“Life is a hailstorm of distractions. It’s not the monster that stops us but the mosquito.”
~ Robert G. Allen.
Stress is a normal part of life, but these days there’s a lot more of it, and the intensity of it has changed. Do you feel it?
In my soon-to-be-released book The Success-Energy Equation, I talk about a ‘new stress’ I call 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress which is an unrelenting tech-driven, FOMO-fed stress that plaques us all day long.
Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, and then assess your 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress.
Hey, Michelle Cederberg here, sharing some more information from my soon-to-be-released new book The Success-Energy Equation. In a previous video I hinted at this idea of 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress, so I thought I’d share a bit more about that now.
Life is busy. It’s an overused statement, but only because it’s so freakin’ true. Crazy and conflicting family schedules, long work hours, and heavy workloads are only part of the problem. We’re living in the twenty-first century, the most technologically advanced time in history. And although computers and devices have improved our lives in many ways and most of us can’t imagine living without our smartphones, that connectedness influences our stress levels, our relationships, and our overall health and well-being. (Excuse me a second while I check my phone.)
I call it 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress, which is a pervasive, unrelenting, tech-driven, FOMO-fed stress that has us on the go—physically, mentally, emotionally, even cognitively—all day long. For many of us, the madness begins in the grogginess of early morning as we fumble for the light of the smartphone and scroll through the cyber-world as our first entry point into the day.
We’re living in an age of hyper-connectedness, checking work emails at all hours, texting when we should be talking, surfing mindlessly when we have a spare moment, scrolling other people’s lives instead of living our own, or fanatically nurturing our online lives for an audience of pseudo friends; we’re letting our self-esteem drop with every comparison to their perfect, edited, selfie-catalogued lives. I’m absolutely guilty of all of it, and it has definitely caused me excess stress.
Typically, we categorize stress in two ways: acute or chronic. Acute stress is stress with adequate recovery. It’s single-bout, short-term stress, like a tough online meeting, a traffic jam, or an argument with your covid-bound teenager. While the stressor is present, you’ll experience typical stress responses like increased blood pressure and heart rate, increased gut and muscle tension, and a higher breathing rate—and you probably won’t feel happy. Then the meeting will end, or you’ll get out of traffic, or your teenager will stomp off to their room, you’ll take a deep breath, and your body will begin to recover from the stress.
Chronic stress is long-term stress, or stress without adequate recovery. You’re probably pretty good at navigating the odd tough day, but if every meeting is a tough, or traffic is always bumper-to-bumper or your home life is fraught with family arguments (or all of the above) recovery from stress will be difficult. Under chronic stress your body has to work harder to help you function normally, and if it’s prolonged it can lead to stress-related health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, ulcers, chronic pain, or depression.
So, how is 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress different from chronic stress? In many ways, it isn’t. It is long-term stress without adequate recovery. It is ever-present, in myriad forms, just like chronic stress, but I propose that it is more pervasive, because we are connected 24/7 to the digital space—to news (fake or otherwise), social media, apps, games, streaming programs, videos, shopping, pop-up ads, emails, text messages, and any number of alerts. Plus, we can access work-related information at all hours of the day (especially now), so our workday has no boundaries.
While technology has enhanced many aspects of our work and life, the bandwidth overload it creates is affecting us—body, mind, and spirit—like never before. Every day we’re tasked with navigating all that is happening in our physical world, with the added burden of processing the digital noise inundating us from the online space and the little supercomputer we call a smartphone.
This daily physical-digital juggling act means your body and mind both lack recovery time.Think about that. We never get to recover. We never have those moments of “gosh, I’m bored” … (wait a second, I need to check my phone).
The pervasive stress that happens to us as digital information gets pushed into our devices—and that we perpetuate through our dependence on these devices—creates 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress. It draws down your mental, physical, emotional, and cognitive bandwidth until you lose sight of what is truly important to you.
The Success-Energy Equation explores 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress and what you must do to push past it toward a life of greater clarity, confidence, and success, and that starts with awareness…and a bit of honesty.
If you’re feeling the effects of 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress the first step is to admit you have a problem.
How much does information-overload from excessive screen time impact your day? Get honest about that. Our devices are addictive, and I for one know I’ve become even more attached to mine because of lockdown-lack-of-contact. I’ve used it as my connection to the ‘outside world’, and even as lock down has eased, I still keep her close. I twitch if I don’t know where she is.
That simple awareness…that I’m phone-dependent, has motivated me to attempt a shift in my behaviours: First check of the phone doesn’t happen until I’ve completed my morning routine and I’m sitting down for breakfast, I only use one device at a time (no more news on iPad, while scrolling IG on my phone, with the TV on in the background … GUILTY), if I’m in my office I leave my phone on the charger in the kitchen, I’m trying to be strategic with social media, I’m trying not to look at news after 9pm, I’m reading books with pages that I have to turn, and I do not bring my phone to bed with me.
I’d love to know your thoughts! Do you identify with 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress?
If yes, in what small ways can you shift your device behaviour so you can reduce screen time, and free up a bit of bandwidth to focus on things that really matter? Share your ideas below, subscribe to this and my other socials, and share this video with anyone you know who might need a nudge.
Oh, and if you want to be the first to learn about the pre-release of the new book, make sure you sign up for my weekly messages via michellecederberg.com (when you do you’ll free download of 10 Steps to a #CarpeFreakinDiem Life). You’ll see the sign up spot just below the home page video and banner.
Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg reminding you we’ve got one chance to do THIS life, I say Dare to Live It Big, and dare to be more aware of how 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress may be messing with your success.
Hey, I’m presenting online these days, and it’s not only fun, it’s pretty darn effective. If your organization needs a break from the work-from-home routine to learn how to boost resilience, work-life balance and productivity, reach out to me to chat about my engaging online sessions!