We often view technology as one of the driving factors in our chronic stress and anxiety. And while it certainly can play a major role, we should be wary of placing all of the blame on smartphones and computers. The reality is that technology, when wielded appropriately, can dramatically improve mental health across the board.
Positive Ways to Leverage Tech for Improved Mental Health
There’s no doubt that smartphones and social media are major contributors to the rise of anxiety in our culture. But the truth is that it isn’t going anywhere. And by attempting to strike technology out of your life altogether, you risk doing more harm than good. The secret is to learn how to leverage it appropriately in order to reduce stress, avoid anxiety, and promote feelings of stability.
Here are a few specific ways you can do that:
1. Meditation Apps
Meditation used to be something that was set aside for certain types of people. Historically a staple of eastern religious practices, meditation has often been resisted in western culture (at least among the masses). But over the past decade, it’s become much more widely appreciated and practiced. And, believe it or not, your smartphone might be your best meditation tool.
If you run a quick search on your phone’s app store, you’ll run across several meditation apps and platforms. Simple Habit is one of the most popular (boasting somewhere north of 4.5 million users), but there are dozens of others.
These meditation apps make it possible to relax, unwind, and become more in-tune with your thoughts and feelings. They include options like peaceful soundscapes, guided meditation, and even notifications that prompt you to be mindful throughout the day.
2. Wearable Health Tech
Wearable smart devices have become a staple of the tech industry in recent years. And while some argue that they prevent people from being able to fully disconnect from technology during the day, the benefits are difficult to ignore.
Whether it’s the Apple Watch or a FitBit device, these wearables can do everything from track your heart rate to encourage better breathing patterns. This leads to greater feelings of centeredness throughout the day.
3. Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Your brain and your body are more closely connected than you realize. In fact, you have the internal ability to self-soothe in the midst of stressful moments. This process is known as neuromodulation, and it occurs when your parasympathetic nervous system takes over, slows down your heart rate, and calms your breathing. And the vagus nerve plays a key role in this process.
The incredible thing is that you can actually stimulate your vagus nerve when and where you want. One of the ways this is done is by using the Xen device – a pocket-sized wellness companion that syncs up with a specialized app to help you enjoy the power of vagus nerve stimulation through your headphones.
Benefits of vagus nerve stimulation include lower stress, better sleep, greater tranquility, brighter mood, and enhanced focus. The result is greater mental and emotional balance.
4. Focus and Productivity Tools
Finally, there are a number of focus and productivity tools available online and in your smartphone’s app store. Whether you’re looking to block out distracting websites, manage your to-do list, or stay on track, there are useful (and free) tools available everywhere. Use them!
Is Health Your Number One Priority?
When your car starts leaking oil, you take it to the mechanic to be inspected and fixed. If the front door to your house creaks every time you open it, you spray the hinge down with a little WD-40. If your dog begins limping, you take him to the vet.
The question is, do you respond as swiftly when the problem is your own health?
We tend to be attentive to problems and needs that are outside of ourselves, yet often struggle to attend to our own health needs. This is especially true when it comes to mental health. We ignore the obvious until we’re left with no choice. And we have to do better.
The good news is that technology, while often the culprit, can also be a solution for better health. Leverage some of the insights presented in this article and look for additional opportunities as well. Help comes in a variety of shapes and sizes – go out and find something that works for you!