Technostress: How music can help

Let’s face it — Zoom fatigue has turned into everything fatigue. For many countries, April is a month where we acknowledge stress, the effects stress can have on us mentally and physically and ways we might address it. There are so many types of stress I could point to during 2021 Stress Awareness Month. Even the idea that there are various classifications and reasons for stress is stressful in and of itself. So I have decided to highlight a form of stress that you may be experiencing unknowingly: technostress. For the past year, I, like so many people, have been working and studying remotely. To put it plain and simple, I stare at a screen of some sort all day, more often than not, my laptop screen. I saw this tweet the other day, and it spoke to me on a spiritual level.

another day of staring at the big screen while scrolling through my little screen so as to reward myself for staring at the medium screen all week.

Twitter / @delia_cai

It feels like many of us live in a constant Black Mirror episode. Black Mirror is a British dystopian science fiction anthology television series created by Charlie Brooker, which looks at the unimagined consequences of new technologies in contemporary society. I hadn’t heard of the term technostress pre-COVID, but the concept has been around for awhile. The widely-researched term technostress, commonly accredited to psychologist Craig Brod, was introduced in 1984, the same year the world gained the legendary Macintosh. Hairstyles and shoulder pad popularity have changed since the ‘80s, but the meaning of technostress hasn’t. As far as I understand, technostress is characterized by how people react to technology. It can refer to the psychological stress and lowered sense of wellbeing that arises when either a person is consistently exposed to too much digital information and multitasking, or they struggle to healthily cope with difficulties brought on by (new) technology.

A review included in the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences says that technostress can lead to “antisocial behaviour, anxiety, depression, heart disease, headaches, and muscle cramps.” This sound familiar?

Switch on to switch off

COVID has brought with it increased levels of distress, ultimately leading to potential mental and emotional burnout for some (or many) people. The cycle continues when common symptoms of technostress manifest in irritability, cynicism, and panic attacks.

But the source of technostress can be the same thing we use to de-stress — technology (or music via a technological device). Listening to relaxing music has been shown to stimulate the dorsal amygdala, connected to the ‘positive emotion’ network. Another study showed that biological indicators of stress (increased cortisol hormone levels, heart rate, and blood pressure, etc.) were also reduced by listening to relaxing music. So what is relaxing music? Well it differs from person to person, but there are some general principles. Try something with a slow beat, preferably instrumental and avoid repetitious or catchy lyrics and melodies. We can get so used to our stress that it feels normal. I especially become aware of this when someone asks something along the lines of, “are you stressed?” When I start to think about that, sometimes I don’t know what it’s like not being stressed.

It’s important to be aware of technostress induced mental fatigue and potential pandemic burnout – but it’s also important to realize that you can incorporate relaxation practices, such as listening to music, into your lifestyle management plan, your wellness or recovery plan or your everyday life.



Elizabeth Wulf

Say hello to Elisabeth Wulf, our new Content Marketer, Editorial

Elisabeth is a recent graduate from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota where she studied psychology and communications. She is pursuing a career in marketing, community engagement, and communications-related fields. Elisabeth is passionate about mental health and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health needs. If she could do anything right now, you’d catch her at a concert festival because music is healing.

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