beginning of the pandemic. Ben experienced symptoms of anxiety; he was having difficulty managing his responsibilities of working from home and taking care of his family. Ben described feeling overwhelmed, he felt he was always behind on things. He was so worried about the coronavirus or issues related to racial justice, that his only form of relief was to go on his phone. However, the relief that Ben felt was temporary or sometimes made things worse. Going on his phone so much actually made him even further behind on tasks.
So why do people like Ben turn to their phones? One possibility is that our phones are an easy “go to” behavior. The phone is an easy escape when are feeling overwhelmed or dealing with things that feel hard to manage. It is a form of “doing something” that diverts one’s attention. Even though ultimately not productive, using our phones feels better than facing what is challenging, uncertain, or difficult to tackle. So, what do you do if you find yourself feeling like Ben? First, think about these questions:
1. What is my purpose for using social media right now?
2. Am I using it as a distraction?
3. Am I using my phone so much that it gets in the way of things I need to/want to do?
Next, try to think about what issues you would be facing if you weren’t on your phone. Are you:
1. Experiencing stress at work or in your relationships?
2. Not dealing with something challenging?
3. Try taking a break from your phone to be aware of: what am avoiding?
Dealing with stress things head on can be hard. And you might benefit from some help. Ask a friend, family member or find a good therapist to help you face the stuff that you are avoiding. Chances are, whatever the challenge is, it will be more manageable when you face it, especially when you have support from good people in your life.
When my clients have implemented these strategies into their routine, they found that their symptoms of anxiety and depression were lowered and that they were able to be present in work and at home. As for Ben, he decided to delete his Facebook app off his phone. He would only go on the site at scheduled times throughout the week. Ben found that by being present and confronting his stress head on, he was more able to understand what was bothering him and use more direct ways of solving problems. Rather than avoiding what was overwhelming, he was able understand why the task felt unmanageable, and with the help of therapy, find new ways and resources to manage his responsibilities.
If you are looking for additional help for dealing with the challenges in your life – go to our website. We have excellent therapists who are ready to help you live a more satisfying and manageable life.
Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD, LMSW
Therapist & Start My Wellness CEO
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