E-motional Sanity: Mental Harmony in the Pixelated Era

  • 07-Jul-2024 13:49


 

 E-motional Sanity: Mental Harmony in the Pixelated Era

“We are always doing something, talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what's next. The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy unimportant external things all day.”

Brenda Ueland

 

The modern era's demand to be always available reached a kind of peak with the increase of remote tasks during the pandemic. As the concept of getting things done at work has been completely removed, the measurability of our productivity is now defined by whether we are always accessible. Our electronic devices are on and force us to overuse them. Moreover, it is not only related to work but also affects us by controlling our social media accounts, leaving us facing the phenomenon of "digital intoxication" [5]. One of the other influential elements is the fact that constantly checking our emails and social network accounts, results in the concept called FOMO - "Fear of missing out" [3] and it takes over our psychological well-being subconsciously. The severe consequences of that understanding end up obsessively monitoring what others are doing on social networks, comparing oneself to them, and catastrophizing any difference. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center [3] includes depression, insomnia, and difficulty in concentration on the list of symptoms, highlighting the severity of the issue in a 2023 Forbes article. So, why should we deal with this incident? What positive outcomes can being constantly unavailable bring to our mental health?

In her book "How to Do Nothing: Resisting Attention Economy", Jenny Odel, a writer and artist and a teacher of internet art and digital design at Stanford University, states the importance of taking time for ourselves and replacing that time with activities that make us happy to escape the anxious dynamics of the everyday period [8]. As the name of the book suggests, creating spare time can be valued without just filling it with any specific activity too [8]. Although this concept, which is at the level of changing the entire approach of today's world, may seem like a trigger for the perception of laziness at first glance, it is quite a complicated aptitude to achieve in terms of soothing and concentrating the mind. The major cause for its complexity is that we can't concentrate our thoughts on one thing given by always being busy, adopting the vision of keeping up with the demands of the new era, and involuntarily focusing on external stimuli in the digital environment. Even as humans, we fail to focus our attention on breathing, which seems to be the most straightforward way to deal with this condition. In Dutch practice, this case is called the art of "doing nothing" [1], and it is noted that it is considered absolutely significant to take time for the brain to calm down. It is already a fact that the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for decision-making and concentration, gets rid of the cognitive load during rest and maintains its active dynamics in daily events.

In her book The Power of Unplugging one day a week, Tiffany Shlein, founder of Webby Awards, recommends turning off all electronic devices at least once a week and devoting this day to the people and things we love [7]. Repeating this habit for a certain period also creates awareness to use technology more healthily. Harvard Business Review assistant editor Olejarz, who chose that book as his guide, calls himself a "digital nerd," but he looks forward to seeing if he will continue to do this practice persistently in the next decade, adding the advice to the flow of his life [7]. 

All of these examples are, of course, steps we can take individually to take some ownership of our mental health. If we approach the issue of artificial intelligence from the current researcher's viewpoint, it is clear that this field is not being bypassed. This research topic of the new age has expanded a bit more and also covered the topic of mental health. According to research [4], there are already systems that can measure people's facial expressions, and these systems can analyze the blood pressure, body temperature and neurochemical phenomena of a person's face and make a diagnosis about their mental state. A person's level of depression can even be determined by their social media posts or writing styles. Without a doubt, the use of artificial intelligence for this purpose has not yet been determined, and it is noted further research is needed into its prospective use and benefits [6].

In addition, the results of research have repeatedly suggested for years that in order to protect our mental health, we should devote enough time to our physical activity, pushing us to make it happen. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association [2], maintaining physical activity is strongly linked to our mental health, which directly affects our well-being. The point is that although the results of all these studies are shared, and the human race as a whole has the opportunity to take care of its own mental health, the steps taken to do so are relatively few. 

As we complete our little journey into the complexities of mental health, I share my belief with the valuable readers who took their time to read this article that some small steps you can take to improve your mental well-being will make a big difference:

●        purposefully take a timeout from electronic devices and allocate that time to favorite activities; you can spend this time walking, exercising or even drinking tea.

●        cultivate a gratitude ritual for every little thing that means something to you; you can do this by writing, praying, or expressing it to people who are special to you.

●        limit commitments that drain your energy and spirit; embrace the concept of prioritization.

●        celebrate your small victories.

 

References

1.     Big Think. (2024, February 13). Ease productivity overload with "Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing". Retrieved from https://bigthink.com/the-learning-curve/niksen/ 

2.     Canadian Mental Health Association. (2024, February 2). The connection between mental and physical health. Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/connection-between-mental-and-physical-health/ 

3.     Forbes. (2023). The psychology behind FOMO. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/the-psychology-behind-fomo/ 

4.     Gültekin, M. (2022). Yapay Zekânın Ruh Sağlığı Hizmetlerinde Kullanımına İlişkin Fırsatlar ve Sorunlar. İnsan ve Toplum, 12(3), 121-158. 

5.     Jaddou, D. (2023, November 22). Excessive Use of Screens and Digital Intoxication. Retrieved from https://www.drjaddou.com/blog/excessive-use-of-screens-and-digital-intoxication

6.     Kia, Y. (2023, October 25). Mental health in the digital age: Navigating the impact of technology. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@Yasserkia/mental-health-in-the-digital-age-navigating-the-impact-of-technology-415533bb8016

7.     Olejarz, J. (2020, Ocak 30). Verimsizliğe övgü. Harvard Business Review Türkiye. 

8.     Stanford Magazine. (2024, February 3). Book Review: How to Do Nothing. Retrieved from https://stanfordmag.org/contents/book-review-how-to-do-nothing 

 

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