Use Technology to Lower Your Stress This International Stress Awareness Week
5th – 9th November is International Stress Awareness Week. This year, as well as breaking the taboo about stress and mental health, the movement is addressing the question ‘Does hi-tech cause hi-stress?’
We’ve written extensively on the blog about the benefits of being outside for reducing stress, so this time we thought we’d look at some of the ways using technology can help or hinder your stress levels when it comes to the great outdoors.
First, the good news:
It can make things fun
Whether it’s the world-famous Pokemon Go series, or custom apps for children such as ReimaGo, combining technology with being outside can add a fun, motivating factor to being outside, with competitions, challenges and rewards to keep you active. Organisations such as The Forestry Commission have tapped into the wonders of AR (augmented reality) to bring favourite characters such as The Gruffalo to life with nature trails, enticing more families outside.
It can help you plan
Now you can research new places, check the weather forecast, plan routes for walks and runs, decide on good picnic spots, buy any necessary gear all online. It makes planning to get outside a great deal more accessible, whether you’re looking to camp, walk in the woods, go for a bike ride or do your first 5K run.
It can keep you safe
As mobile and wifi networks extend, it’s can feel reassuring to have a phone in your back pocket as you venture out on a hike. With online maps it also means top-class map reading and compass skills are less essential – though you should always walk within your fitness and orientation capabilities.
It can connect you with likeminded people
If you’d rather not walk, cycle, wild swim or walk alone, there are now hundreds of groups all over the world that you can join online. You can find an online community to share tips, plan events and make new friends.
It can stop you switching off
One of the joys of a long walk, or a trip to the beach is the chance to clear your head, switch off and enjoy the moment. If you’re constantly getting buzzed or beeped at by your phone, or even your watch, that interferes with your brain and stops you relaxing fully, especially if you feel a duty to respond.
It can be distracting
Even if you’re not responding to your messages while out and about, you might be checking social media, or looking for the perfect “Instagrammable” shot of your wild experiences. Nature and mindfulness are perfect partners – both tell us that it’s good for our wellbeing to slow down, do one thing at a time and make the most of each moment and the company you’re with rather than race ahead to the next thing, or be in a hurry to share it with the world.
So our recommendations are to get technology working for you when it comes to being outdoors. By all means, plan your trip online and take your phone with you. But keep it in your bag, on silent, and don’t be tempted to keep checking in!
What do you think? Do you agree with us about how technology affects stress when it comes to being outside and in nature? We’d love your thoughts!