How much time do you spend every day checking your emails and messages, following your favourite influencer posts on Instagram and keeping your online friends up to date with stories on Facebook? Do you ever feel like you are under stress as a result? Digital stress, caused for example by the pressure to answer messages as quickly as possible or by the “fear of missing out“, is a problem that has become more and more evident in recent years.
Therefore, it is the topic of the European project “Training for digital stress competence in form of a web-based app (TRIGS)”, which started in October 2019.
Educational organisations from Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece and the German organisations “Stiftung Medien- und Onlinesucht” (Media and Online Addiction Foundation) and “Systeme in Bewegung e.V.” (Systems in Motion) have joined forces for the project to develop an app to prevent and alleviate digital stress.
The aim of the project is to make internet users aware of the risks to their mental health and to develop an app that helps helps to learn a conscious approach to one’s own digital stress triggers and to reduce digital stress.
Background knowledge on stress:
Simplified, our body’s response to stress is still the same as it was in the Stone Age when encountering a sabre-toothed tiger: preparing to flee or fight. This means that our body provides more energy by increasing blood pressure and speeding up the pulse, fat and sugar metabolism are accelerated and attention is focused on the stressors (stress triggers). Breathing becomes shallower and faster. At the same time, other physiological processes such as digestion and the immune system are inhibited in order to save energy. Recent research shows that stress responses can vary in part depending on gender, life stage and which emotion is mainly triggered. However, describing these in detail is beyond the scope of this app.
Our stress reaction is triggered by stressors such as excessive demands, strain and conflicts. It can be reinforced by personal attitudes, thought patterns and evaluations (e.g. perfectionism). In the Stone Age, once the dangerous situation was over and the sabre-toothed tiger had been successfully killed or scared away, the body was able to calm down. The hormones that have the effects on the body described above could be released and the body entered a recovery phase. Nowadays, this often is not the case. The stressors such as constant accessibility or deadline pressure persist for a longer period of time. The acute stress reaction described above can then be followed by a chronic state of stress, which manifests itself in symptoms such as general exhaustion, weakening of the cardiovascular system and the sensory organs, digestive problems and tension. Mental consequences can include sleep problems, difficulty concentrating and irritability, up to and including depression and anxiety disorders.
- Hans Selye: Stress. Rules of life from the discoverer of the stress syndrome. Rowohlt TB-V., Rnb. (May 1986) ISBN 978-3499170720 (and various other books by H.Selye)
- Taylor SE, Klein LC, Lewis BP, Gruenewald TL, Gurung RA, Updegraff JA: Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight, Psycholical Review, vol. 107, no. 3p. 411-429, 2000 (Review).
- G. Sobrinho et al: Cortisol, prolactin, growth hormone and neurovegetative responses to emotions elicited during a hypnoidal state. In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, January 2003, 28(1): 1-17.