Technology and Emotional Health in a Global Pandemic

Emotional Health is more important than ever.

But technology…it seems vital. Technology is a blessing right now…and a curse. We can see medically fragile friends and relatives without endangering them. We can send out “I love you’s” to people who we are not free to see face to face. But we can also lose connection – even while we’re trying to maintain contact. We can actually increase loneliness as we are jumping on call after call.

Here are a few suggestions to maintain emotional health while using technology during the current crisis.

Use Technology for Connection

Connection and contact are not the same thing. Right now we need to avoid physical contact. But it’s easy to use technology to “check in” on people without fostering connection. If we’re not careful technology can increase contact and lower connection.

Here’s an example of how to use technology to address your emotional needs and develop connection: When you feel lonely, ask yourself, “Who am I lonely for?” If it’s a loved one, then reach out to that loved one: “Hey, I miss you! Want to jump on a call soon?” If it’s a friend, then reach out: “Hey, I miss you! Want to jump on a call soon?” You get the picture, right? Identify who you’re lonely for and reach out. Use whatever technology fits the situation. I recently texted back and forth with an old friend for nearly an hour.

Create Boundaries for Information

The world is at your fingertips. The whole, giant, scary, uncontrollable world is a click or two away from you. This is both helpful and potentially toxic. Is it helpful to check the statistics on infections? It may or may not be. Perhaps there is a certain time of day when this information is more or less neutral. Perhaps there is a time of day where this information is basically harmful. Set boundaries for all information: type of information (news, stats, etc), time of day (morning, lunch, evening, etc). What other boundaries do you need to set?

Process Your Feelings Before You Cope

Let’s be honest. We’re watching more shows on Netflix than normal. We’re also probably eating more junk food than normal (or just more food — I KNOW my children are!). It’s part of how we are trying to survive right now. But, before that next Netflix binge (or that next YouTube rabbit hole), process how you are feeling. Distraction is okay. But before you cope with distraction, ask yourself, “What am I feeling, and where is that coming from?” If you need help with your feelings, here is a simple list from Chip Dodd:

Chip Dodd 8 Feelings

Hopefully, these suggestions will help. Technology is great! But technology can hinder connection, heighten anxiety, and enable unreflective coping. Let’s strive for health. How else do you think we can strain toward health?

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