How to Avoid Technology-Related Stress
Its tempting to cozy up with your Kindle Fire or iPad as you drift off to dreamland, but researchers say we should turn off TVs, laptops, and backlit tablets an hour before bed, since exposing yourself to light-emitting gadgets at night suppresses your bodys production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
That makes it harder to get your zzzs, leaving you less than sharp the next day. Same goes for people calling and texting you in the middle of the night. Ask your friends and family to resist contacting you after a certain hour unless its an emergency, silence your email and text alerts, and put the phone out of arms reachunder the bed or upside-down on the dresserso its not glowing in your face all night but you can still hear it if it rings. Checking your phone the minute your eyes open in the a.m. also sets a frazzled tone for the day, so try to resist reaching for it first thing.
Ease into gadget-free time
"People now pull out their BlackBerry instead of daydreaming or reading," Dr. Hallowell points out. "Theres little time where youre awake with yourself and thinking, pondering life." So try to cut back on techbut note that "you will have ‘withdrawal," warns Marsha Lucas, PhD, a neuropsychologist in Washington, D.C. "Your nervous system has gotten reset to having a lot of stimulation, and you have to recalibrate so that less feels good again." Baby steps first: Try leaving the cell in the car while you hit the gym or the store, and then work up to running errands sans phone. It wont kill you to be inaccessible for an hour or two, and you may just accomplish those tasks faster without the constant pinging. If you get work calls and emails at night that you have trouble ignoring, create "free times" where you dont check them.
To avoid feeling like youre leaving correspondents in the lurch, set an out-of-office message: "I will be unreachable from 6–9 p.m." This way, youll get space to develop ideas you might never have had while buried in your computer.
At the very least, clear your head by getting outside for a few minutes, since research shows that being in nature is the most powerful antidote to the drain of technology. One study found that even having a plant at your desk increases attention so you can do better work.
Keep a quiet car
Staying off your phone while driving is a no-brainer: Studies show that texting and talking in the careven hands freecould be as dangerous as driving drunk. But some tech actually helps us pay attention on the road, says University of Kansas psychologist Paul Atchley, PhD. Listening to a GPS system is safer than looking down at a map, and backseat DVD players keep kids from distracting you. Just program the GPS and start the DVD before you hit the road. Then enjoy the ride, free of rings and beeps (at least the kind inside your car).