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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

When Technology Addiction Takes Over Your Life

Are you a tangled mess of BlackBerrys, emails, PDAs, iPhones, laptops, and cell phones? Here’s how to untangle your life and find healthy balance.
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Why We Need to Rest

These constant interruptions take a toll on our bodies and our mental states.

Feldman suffers from headaches after long days spent staring at the computer screen and putting out fires over her cell phone. "The last thing I want is to put myself at risk for a heart attack," she says. "But if you're not getting away from it enough, it could become dangerous."

Jetsetter Hoffman suffers from insomnia and blames part of it on an obsession with being connected.

"It's like I can't even disconnect to go to sleep," she says.

Multitasking can cause the brain to overheat, like a car engine, says Hallowell. "The brain needs periods to recover, not just sleeping at night," he says, "but during the day, [it needs] periods of rest and recovery. It simply can't run straight out all day long at peak performance."

Type A people, who feel obliged to respond to every email, can work themselves into what Dr. Hallowell dubs the F-State - frantic, frazzled, frenzied. "They get toxic stress and burn up energy rapidly and wastefully," he says. "In that state, they do bad work, lose friends, and lose clients. It's bad for them in every measurable way."

If you don't prioritize, Hallowell says, you'll go in many directions at once and you won't do anything well. "You really need to be very clear about what matters most to you," he says, "It won't happen automatically. If you don't take your time, your time will be taken from you."

He adds: "If you de-stress, if you prioritize, everything gets better -- your physical health, your longevity, your enjoyment of life."

New Solutions for a New Age

Nearly two years ago, Scott Dockter, president and CEO of PBD Worldwide Fulfillment Services Inc., decided to take Casual Friday one step further, and created email-free Fridays, where employees are encouraged to talk offline to resolve issues, by picking up the phone or meeting face-to-face.

As a result, he saw an 80 percent email drop-off in the first year and noticed a reduction of unnecessary reports sent and excessive cc'ing.

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