The growing problem of digital stress


A health alert for anyone who owns a cell phone.

Health experts say using your devices too much can lead to digital stress, which includes depression, anxiety and headaches.

Eric Alvarez takes a deeper look at a growing problem and the three things you can do to unplug.

For a percent of us, our phone is the first thing we see and hear in the morning.

As our eyes focus in the darkness, you see dozens of emails waiting for you.

And before your first cup of coffee, you've probably read through all of them.

Getting to work is just the beginning.

"You get the stress of lots of email from work."

Like many young professionals, Desirae Webb literally can't get away from her work, because of the devices she carries.

"I have a phone, watch, iPad."

Each one sends constant reminders about appointments, deadlines and meetings.

"It really is easy to get sucked into the web."

This 21st century problem has a 21st century name - digital stress.

It happens when you're constantly plugged into a digital world that never stops demanding your attention...emails, text messages, news alerts, calendar reminders, birthday reminders, it just never stops.

"I know that is a huge stressor for our generation."

So what can you do about it?

Step one is easy - fix your phone.

When you install a new app, don't let it send you notifications, instead, go into the apps when you want to, not when they tell you to.

Set your phone to 'do not disturb' mode so it won't send you notifications of any kind while you sleep.

If you absolutely have to use your phone at night, adjust the screen color.

A study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research shows blue tinted displays are linked with lower levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Changing your phone's display to a warmer tone, makes it easier to fall asleep and more sleep means less stress.

Step two in beating digital stress, is fighting the physical symptoms.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says symptoms of work related stress include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Stomach Problems
  • Anger

Title boxing instructor Jarrod Houston has seen it all.

"You become more angry, you become more put away from the world."

That's why he teaches his classes to channel that negative energy into their punches.

After one unplugged hour of throwing punches, Houston says stress gives way to endorphins.

"I've had tears, I've had hugs, I've had laughter."

Step three is the hardest...focus.

It's a beautiful spring day, the sun is out and trees are blossoming. But these people are too busy looking at their phones to see it.

Helen Prater sells custom clothes at the farmer's market.

All around her, people sit and eat with friends but don't really talk to them.

"A lot of heads are down, they're looking at their phones."

Prater uses her devices to market her products on social media and take credit card payments, but when it comes to artistic inspiration, she says it's not on a screen, it's out in the world.

"I see it as a really valuable tool. I use it when I need to, but I'm not tied to it. I'm not tethered to my phone."

Face it, devices are a part of our lives, but the tech is so new.

We don't know the long-term effects of a lifetime of digital stress.

That's why you have to fight, focus and fix your phone.

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