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The exhaustion epidemic: Don't blame work - it's your phone


We can’t switch off from technology, never mind work. Stock photo

We can’t switch off from technology, never mind work. Stock photo

We can’t switch off from technology, never mind work. Stock photo

It's hard to find the motivation to exercise during the cold depths of January. The evenings are dark, the Netflix offerings are enticing and even the most ardent New Year fitness resolutions collapse beneath a comfy sofa and a well-stocked fridge.

But hibernation-mode isn't the only reason we're abandoning our fitness goals. According to a recent report by Mater Private, half of Irish workers say their job leaves them too tired to exercise.

Five hundred Irish workers were surveyed about their attitudes towards diet, exercise and work-life balance as part of the 'Healthy Working Report 2020'. Almost one in five workers claim to have a poor work-life balance, while 68pc of workers reported they are currently experiencing some form of stress.

A considerable number of Irish employees are at risk of burnout and it is in no small part due to the insidious rise of always-on work culture. After a long day at work, we're often too tired to exercise, too tired to cook and too tired to have sex. Yet we're rarely, if ever, too tired to scroll mindlessly on our phones.

There is no doubt that workplace stress is linked to the exhaustion epidemic, but we can hardly tot up the overtime hours we're spending in the office without taking a long, hard look at the weekly screen-time reports on our phones.

The truth is that most of us are working a double shift. We clock into the office and then, later that day, we clock into our phones, where we consume endless amounts of data despite taking very little of it in.

It brings to mind the 'entrepreneur's dilemma' popularised by Randi Zuckerberg. The entrepreneur and author (and sister of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg) says we can only have three of the five life goals (work, sleep, family, fitness or friends) at one time.

Her advice will resonate with anyone trying to juggle it all but they ought to remember that these life goals are impeded by a sixth pillar that often takes precedence - keeping up with the content overload on our phones.

We blame toxic workplaces for our tiredness without considering the consequences of toxic social media platforms. We give out about the relentless pace of work without considering the time we put into the endless scroll in the evenings. We complain about demanding bosses without acknowledging that we're slaves to our phones.

Here are just a few ways technology is making us too tired to do anything else.

1. You can't recall anything without the help of Google. It has become, as Google co-founder Sergei Brin had hoped, "the third half of your brain".

2. You have dating app fatigue and a general sense of ennui after receiving yet another winky-face Emoji.

3. You only read the headlines of articles and you go into a fast-twitch frenzy as you race to the bottom of your news feed.

4. You have experienced WhatsApp paranoia. Why hasn't your friend responded when there are two blue ticks beside your message? Is she upset with you? Is everyone upset with you?

5. You are eternally seeking validation (and dopamine) via social media likes and love hearts.

6. You have a persistent, all-consuming fear that you may one day lose your phone.

7. And a niggling feeling that your phone may be destroying your marriage.

8. You worry that you may get left behind by technology. You don't know what Blockchain, IoT and TikTok are - and you thought 5G was a boy band.

9. You experience crippling decision fatigue when faced with a plethora of choice on Amazon - and you once spent three hours searching for the perfect ironing board.

10. You feel like you're being watched by the digital Stasi. Is Alexa logging your conversations? Is the social media filter bubble influencing your GE20 choices? Does your Airbnb host have a secret camera installed?

11. You know all too well what the post-Netflix binge blues feel like. And it doesn't help that you have to get up for work in five hours.

12. You worry that your children's screen time is damaging their health, but you can't go on about it when you've been on ASOS for the last hour.

13. You spend excessive amounts of time crafting social media quips and Gram-worthy photos.

14. You're obsessed with health and fitness trackers, even if they're making you a touch anxious.

15. You really want to do a digital detox, but you couldn't imagine being without your phone for more than four hours.

Irish Independent