At The Digital Mental Health Project, we work to increase the public’s literacy regarding how everyday digital technology can support healthier stress levels. Here we want to talk about how, and why this literacy is so important in this current COVID-19 crisis.
StressTech Implications of COVID-19
The COVID-19 situation is one where the lack of a vaccine means our control is most manifest in: 1) reducing viral exposure, and 2) boosting our immunity through good community and personal health habits. One of the important aspects of boosting our immunity is maintaining a healthy stress level. Here is where the adoption of a personal StressTech portfolio and practice for yourself can help you, your family, your community and organization during this very stressful time.
Crisis Tempts Us to Maladaptive Tech Use
As we continue witnessing the increasing number of COVID-19 lockdowns and advisories, there is a corresponding increase in mental and emotional distress, anxiety, loneliness, etc. Many of us will be tempted to drown ourselves in our digitaltech and social media as a means of distraction, disconnection, and dissociation. This is the default approach we have most often taken as a society and in these current circumstances, this approach will only damage us more.
There is a Better Adaptive Option for Tech Use
As an alternative, our StressTech approach encourages use of smartphones, mobile apps, social media, wearables, etc, as a means of mindfulness, connection, and productive engagement. This approach requires a different sort of skillfulness which can be developed into a habit of using our digital tech in a health-supportive manner. Among the most meaningful and supportive roles tech can play in stress management are: a) education, b) training, and c) behavior tracking. As we write, the tech that can educate and train us about, as well as track our responses to stress triggers, are mostly at our fingertips. Along with using tech for education, training and tracking, it is also important to use it in a way that matches our digital lifestyles. We all have digital lifestyles but few of us think about how to leverage this lifestyle to improve our stress levels.
Stress Management Can Be Matched to Digital Lifestyles for Healthier Stress Levels
One’s digital lifestyle consists, at the least, of the digital devices, channels, and content they favor and use most.
- Devices span from laptops to tablets, to smartphones, to wearables to voice assistants and even cars, i.e., Apple and Android CarPlay.
- Channels span email, chat messaging, social media, video, podcasts, even AI robots (as chatbots and voice assistants) and mixed (augmented & virtual) reality.
- Content spans a variety that includes educational, inspirational, news, conversational, longitudinal, etc, and these are not mutually exclusive.
When one has a proper understanding of their most common and preferred devices, channels and content, it becomes that much easier to customize a successful StressTech approach that fits how you manage your stress either through relationships, sleep, exercise, diet and/or relaxation.
The good news is that in all of these stress management areas there is a stresstech solution available today. At The Digital Mental Health Project, we have developed a 5 question assessment that aids one in selecting an appropriate StressTech portfolio for themselves.
Let me provide a personal instance walking through these 5 assessment questions.
- When it comes to sources of stress, I experience it most often via emotional, social and (sedentary) physical sources.
- I most readily manage stress through improved relationship skills, and healthy sleep, diet, exercise and relaxation practices. In each of these areas, I use ongoing education, training, and tracking to improve my chances of staying healthy. Before we had digitaltech, I used these practices. Digitaltech has only enhanced the effectiveness of these practices.
- When it comes to digital devices, I favor mobile, wearable and virtual reality, and so use mobile devices (iPad tablet, Android phone), wearables (Spire Stone, Muse Brain-sending headband) and virtual reality (Oculus Quest) in my StressTech regimen.
- When it comes to digital channels, I favor the channels of chat messaging, video and voice and audio, my StressTech regimen makes use of WhatsApp, chatbots, videoconferencing (with friends and colleagues) and podcasts.
- Finally, when it comes to digital content, I favor conversational, educational, inspirational and longitudinal. This makes for my using: a) conversational content like discussions I have with colleagues on social media, videoconferencing and chat, b) educational and inspirational content like lessons and stories I find on websites, social media and in apps and wearables, and, c) longitudinal content like the trends and insights I gain from tracking apps and wearables I use.
As you can see consideration of these 5 questions allow me to compile a set of StressTech solutions and practices that have made for a more consistently healthy stress level for myself. When you answer these same questions, your portfolio of StressTech solutions and practices will look different than mine but will be a better fit for you and more likely to succeed.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can leverage a StressTech approach, we are happy to help. Please reach to us at The Digital Mental Health Project, or firstname.lastname@example.org, where we produce talks and workshops, for one-on-one and group, live and virtual, settings. to help with the adoption of this healthy approach.
Be well, and resilient, during this global health crisis.