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Last Page Update02/20/2024

Page 48 Of  "Holistic Approch To The Stress Managment"

Technology: the giant stressor in the room!

By Dr. Ashraf Girgis N.D.



 Do you remember the funny movies about the Griswold family’s vacations? Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, led his family on many different adventures which didn’t always end well.

 In their escapades, however, everyone was always absorbed in the conversations and events which were happening; the members of the Griswold family had close ties to one another. These movies were funny and, to some degree, relatable to real life situations.


Nowadays, real life looks vastly different from the vacations of the Griswolds.There are hardly any family or friend gatherings free of phones, computers, tablets, etc.A few weeks ago, my daughter had a sleepover with about ten of her best friends. I went to the basement to see how everything was going and was amazed to see that many of them were on their phones instead of talking to each other and having a good time. Luckily, mydaughter seemed to notice and took appropriate steps to change the situation; before long, I could hear their laughter and lively conversations again. But how many times do you find yourself sitting with loved ones in a room, while each person is absorbed in their own gadget? I am guilty as charged!

One of my clients (she allowed me to discuss her case) was going through a tremendous amount of stress after her divorce. “I hated my life with him,” she explained. “I hated to see the jerk going to work at 6 a.m. or earlier, and then coming home at around 7 pm and just eating. He wasn’t even totally present when he ate dinner with us; when I would talk to him, he always seemed distracted. As soon as he was done, he would sit behind his desk on the phone. I finally decided to spy on his gadgets, even though I had never done this before; I just couldn’t understand what was going on. I found out he had an affair!” This client went on and on, talking about the nonstop texts and e-mails and how her husbandwould drop everything – even if they were eating dinner together – to respond.




Sadly, she is not alone. I have heard many stories like this, of husbands or wives coming home from work and “working” on their computers, and of old high school classmates contacting each other via Facebook when they are single or divorced.

All of this creates unhappiness and mistrust which then turn into sources  of stress and anxiety. In addition, we often end up exposing the most private and cherished aspects of our lives to strangers through these poor decisions regarding technology and social media. These choices can also result in us getting hacked and suffering the major inconveniences and financial problems which accompany such an event.

In the United States the divorce rate has jumped in recent years, and one third of divorces are directly related to Internet affairs. In Britain, 1 in every 5 divorced couples cites Facebook as the reason behind their split. A study published in the Journal of Computer Human Behavior by researchers from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Boston University compared state-by-state divorce rates to per-capita Facebook accounts. The study revealed that every 20% annual increase in Facebook enrollment was associated with a divorce increase of 2.18-4.32%. In a separate analysis, using data from a 2011-2012 survey asking about marriage quality and social media use, researchers found a link between social media use and decreased marriage quality. This correlation appeared in every model they analyzed.

 The use of technology not only jeopardizes family relationships, but also extends working hours as many of us begin bringing our jobs with us into our homes. Most institutions expect a response to an e-mail inquiry almost immediately, or at least within a few hours. In response, we begin to multitask all the time in order to  stay connected to our workplace. This leads to burnout.



Before the age of technology, a call after-hours by a secretary or colleague was almost unheard of, and needed a good reason behind it. But these days, a secretary who has a crush on his or her boss can find any reason to justify texting or e-mailing them at bedtime, and no one questions the appropriateness of such a behavior.

 In fact, most institutions encourage workers to become more intimate in order to increase productivity, sending them to workshops and analyzing their personalities and compatibility. Although some of these actions are important to prevent conflict in the workplace, some seem to go beyond friendliness and encourage colleagues to develop deeper relationships with each other while pushing their families further away.

Workplaces must find a happy medium which can make life at work easier without alienating families and turning workers into divorce statistics. The use – and abuse – of technology impacts not only our relationships but also the ability of our brains to  function well. According to, the average computer user checks 40 websites a day; the average computer user also switches programs 36 times per hour. The medial prefrontal cortex in our
brains can easily manage two tasks at once, but when a third task is added, accuracy drops significantly. Another study conducted by the University of California at Irvine and the U.S. Army was able to show that the brains of individuals with constant access to email remain in a very “high alert” state. According t o some neuroscientists, the use of technology can overload our brains and cause certain areas to shut down,
n order to compensate for the increased information being taken in. I know most of us love our gadgets; we can’t live without them. But let’s see how we can enjoy all the benefits these amazing tools can provide us while minimizing the negative side effects. It’s important to understand how we can become beneficiaries of technology instead of victims of these great tools.




Here are a few of my suggestions:

  •      -Try to reduce the number of times you check your e-mail or your work-related social media. Or do it only
    once or twice a day for your work emails and even less, if you can, for personal emails.
  • - After 6 m or so, stop checking altogether. If you have no choice but to check your personal email  after work hours, do it once in the early evening and be done with it. Maybe carry a pager like the old days; that way, you can be contacted in case of an emergency and left alone otherwise in order to prevent the social media addiction. Yes, there is such a thing as social media addiction, and there  is therapy to help find ways to deal with it.  -o not respond to your colleague’s e-mails after work hours.
  • Inthe old days, if you got a call from work after-hours, it had to be for a very good reason (an emergency). Treat your e-mails the same way, unless it is an emergency. If you are on vacation, make sure to have your vacation automated message turned on so that no one expects to hear from you.
        - Ask yourself why you are using each specific form of social media. If you are using it to advance your work or a specific cause, limit your usage to working hours only, or in the same way that you would conduct time allocated to social causes. In other words, minimize your time on social media or avoid it altogether if there is no need for it. It’s sad how we often feel forced to keep our businesses on social media in order to succeed, rather than simply relying on word of mouth in our local communities. Some forms of social media, such as Twitter, have become so negative that simply reading a few comments can put us in a negative mood.


  • -    If you are married, include your husband or wife in the conversation about social media and give them access to your account. On your account, you can make it clear to everyone know that you are a happily married couple in order to discourage desperate high school divorcees or college ex-girlfriends from contacting you. In short, if you want to reconnect with your buddies, do it as a couple. Make sure your social media does not come between the two of you and tarnish the trust you have in one another. 
  • - Turn all your gadgets off completely when you get home (if you can). Try to reconnect with your family. Play games, read and discuss a book together, cook and eat dinner together, walk to a park. Imagine you are living like an Amish family and have to come up with creative ways to spend time together. At first it will be very difficult, perhaps even boring – but soon you will be amazed by how much you enjoy it.
  •  -     Studies have shown that screen time right before bed can disturb your sleep. Make sure not touse technology at least 1-2 hours before bed to minimize the impact it has on your sleep, and keepit at least 6 feet away from your bed at night.
  •  -inyour party invitations, request that guests refrain from using phones. During social events,it’s important to enjoy real one-on-one contact instead of virtual communication. After all, you  worked hard for your party and want to connect with everyone, so turn your phone off or leave it  in your car before start of a party. 
  •  - If you are the CEO or leader at your workplace, make sure to emphasize the importance of having no communication after hours unless absolutely necessary.
  • A happy home life is essential in  having productive, happy workers. Make it a norm to involve the family in the work environment.
  •  Include spouses in after-hour meetings or parties if possible.  




-No one can deny that technology is amazing and has brought our human interactions to a global scale in ways previously deemed impossible. But it’s important to step back and realize that we should only use

this technology as a tool to communicate and discover; we cannot let technology rule our lives. As humans, we are a social species. We need REAL interactions and conversations, not just online ones. The part of our  brains responsible for emotions based on real interaction is vital to our humanity; make these interactions more prevalent in your life before that part becomes totally dormant. 





 Thanks for visiting For questions, please call our office at (616)-777-0608 and leave a message.Wish you the best in managing your stress.  If you want to learn more about how meditate and the science behind it, feel free to sign up for Dr. Girgis’s seminars on our website..  Feel free to follow us on twitter for our latest postings.

 Ashraf Girgis N.D.


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