Healthy habits with technology for better mental well-being

December 21, 2021
technology addiction

How to spot signs of misuse and find balance

By Regence

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have increasingly used technology in our day-to-day lives, including grocery shopping, virtual social gatherings and doctor visits. In 2020, Regence saw a 400% increase in our members receiving care through virtual visits.

While technology has improved our lives in important ways, there can be negative effects as well. In November the Wall Street Journal, for example, reported on a Facebook study that found one in eight users engage in compulsive social media use, impacting sleep, work, parenting or relationships.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made technology a mainline in our lives more than ever,” says Andree Miceli, clinical director of behavioral health at Regence. “Since technology helps us in many ways, misusing it isn’t seen as dangerous as substance use – its usefulness and acceptance in our daily routine also make it hard to identify potential problems.”

Technology troubles

It’s not always easy to see when technology is becoming a problem. Although spending excessive amounts of time on digital devices can be a sign of a technology addiction, it doesn’t always mean misuse. That said, overuse of technology can exacerbate anxiety, depression and other underlying health issues. Warning signs for concerning digital use may include:

  • Losing interest in friends, work, school or other activities
  • Using digital devices while driving a car or walking across a street
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, stressed or irritable

Be in control of your tech

Removing all digital devices from our lives is unrealistic. They serve a purpose and, in many ways, make life easier and more fulfilling. The aim is to find balance in using technology, like unplugging or reducing screen time, to help improve our mental well-being.

Being mindful of why you are using a device can help promote a healthy balance. Consider turning off notifications or even putting devices on Do Not Disturb when you need to focus. You can also find more balance by making time to get outside, read, journal, cross-stitch or any other activity you enjoy while leaving your devices behind. Some people also find it helpful to talk with a professional to improve mental well-being.

Regence members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. Regence members who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com, or call us for help finding the right behavioral health resources.

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