Depression. The Sad Truth! Blog Series on Mental Health Part 4

Roles of Technology


Cortisone (/ˈkɔrtɨsoʊn/ or /ˈkɔrtɨzoʊn/; 17-hydroxy-11-dehydrocorticosterone) is a 21-carbon steroid hormone. It is one of the main hormones released by the adrenal gland in response to stress.  It elevates blood pressure and prepares the body for a fight or flight response.

Has technology rendered you incapable of maintaining your own mental regularity?  Has it played a factor in how our bodies deal with depression, stress and upsets?

The only time the stress chemical cortisone released itself in early days of civilization, and upwards to the nineteenth hundreds, was when you were being attacked or encountered dangerous wildlife.  One could say that depression and stress were not huge factors in mental health for early settlers as life was simplistic and straightforward.  There were illnesses, as there are now and there were also mental disorders, but not anywhere near the scale we see in the 21st century.

With the invention of the movie theatre, the television, the internet, the cell phone and then the almighty smart phone, we have become plagued by over-stimulation.  We have also saw an increase in options throughout the decades with the foods we could purchase, the types of clothing, fashion, soap, detergent, electronics, décor and vehicles.  You would think this would make our lives better; we could exist with little to no stress because of it.  You would be wrong!  Over Stimulation!  Our bodies were not designed to experience this kind of multifaceted environment where every choice is a taxing element on our mental well-being.  Some people can function just fine while others suffer damaging effects on their bodies and mind.

Today, Cortisone is released in to our bodies daily!  We get up in the morning and we go about our lives experiencing over stimulation at every turn we take.  On the way to work in the morning, we feel a rise in our stress because the traffic is too thick.  We get to work and realize there is a new pile on your desk that we hadn’t accounted for.  Companies pushing for higher production, increased accuracy, efficiency and systems that seem to always malfunction.  We place so much emphasis on the technology in our lives that when they stop working properly; we get frustrated and irate.  Electronics that are meant to make our lives easier have caused a decline in our mental capabilities.

Years ago, before cars were mainstream, a person would have to ride a horse, horse and carriage or just simply walk to work or wherever they were going.  As a person, they knew how their body worked and how long it would take them to get to their destination; besides a familiar face along the way they could continue to go at their desired speed.  There were no street signs, traffic lights, cross walks or sidewalks; just a dirt road and your own two legs.  There were no disappointments, as the person depended solely on himself to do what had to be done.  Today, we leave for work at a time that we believe will allow enough time to get there.  If there is an accident on the highway, immaculate congestion or road work that slows the flow of traffic to a near stop, we begin to get upset.  Stressed because you are going to be late for work, frustrated because we should have left earlier and accounted for such a thing.  All the while, the person who walked to work, just walked right past you, whistling a tune, getting regular exercise and experiencing no rise in blood pressure and stress.

Back in the early days when work was finished they walked back home, giving them more than enough time to unwind from their busy day.  The farmer had time to let his muscles relax, the store clerk had enough time to quickly go over what was needed to be done the next day and the accountant had enough time to clear all the numbers out of his head.  Maybe they had horses and carriages, and rode them as opposed to walk, but imagine yourself on either and tell me that the stress levels would have been anywhere near the rush hour traffic you have to deal with today.  They arrived at home to children who listened, a wife who had prepared a hot meal and delightful conversation about their day.  They probably sat around the fire, chatted and enjoyed the family life.  Then off to bed, nice and early, to sleep a restful sleep and get up the next morning to do it all over again.

Today, after our stressful day at work, we rush out the door because we have to go grab the kids at soccer practice while fighting our way through traffic.  We have the after school program calling your cell because you are late to pick up your children, while your spouse is beeping in on the other line to give you a list of things she needs, at 4 different stores, for the kids school trip tomorrow.  You remembered there was an email you had to send out before you left work so you are trying to write that out on your blackberry, while you are stuck at a red light that is taking forever to change.  Your daughter is text messaging you to ask if she can go buy new soccer shoes after practice tonight while your car’s gas light just came on.  Sound familiar?

Just a normal day in the lives of society!  We do all this to finally arrive at home where there is no dinner waiting and you have to microwave a pizza just to feed the kids.  You grab a beer or cooler from the fridge; you try and begin your unwinding from the day.  Your spouse gets home, there is a moment of hello, how was your day?  Potentially a kiss and then it’s her turn to run around and get everything ready for the next day.  The clothes taken out, the lunches packed and the permission slips signed for the school outing she called you about earlier.  By this time, you are in the living room watching a copper program on the tube, having another beer and still trying to unwind.  You head to bed where you are either experiencing delayed street syndrome or you pass out simply from exhaustion.  Either way, unless your body has crashed you are going to have a restless night sleep, a series of dreams and a wake up that is less than desirable.  You wake up groggy, irritable and finding yourself having to force yourself out of bed to get your day started.  All the while the man who walked or took a horse home and spent a few hours with his family had a normal restful sleep to arise fully awake and ready to start the day.

It is a vicious cycle that we have been living constantly for years and it is only getting worse.  I mentioned above about how all of the options a person has to choose from in our modern day; do you think they had these 25, 50, 75 or 100 years ago?   No!  If a person was going to the store then and they needed flour, rice, milk and eggs there was not 4 or 5 options of each item they could purchase.  There was no decision to be made except they needed flour, rice, milk and eggs.  They would walk in, choose those items and then check out.  Groceries then not only cost less money but also cost less time.

Think about crackers for a moment and think about a time you felt a craving or required crackers because you had guests that were coming over.  Now think about how long it took you to figure out which would be the best crackers to purchase.  I, myself have been in a position where I needed crackers and couldn’t decide which ones would be best.  I mean there are at least 30 different types of crackers a normal grocery store has to offer.  I would stand there mulling over the options;  salted tops, 30% less sodium, crunchy, soft, round, square, top-able or dip-able.  You would call your significant other and weigh in their opinion and then because you know you are in a hurry would grab a box that looked good and head to the cash.  Some of us have walked to the cash and held the box in our hand and stared at it, imagining those crackers in use at our gathering and have then decided that it wasn’t the best choice.  We then head back to the cracker aisle and try and make another quick choice.  Some of us have purchased multiple kinds because we couldn’t make the choice.  Do you think 100 years ago they did that?  Or even 50?  No!  They needed crackers so they went and bought the only crackers they could find.

How much time and mental energy was wasted on that small task?  Too much!  The same goes for any other grocery option.  It is rare to find a product that has only one option these days unless you are a celiac or allergic to wheat.

How many of us suffer from over stimulation and we don’t even know it?  How many of us have had restless night’s sleep for so long it has become the norm and we don’t know why?  I will tell you why!  Over stimulation!  We have allowed technology to completely over-run our lives and our precious time has been stripped from us.  We listen to music before bed, we watch the television or we are on our computers surfing the net and it is all stimulating your brain at a time your brain would naturally begin to wind down.

I challenge you to try something for one week.  Two hours before you go to bed each night turn off your televisions, radios and your computers.  Keep the lights in your house dimmed or use soft lamp light to illuminate the rooms.  Putter around the house, maybe folding some laundry, cleaning dishes or preparing dinner for the next day.  Sit with your children, spouses or roommates and talk about life.  Make small talk!  Make sure you are not worrying or stressed about anything because more than likely there is nothing you can do about it at that moment anyway.  Pretend you are lifting it from your head and put it in a drawer, close the drawer and walk away, telling yourself you will pick that up in the morning.  Take your thumb and message your palms, breaking down the stress that exists there.  Putter some more until it is bedtime and then crawl in to bed, making sure not to turn on any bright lights during the process.  Once in bed think about all the things you are grateful for, smile and take a deep breath and then exhale.  Close your eyes and allow yourself to slip off to a restful place.  Do this for seven days straight and you will see a considerable difference in your moods, interactions and overall mental health.

You would be surprised how well this works and how your sleeping habits will improve.  I’m not saying that you should get rid of all technology because to be honest it is the world we live in.  So much of our lives depend on technology and it is the direction in which we are continuously heading.  What I am saying is that we need to make note of how it is affecting us on a daily basis and maybe wheel back our complete dependency a little.  Only allow it for an hour a night or keep the phone turned off while at home.  Spend time with your family reading books, talking, telling stories and having fun outside.  Keep it turned off close to bedtime to allow your mind to wind itself down.