“By giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg
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I, like most people from my generation, remember the days when our digital world of today didn’t exist. Communicating and socializing have taken on different forms, and our world is more accessible than ever. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming just how available and connected we are. It has gotten to the point that we now have to consciously set aside device-free times.
Having said this, I admittedly appreciate our current day digital connectivity and welcome the need to balance screen time with real-life time. We seem to be gradually shifting our point of gratitude for our devices, where we now see them as albatrosses, as opposed to considering how our childhood versions of ourselves would have seen them as luxuries.
So, instead of looking upon our digital devices as causing stress, let us take a look at how we can utilize them to relieve stress. Consider the following benefits:
#1 – Stay connected
Let’s face it – we are more connected than ever. Scrolling through my Twitter feed late Friday afternoon, I became immediately aware of the crisis unfolding in Paris. It was early on in the attacks so more became apparent as time went on. Being connected to the rest of the world can be reassuring and takes out some of the uncertainty that often leads to stress.
Other examples of connectivity include e-mail, texting, FaceTime, skyping and gaming. Having family and friends that live in different parts of the country, my family appreciates being able to use all of these modes of communication. Even with my work, I can accomplish a lot through e-mail. My 16 year old son uses gaming with his friends, where they can talk and laugh over microphones, as a way to unwind and de-stress.
#2 – Get creative
Blogging, writing and posting content online, has been a very effective way for me to channel both my passions and interests. People blog for many different reasons, but the creative benefits are most striking. Before the internet, blogging wasn’t even a consideration, nor ebooks, leaving publishing content to hard print. Some may argue that a lot of the information online is not worth reading or considered incorrect, however, the corollary is that a lot more quality content is being published that wasn’t before. The opportunity for creative expression is endless from posting photography to selling homemade treasures on Etsy.
#3 – Be social
As a social media advocate, I fully recognize that as with any social interactions, it can have downsides. For physicians, getting social online can expand your knowledge base, opportunities and medical connections. Maintaining professional behaviour is essential. Twitter is my social media of choice so I try to remain active and engaging in order to obtain the most benefit. Scrolling through my Twitter feed can be relaxing for me – it is all in how we approach it. For others, socializing on Facebook is enjoyable. Even if we are not face-to-face, some online interactions can translate into real-life relationships.
#4 – Find an app
You name it, and more often than not, an app already exists for it. Some of these apps are very useful and can help in our stress-relieving efforts. For instance, Headspace and Simply Being offer guided meditation and mindfulness. The Apple Health app allows you to track your health and fitness. The Gratitude Journal and MoodKit are self-improvement, happiness-inducing apps.
Can you see the stress relieving properties of digital devices and the internet in your own life?
In signing off, I just wanted to share this message I saw on Twitter from celebrity Mark Ruffalo: