Monday 15 July 2024
 
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Karl Escritt

Digital burnout a reality in the tech world

DUBAI, 25 days ago

Digital burnout is more widespread than ever, with a significant rise likely due to the pandemic years, often blurring the lines between personal and professional lives. 
 
As someone who works in the digital world, I am all too familiar with the toll technology can take. It's a constant issue I see with my clients and colleagues, writes Karl Escritt, CEO of Like Digital & Partners.
 
The barrage of notifications, the pressure to reply instantly, and the endless scroll of social media information overload us all and can be detrimental to our mental health. In fact, 
 
What is digital burnout?
Digital burnout is the mental and emotional exhaustion caused by spending excessive time on digital devices and online activities. Fatigue, anxiety, disengagement, and apathy are all symptoms of this, but it can also prompt physical effects like chest pains and long-term sickness. 
 
During the workday, for example, our brains are constantly bombarded as we flit between tasks across multiple devices. This creates a state of urgency and fuels our adrenaline. We're ‘always on’, whether that's attending Zoom calls, responding to emails and messages, or keeping up with industry news on social media. Switching off just isn't easy in our hyper-connected age.
 
Searching for dopamine
Have you ever reached for your phone on autopilot, clicked on an app, and suddenly found yourself mindlessly scrolling for what feels like hours? You're not alone. According to a McKinsey Health Institute Survey in 2023, over one-third of Gen Z respondents said they spend more than two hours each day on social media sites. However, Millennials take the crown for most active users, with 32% stating they post either daily or multiple times a day.  This constant social media engagement fuels our desire for dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.
 
Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are designed to be dopamine factories.  "Likes," notifications, and new content alerts all create a sense of anticipation and reward, keeping us glued to our screens.  This triggers a ‘dopamine loop’ where the initial pleasure of social media use fuels the desire for more, leading to compulsive checking.
 
As Anna Lembke explains in her New York Times Bestseller, 'Dopamine Nation,' these platforms tap into our intrinsic need to connect with other humans. But by manipulating our dopamine pathways, they can turn this healthy desire into an unhealthy dependence.
 
Tips to reduce your screen time
We should all set boundaries when it comes to how much time we spend on digital devices and here’s how: 
 
Set boundaries
Setting some solid rules around phone usage is a practice many people could benefit from. Whether it is leaving your phone in a different room at night and using an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up in the morning or experimenting with setting time limits for social media use (a good starting point might be 30 minutes or an hour). Frequent breaks are the key to cutting down on the amount of mindless content you might be absorbing.  
 
Curate your feed
Have a look at who you are following, who is following you and what you are seeing on your ‘Explore’ page. You can control all of these facets easily and sometimes, a clear-out of uninspiring follows is a great mental refresh. Remember you can also select a ‘close friends’ list on Instagram and choose who to share your content with. 
 
Elminate distractions  
While we would probably all love to switch our phones off for a few hours or even days, it’s not realistic when we rely on our devices for so much of our lives. Instead, you can use tools such as ‘Focus Mode’ on the iPhone which allows you to disable certain functionalities at different times of the day. With social media, there are a whole host of settings you can change to streamline what you see and have access to. This includes limiting direct messages from strangers, and managing notifications for likes and comments, or even consider turning them off entirely for a more drastic approach.
 
In the workplace 
If you work from home, even if it's only for part of the week, take a critical look at your work-life balance. If it doesn’t feel right, speak to your manager and see how you can improve the situation. Remember, reaching the point of digital burnout can be detrimental to your well-being. Mental health is extremely important, and any good manager will be happy to help you manage your time and stress levels more effectively. You can also speak to a professional such as a doctor or psychologist to discuss any concerns and check up on your overall wellbeing. 
 
As a CEO, I believe it is incredibly important to lead by example. I want my team to enjoy their time away from work in the evenings and weekends and to be able to switch off. I strive to model this behaviour in everything I do. It's mainly about offering autonomy – empowering our employees with a degree of flexibility and ownership over their work. 
 
For instance, we offer flexible work schedules and trust employees to manage their workload effectively. We also value and support their boundaries by discussing clear ‘off-line’ hours, so they're not expected to respond to emails after a certain time. 
 
Across society, whether in the workplace or at home, whether for children or adults, balanced tech usage is the key to preserving mental wellbeing. Take a few minutes today to change your settings, switch off or mute notifications, and you'll instantly feel lighter.--TradeArabia News Service
 



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