How open office and our modern lifestyle affect our mental health

We may be the most technologically advanced civilization, but our lifestyle and some modern practices have led us to witness an unprecedented rise in anxiety among people. This blog explores some such practices and provides simple solutions to overcome them.

How modern life is making us anxious

Modern life is closely associated with technological advancement and the digital revolution. But we now know that if you spend your whole day drowned in the sea of data, totally indulged in digital interactions, distracted, and constantly stimulated, then you might be paying a high price for being modern. This routine and the choice of habits result in social isolation, leading to anxiety, depression and loneliness. Many people are increasingly reporting having Anxiety Disorders symptoms.

Anxiety was a thing even in 400 BC, as mentioned by Hippocrates. But the way modern life has perpetuated anxiety is beyond what could be thought of, so many years before. Some aspects of modern lifestyle are slowly degrading the mental health of people and affecting their well-being. Let’s look at some life stressors that have led to increased levels of anxiety among them.

How modern life is making us anxious

Distraction at open office plans

How modern life is making us anxious

Cubicles have recently gained a bad reputation, they are made to look dull and uninteresting. But open office plans are not any better either. This concept is relatively new and is in the early stages of adoption worldwide. The intention behind its idea is to make employees feel better at work, with increased interaction and collaboration. Studies have shown that this is not the case.

In open office plans, you find yourself hyperventilating and suffer silently at your desk. You’ll surely be sitting at a shared table with your boss across from you. You will be in the direct eye line of your supervisor. Even if you’re not slacking off, anxiety crops up for the fact that you are always being watched.

Open office plans multiply the pressure we feel at our jobs. You’ll spend more time ruminating whether to take a break because you don’t see any other person doing it. You’ll be self-conscious to leave after you’re done with your work because you see that everyone’s still finishing theirs. You’ll worry about being perceived by your boss as a slacker, or by your co-workers.

If you are sitting on such a desk, request to move your place away from the center of the room. If you are feeling too guilty about your lunch breaks or leaving on time, bring this up to your boss or HR.


Comparison to people in the media

How modern life is making us anxious

How modern life is making us anxious


When we consume too much media and entertainment-related content, we start glamorizing the life of celebrities even when we only have a keyhole’s perspective of what’s going on in their life. This leads to you comparing your life with theirs, and experiencing feelings of inadequacy. You’ll feel less sexy and not good enough about the way you generally are. When we are too exposed to advertisements and TV, we’re constantly getting a glimpse of unrealistic beauty standards.

What we fail to realize is that what we see in advertisements and magazines is heavily edited. This unfair comparison with what’s presented gets us nowhere. The less we compare ourselves to others, the more we’ll focus on what’s wonderful about our life.


Addiction to social media

How modern life is making us anxious

Fear of missing out (FOMO) has got us to a bad place when it comes to our mental health. Seeing our friends hanging out without us, on their posted pictures, generally sends us down a spiral. It is not just about the posted pictures. It makes us feel our lives are inadequate compared to those who are constantly posting vacation pictures or bragging about their professional achievements.

Your friends may not be professional celebrities, but they too can edit how their pictures look. We now have apps that make it easy to edit our appearance with a few touches and clicks. It’s hard to differentiate real from what's edited.

Social media is an attractive illusion. More often people project their carefully curated images and videos. In all the pictures that they post, they are at their best with their most “Instagrammable” selves. Social media is upsetting. This is why over the years, many are advocating deleting them to live a mindful life.

If social media is not adding any value to your life, or if it’s not serving you in the right way, let it go. Notice if you are getting into nasty fights on Facebook. Reflect on how much you compulsively stalk people online. If any of that seems problematic, it’s time to take a break. Delete those addictive applications that kill your time, at least for a few days and notice the difference in how you feel.

 

Connection to work

How modern life is making us anxious

Email and work-related applications have made their way into our phones. Since we carry our phones all the time, we feel pressured to check our emails and work more hours. We feel pressured to be accessible to our co-workers 24/7. They too won’t hesitate to directly call us to know things related to work.

You may be a professional in any field, it is very likely that you feel like checking your mail outside of work hours. There is also a need to prove that we are dedicated, hard workers. By being digitally connected, we get sucked into working longer hours, and sometimes missing our breaks. There’s this feeling of insecurity that your one wrong move can cost your career, will make you crumble with pressure in today’s work environment.

It’s hard in today’s hyper-connected world to find that much desired work-life balance. But you can devise some strategies to tackle this problem. Don’t check your emails right after you wake up. There’s no point in doing it, and you’ll only end up starting your day with anxiety. If this problem is affecting your life outside of work, have an honest talk with your boss. It won’t be easy, you’ll have some awkward moments, but you’ll be glad you did it. Another best thing you can do is turn off your email notifications.

We can’t change many of the modern socio-cultural practices, but we can be smart and mindful in navigating our way through the obstacles society sets to negate our happiness and well-being. We have a choice to choose our lifestyle wisely. But if you are chronically anxious and feel lost, remember there’s always hope. Consider going for therapy for your social anxiety disorder treatment, it brings many cherishing benefits. Psych Associates of Maryland offer teletherapy, convenient, flexible, and accessible treatment for your anxiety.


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