You may have noticed that we are all surrounded by tech. We use it for work, for entertainment, and to keep in touch with our friends and family. It can feel, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, that you are tethered to your many gadgets. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the constant use of technology, you’re not alone. We even have a name for it: technology fatigue.
What is tech fatigue and how can we deal with it while living in a world perpetually steeped in new technology?
What is tech fatigue?
Technology fatigue happens when you find yourself constantly surrounded by technology to the point that it becomes overwhelming and exhausting. Most of need a certain amount of technology—and enjoy having it—but after constant use, screens have a way of mentally tiring us out with their constant demands on our attention. The challenge lies in learning how to make the most of all our technology without allowing it to overwhelm us.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of being constantly connected. The internet makes it easy to make friends around the globe, which means notifications and messages are often flooding in at all hours of the day. Instead of letting yourself get overwhelmed, take frequent breaks from technology. Once or twice a day, make it a point to mute your phone, close the laptop, and do something else, anything else. You can even set a couple of daily reminders (yes, on your phone) to prompt you to walk away, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
Unless you’re working out with a VR headset or biking through virtual races with other Peloton users, being immersed in technology means that we spend a lot of time in a chair or behind a desk. This sedentary lifestyle can lead to a number of different injuries or health problems, from repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel, to back problems from poor posture. Sometimes the best thing we can do to prevent tech fatigue is to literally step away by taking a walk, run, or bike ride around the neighborhood. It’s good for your overall health and it forces you to take a tech break.
People may be able to access you at all hours thanks to the tech we carry around with us—but that doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to do so. Set boundaries—and enforce them. The types of boundaries you set will vary, depending on your job and how you stay in contact with friends and family, but as an example, you might decide not to answer any work messages before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m., you might vow to never bring devices with you to the dinner table, and you might set the phone down to charge in another room two hours before bed so you’re not tempted to spend the better part of the evening doom-scrolling.
Apple devices have a Focus mode that allows you to block notifications from specific contacts or apps (you can view our full guide here). Android’s Do Not Disturb mode allows you to do the same. It may require some tweaking to ensure that you’re not missing important messages during work hours, but it’s a valuable tool to help you establish boundaries to prevent tech fatigue.
The internet is always there, ready to share another sad, stressful, or otherwise negative news story throughout the day and night. If you find your tech is increasing your anxiety and stress, practicing mindfulness and meditation can help.
If you’re not sure where to start, apps like Calm, Headspace, and a host of other options offer guided meditations that can take you through the basic steps. Music services like Spotify also have a collection of guided meditations on all sorts of different topics. Pick a path, and get started.
Start a tech-free hobby
Sometimes, we need something that keeps us entertained and engaged without requiring us to boot up a computer or spend time staring at a screen. Take up a tech-free hobby, such as knitting, doing puzzles, or learning how to play guitar. Choose something that engages your mind and keeps your hands busy—and keeps you away from your phone or computer.