WEB & TECH / NOV. 04, 2014
version 4, draft 4

Technology: The Cause of, And Solution to, Modern Day Work Stress

It is generally accepted that modern life brings with it a higher degree of stress than was previously experienced. Many of the causes of increased stress are traced back, one way or another, to the rise of technology.

Smartphones mean we never need to buy a map again, but we can never really cut ourselves off for peace and quiet. Social Media means that we can share our anecdotes and our images, but it also means we face a constant barrage of others’ successes, and struggle to ’keep up’. 24 hour rolling news keeps us up to date, but the continuous stream of information battles painfully for our attention.

Given the role of technology in causing stress, it is hardly surprising that tech companies are looking to work with medical professionals, counselors and other agencies, to find ways that technology can solve some of our modern ills.

Tech to understand and manage stress

The Pip is a hand held device which provides feedback direct to your connected smartphone, about your stress levels, which it can read from biological markers, such as temperature. By tracking the times you experience stress, you are better able to build a picture of the triggers that impact you - and therefore manage them. Stress is a uniquely personal experience - and here technology can be used to help craft personalised responses to manage the stresses you feel on a daily basis. The device comes with apps you can download to ’play’ discretely on your smartphone to help manage your stress - allowing you to take charge of the way you’re feeling even if you’re sat in the office or in the staff canteen.

’Radar’ to help social media prevent suicide

UK charity The Samaritans have recently launched a new app which runs in the background to your twitter feed, scanning tweets for key words that suggest people you are connected to are struggling to cope. If unusual activity or worrying phrases are picked up, the app sends a link to the tweet directly to you, so you can then decide if you wish to take any action - to contact the person to check they’re OK, for example. The idea behind the app is to simply take information which is in the public domain through social media, and to use technology to prioritise tweets you might later regret missing – for example, if a friend’s cry for help is lost among the constant barrage of other messages.

Sharing and seeking support - in the digital age

Big White Wall is a site where people can go, anonymously, to share the way they are feeling, and seek advice and help. Operated in conjunction with medical professionals, 95% of users report feeling better after using the services provided - which may be as simple as providing a safe place to share the concerns and feelings that users would not be happy talking to family or friends about. Through guided group discussions and live therapy, users can then access the help they need in a way that is much more useful to many people than series of face to face appointments with GPs and specialists.

Stress at work is a serious issue, and one we should all be careful about - for our own mental health and well-being, and that of those around us. Using the ideas listed can help self-manage daily life - although if you’re worried about yourself or someone close to you, do seek medical advice to supplement these technological approaches. The pace of life and work is not slowing any time soon, and it makes sense to embrace new technology to help manage the pressures that come hand in hand with the improvements in life that the digital age has brought us.

 

Image: It really feels like I’m going to crack!!!, by Domenico, via Flickr

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