Overcoming Digital Anxiety in a Post-Pandemic World
The COVID-19 pandemic is considered by many to be the first international crisis of the post-digital, post-internet information age.
As such, it put much of the world’s resources to the ultimate test—medical, economic, and even the means of addressing people’s mental health and emotional well-being.
Digital anxiety post-pandemic refers to the insidious feeling of dread and uncertainty associated with COVID-19, as well as everything else that you might see in the media and on your feeds.
Here are some ways to turn the volume down on COVID-related digital anxiety without disconnecting yourself from the rest of the world.
What Causes Post-Pandemic Digital Anxiety?
Digital anxiety has been an issue since the dawn of email addiction and MySpace obsession. But quarantines and lockdown measures during the pandemic put us all far from our loved ones, peers, and colleagues as school and work suddenly became completely home-bound experiences.
As a result, our digital devices became our only means of connecting to and communicating with others. We were already hopelessly addicted to our smartphones and social media before COVID-19; in its wake, we’ve become more technologically dependent than ever before.
According to a study in the Wiley Public Health Emergency Collection, self-reported dependence on digital interaction post-pandemic has increased by 46.8 percent. Internet use in general saw a 70 percent increase in the same study.
For many dealing with the worst of COVID, digital lines of communication were the only means available.
Digital pandemic stress looks and feels different for everybody. But, according to Cambridge University Press, catalysts that may have contributed to post-pandemic digital anxiety include the following:
- Social withdrawal from others in quarantine and in an ever-changing world that becomes more distant and cold with each passing month.
- A significant increase in screen time overall (and, consequently, social media channels and other commonly negative sources of digital influence) in lieu of real social interaction.
- Obsessive stress and worry regarding the pandemic’s impact on our future professionally, financially, socially, and in terms of our own health and safety.
- The existential fear that many young people feel when they find themselves subject to large-scale, mandatory, and often much stricter public health mandates than they’ve ever borne witness to before.
- A statistical increase in poor personal health choices since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and less frequent physical activity on average.
The transition between our previous lives out in the world and the shift to interacting remotely has been unsurprisingly difficult. The world must manage safety restrictions, social distancing protocols, and other barriers to in-person social interactions.
The good news is that the technology we depend on can also be harnessed as a viable solution to pandemic anxiety, digital or otherwise.
Signs and Symptoms of Digital Anxiety
What’s the best way to tell if you’re suffering from post-pandemic anxiety?
Pandemic stress, anxiety, and burnout may present themselves in some of the following ways:
- A significant downturn in disposition after interacting with social media, news apps, or another source of pandemic-related information
- Overwhelming feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and isolation in the face of the pandemic
- Mental exhaustion and difficulty concentrating
- A distinct lack of motivation
Digital anxiety post-pandemic isn’t limited to a specific age group or demographic; anybody may find themselves struggling emotionally, especially if they’ve experienced the consequences of the pandemic first-hand.
Drawing the line between negative technology habits and empowering digital solutions isn’t always easy, but these are a few apps, strategies, and resources that may help you overcome digital anxiety.
Many digital interventions come in the form of medical apps that promote mental well-being, even if you’re in total isolation. The best mental health websites for recovering from digital anxiety can help you center yourself and break the bad digital habits you might’ve developed cycle while isolated from friends and loved ones with little communication outside your smartphone.
If you aren’t yet taking advantage of one or more of these tools, you might find the habits and the lessons that they impart to be extremely helpful:
- Headspace is a mindfulness app that utilizes strategies backed by science to help you meditate, focus, and find inner calm.
- Shine is a website dedicated to COVID-19-related mental health resources, sponsored by Mental Health America.
- Nod is an app created to help college students connect with their new peers and to remain engaged with their studies, which can be especially valuable during lockdowns due to the pandemic.
- Coa is a self-proclaimed online “gym” for mental health. You can participate in online classes and match with therapists remotely.
- Sinasprite brings a gamified approach to relieving mental health issues related to the COVID pandemic.
In addition to solutions devoted to managing digital stress in a post-pandemic world, the National Institute of Mental Health also advises anybody struggling to employ a few recommended practices offline, as well:
- Take a break from the news whenever possible.
- Remain connected with your family and friends, even if you’re only able to reach out digitally.
- Continue setting goals for yourself, just as you did before the pandemic hit us.
- Make your physical and emotional well-being a priority. Enjoy good food, exercise, and restful sleep as often as possible.
- Focus on the positive things in your life.
Remaining optimistic during difficult times is often easier said than done. With the support of your loved ones and perhaps the guidance of a licensed medical professional, however, you might find that there’s a lot more to look forward to beyond the uncertainty of the near future.
Technology and Anxiety Post-Pandemic: A Double-Edged Sword
Some vilify social media for the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic. Others recognize social and service-based technology as critically important virtual bridges between the individual and their family, friends, colleagues, and mental health specialists.
Empower yourself to transcend fear and doubt during and after the pandemic using these tips and tools. The real world is still out there, and there’s a lot to see and enjoy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. And social media is no exception.
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