Impact of technology on mental health

Raj Kundhi, Senior Physiologist

How to treat stress

4 April 2024

If you find yourself thinking about your endless to-do list, increasing deadlines and constant alerts and reminders, you’re not alone.

From workplace stress to homelife and financial worries, stress and the factors that can cause it are all around us. But what is stress exactly and how we can help alleviate it?

What is stress?

Humans have developed the stress response to survive. Our cavemen ancestors used the onset of stress to alert them to a potential danger, enabling them to react to it. This is known as the ‘fight or flight’ response1.

When we’re stressed, our body releases hormones and chemicals, such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. These cause many responses, from diverting blood to muscles (to make us run faster) to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions, such as digestion.

In these situations, stress can be useful, but problems can occur when this stress response happens too often or during inappropriate situations. In modern society, it can be triggered by anything from paying your bills to missing a train. Some stress can help us perform better but, if longstanding, helpful can become harmful.

Stress in modern society

Modern society comes with constant pressure to make more money, be smarter, fitter, more productive, and it can become overwhelming and potentially lead to burnout. We live in a hyper-stimulating and distracting world, with boundaries between work and personal lives becoming more blurred.

To be effective and enjoy our lives, we need to learn how to SWITCH OFF and understand that we need periods of rest and renewal.

Think about your daily routine. Is there ever a point where you entirely switch off? No computer or television, or no phone?

How does stress affect your health?

Being stressed increases cortisol levels, the main hormone released by the body to help deal with stressful situations. It raises our blood glucose, which is great if we’re running away from a sabre-toothed tiger, but not so good if you’re stressed about a mounting to do list or finding a parking space.1

Having continuously raised cortisol levels has been linked to an increased risk of weight gain, acne, fatigue, change in eating patterns and even chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes2 and high blood pressure.

Tips to help you switch off

Try one or more of these tips each day to help lessen the impact of stress:

  1. No-tech lunch hour! Your lunch break is a fantastic time to switch off. Why not leave your phone in your drawer? Your brain is always trying to solve problems, but we need to give it time to. That brilliant idea you’ve been racking your brain for all day sat at your desk might just come to you when you give your brain a chance to stimulate itself.
  2. Prioritise relationships. Put your phone away when out with friends or when spending time with your partner. Just 10-15 minutes of REAL connection. Aim to meet in person rather than messaging on your phone, or even writing a letter or getting creative and sending a care package – all help give us that break from technology and help maintain connections with those around us.
  3. Choose to get active. When you choose to get outdoors and do hands-on activities you choose to connect with your environment, your body and your friends. There’s no time for checking social media when you’re riding a bike or playing football, so why not choose tech-free activities to disconnect.
  4. Have a phone-free dinner policy. Having your phone at the dinner table is many people’s pet peeve. Try to put the phones down and have a real conversation. The art of conversation is disappearing, and dinner time is the perfect way to reconnect and find out how someone’s day has been.
  5. Try not to overdo the multi-tasking. Whether that’s at work or at home, or even when undertaking a hobby, aim to focus on one task at a time. Multitasking has been proven to reduce productivity and job performance: You waste time as your brain shifts gears from one activity to another, causing stress and potentially leading to burnout.3


  1. What is stress? - Stress Management Society
  2. Stress and diabetes – Diabetes UK
  3. The Pitfalls of Multitasking at Work – Psychology Today

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