Image copyright [CC BY 2.0 user ] Google Earth Image caption A street scene at Sargeant Street, in Headington, Oxford, recreated by Google Earth
In an increasingly stressful world, many of us reach for our phone or laptop. But did you know that a simple click can actually be quite stressful?
According to psychologist Philip Zimbardo, there are four types of stressors that make us both more vulnerable and more resilient.
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The impulse to click – clicking is an instinctive response, and it’s often the worst thing you can do, especially when your phone is near.
Example: My phone isn’t working, I really don’t like letting people down, so I run home and post a comment on Facebook. As my brain processes this event, it sets off a series of rapid physiological reactions that increase my stress threshold.
Smartphones can also take a toll on mental health – it is essential to find a balance between use, but making smart decisions when you have checked your phone.
Excessive volume or duration of your activity.
If you are excessively clicking or checking your phone, it could be a sign that your anxiety is growing. According to University of Texas Health Science Center researchers, excessive smartphone use is linked to numerous psychological issues such as depression and anxiety.
Over-reliance on technology – according to The Telegraph, a study published in the journal Social Cognition found that adults spend up to four hours on their smartphones, and it doesn’t seem to be paying off.
A separate BBC study found that users of social media technologies are more susceptible to depression, even after taking into account psychological factors such as stress and sleep deprivation.
University of Oxford neuroscientist Iain Frame was shocked when asked how people react to stress. He said: “Because we are made out of a mix of chemicals from different components of our genes, some of us survive more easily than others. But we do react to stress in the same way as any other animals – and one reason is because of the forces of nature.
“There is a lot of non-verbal stress in this modern world and most of us have been turned off to hearing humans emit the sounds of anxiety. It turns out that this is one of the nicest types of stress to experience, but when we listen to the sounds of it our physiology and stress response is going to turn on and on and on.”
Research shows our brains help to overcome stress by creating a state of euphoria. Studies have shown that a state of euphoria can reduce the stress response, mood fluctuations and enhance a sense of well-being and happiness.
During a state of euphoria, patients who have experienced a traumatic event report higher levels of feeling well, as well as craving or prioritising chocolate, alcohol, sex and food over usual activities.
Addictive behaviours – this is something that affects most of us. Binge-watching online shows that require a lot of information is also linked to feelings of anxiety or depression. As online streaming and TV services expand, addiction to online video shows could become more of a problem as the number of streams available increases.
Head-banging is another form of highly addictive behaviour. Picture people, including some mental health professionals, banging their heads against things, in between their words. It can be an enjoyable activity for many, but in extreme cases, if it continues to become more frequently, it could even become a problem.
In the UK, one in three children experience symptoms of stress. In some cases, some feel very anxious, while others feel very pressured.