Do you ever feel that, instead of using machines to make your life easier, it's machines that are actually using you? Traffic jams. Subway trains. Computers. Emails.
IM alerts. Cell phones. Text messages. TV advertisements. All of these things, every day, contribute to our stress levels.
Human beings are social animals. We need to be around other people. But the fact is we probably spend much more time every day staring at a screen than we do looking into our loved one's eyes. Crazy, isn't it? How did life get like this?
Is modern technology really to blame? What can we do to redress the balance between technology and people in our lives, so we're happier and less stressed out? What's the first thing you do when you arrive at work every morning? Switch on your computer? Check your emails?
Make a phone call? Before you do any of these, why not go for a walk around the office and actually talk to people? Perhaps you can make that difficult first half hour of the morning easier if you take control of how you start your working day. Even just a short chat, a smile, a joke, reduces stress levels. And when you do sit down in front of the computer, how do you use it?
It's easy to fall into the trap of using messaging services and social networking sites as a substitute for real friendship. I sometimes find myself sitting at the computer and typing madly away for hours on end and, although I'm having lots of different conversations, I'm not actually saying a word. Why not use these communication networks to organize a real social life, rather than just a virtual one? Enhance your social life - instead of replacing it - with a computer, by using online networking services to send out invitations to friends, so you can all meet for dinner or coffee. And what about your cell phone?
How long do you spend every day taking calls, making calls, sending and replying to text messages? Or, and this is a big stressor in many people's lives, do you find that your boss, your mother, or your partner use it as a tracking device to find out where you are and what you're doing? Does a ringing cell phone constantly interrupt your conversations, disrupt your concentration on a task or waken you up from a peaceful nap? In the age of cell phones, is there any privacy anymore? Well, there are a number of things you can do to make cell phones a positive, rather than a negative, in your life.
Start by setting your ring tone to vibrate; it's less stressful to answer a buzzing, rather than a ringing, phone. If it's the weekend or the evening and you're going out, why not leave your cell phone at home? Or, if you simply have to take it, why not switch it off when you're spending time with friends? You can always check for messages or missed calls later. That way, you are in control of your cell phone, rather than your cell phone being in control of you.
No doubt about it. Modern life can be stressful. We should all re evaluate the positive and negative influences technology has in our lives, and try to make more time every day for people, instead of machines.