By Paula Atherill

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. This is a very serious subject and there are so many elements of life that contribute to maintaining good mental health. Work, business and your career are obviously a big part of that.

I regularly hear women say “I’m so overwhelmed” when it comes to technology. This is on top of all the business tasks that they are juggling: sales, marketing, networking, delivering, customer service, accounts, business operations and so much more.

The majority of our clients are women so I will refer to ‘women’ throughout the rest of this blog, since that is our direct experience.

Choices, choices…

Technology has a knack of being the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The wide breadth of technology choices is having the opposite effect of ‘efficiency’ on women running their own businesses.

When you couple this with the frustration that occurs when tech breaks or goes wrong, it really does get the steam pumping out! The last thing we need are more choices in our lives. Most of us want to know what the best options are and to be able to trust recommendations that are made.

Sadly, in most cases, it’s the trust that prevents us from taking a recommendation rather than becoming overwhelmed by trying to ‘figure’ it all out ourselves.

It takes a long time to build up trust so a lot of women are reluctant to go to traditional IT companies because of the lack of unknown and the possible costs associated. It’s a bit like taking your car to the garage – is the mechanic really telling the truth?

How you can mitigate overwhelm

There’s no easy or fast solution to reducing overwhelm but the very first place that you can start, when it comes to technology, is discipline. Don’t be tempted by ‘shiny pennies’ every two minutes.

Yes, there are new products and apps that state “we can fix your whole world in 15 minutes if you trial us now” but really… NO THEY CAN’T. Don’t be distracted by all of these bold headlines. The less tools that you work with, the easier your life becomes.

Addiction to technology and ‘updates’ is also a huge challenge for most of us but again – discipline is the answer here. Set your own rules. When should you turn off your notifications? Do you really need to have your email app notifying you of every single email that’s coming in? Can’t you look in your app when you choose?

Can you leave your phone/tablet out of reach for a while?

If Sweden can run a live trial of a six-hour working week to improve wellbeing then surely we can all trial a little bit of time each day without technology. Anything is possible.

What about turning off your sound notifications whilst you focus for a couple of hours? This ‘clean’ thinking time will work wonders and you’ll achieve so much more.

Overwhelm can very quickly lead to burnout. Surely technology isn’t worth that?

My personal mantra with any technology or app, when it goes wrong – which it will, is “it’s  technology, it’s not perfect, it does break down. Accept that it breaks”. When you say this to yourself it makes it so much easier to look at the fact that it’s ‘broken’ (usually very temporarily).

Technology and Mental Health

Coming back to the main reason for writing this post; Mental Health is obviously so many more things than overwhelm about technology. It has many complex factors which must be treated carefully by an experienced professional.

There are many studies around health and technology and direct links have been shown. For example, this quote is taken from Digital Responsibility, Taking Control of Your Digital Life:

Technology can have a large impact on users’ mental and physical health. Being overly connected can cause psychological issues such as distraction, narcissism, expectation of instant gratification, and even depression.

This blog is about the small things that we can control and recognising the things that are very important to our ‘everyday’ lives but on the grand scale of things are no big deal. Technology is there to serve us, not to control us. We can easily take control back and reduce the likelihood of burnout a little bit.

If you’d like to read more about burnout specifically and how you can deal with burnout then take a look at this blog by Anj Handa.

I’ll leave you with this thought: It’s only technology, you don’t need it all and when it breaks it can be fixed. Keep things simple.

Paula Atherill is a Director of Creative Analysis Ltd and a member of Inspiring Women Changemakers.

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