What Is Digital Burnout and How Can It Be Avoided?

Being overwhelmed by digital clutter has become an increasingly common problem in modern society as our lives become more connected to technology than ever before. This was especially true during the unprecedented period of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what exactly is digital burnout?

This phenomenon can be described as a form of mental exhaustion caused by a combination of factors, including frequent use of technology, information overload, too many tasks, and little downtime from screens or devices that provide us with constant communication and connection.

As our lives become increasingly intertwined with technology, understanding how to identify this issue and make changes for healthier online habits are important steps on the way to a technology balance that leaves you feeling energized rather than depleted in the long run.

In this four-step guide, we will explore how to understand, prevent, cope, and engage with digital burnout so that you can stay productive and enjoy a balanced lifestyle free from artificial stressors brought about by an always-connected society.

 Burnt out and exhausted creative entrepreneur

1. Understanding Digital Burnout

Understanding digital burnout is essential to avoiding it. In today's world, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly common, and it is important to be aware of the signs so that you can take steps to prevent it from reaching dangerous levels. Knowing how to identify the issue and make changes for healthier online habits are keys to maintaining a balanced lifestyle free from artificial stressors brought about by our always-connected society.

Defining digital burnout, symptoms, and causes

By scientific definition, burnout is defined as a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Therefore, digital burnout is a form of burnout that is specifically related to the use of technology.

Digital burnout is a combination of burnout symptoms caused by the overuse of digital devices, information overload, and too many tasks with little downtime from screen time or devices. It is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion brought on by prolonged or excessive stress from technology use.

Common symptoms of digital burnout:

Listed below are the most common symptoms you will experience when suffering from digital burnout:

  • feeling overwhelmed
  • irritable
  • unmotivated
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating

As you now have an understanding of the common symptoms, let's cover the most common causes.

Common causes of digital burnout:

In the 21st century, technology has become a constant aspect of life, and it can be easy to get lost in the endless stream of notifications and emails.

Listed below are the most common causes of digital burnout.

  • Frequent use of technology
  • Excessive time spent on technology
  • Information overload
  • Too many tasks
  • Little downtime from screens or devices

Digital burnout is a state of mental exhaustion that can occur when we spend too much time on technology, are overloaded with information, and have too many tasks to complete with little downtime from screens or devices.

It can be difficult to recognise because it often manifests itself in subtle ways, such as feeling overwhelmed, irritable, or unmotivated in our personal lives. To avoid digital burnout, it is important to be aware of the signs and take steps to create healthier online habits that will help us maintain a balanced lifestyle free from artificial stressors.

Now that you know the definition, signs, and causes of digital burnout, let's review methods to prevent or mitigate it.

 burnt out creative entrepreneur

2. Preventing and Avoiding Digital Burnout

Preventing and avoiding digital burnout is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship with technology.

We've outlined some of the best ways to prevent and avoid digital burnout below:

Take regular breaks from screens and devices

Taking regular breaks from screens and devices is essential for avoiding digital burnout. Taking a break from technology can help to reset your mind, reduce stress levels, improve concentration, and increase productivity.

This can be done by setting aside specific times during the day when you will not use any digital devices or screens.

Additionally, it is important to take time away from technology on weekends or holidays in order to give yourself the opportunity to focus on other activities and recharge. By doing this, you can help prevent digital burnout and maintain healthy levels of stress.

Set boundaries for yourself when it comes to technology use

Setting boundaries for yourself when it comes to technology use is an important step in avoiding digital burnout. This can include setting limits on the amount of time you spend on devices or limiting the number of notifications you receive.

It can also be helpful to set specific times during the day when you will not use any technology or devices, such as during meals or before bed. Additionally, it can be beneficial to turn off notifications for certain apps or websites that are not essential.

Prioritise tasks and focus on one at a time

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks that need to be completed, but it is important to take the time to prioritise them and focus on one task at a time.

This will help you stay organised and focused, as well as reduce stress levels. What's more, it can be helpful to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Limit the amount of time you spend on social media or other digital activities

Limiting your time on social media and other digital activities is an important step toward avoiding digital burnout. While social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, it can also have negative aspects that can lead to stress and distraction.

To avoid digital burnout, it is important to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to technology use, such as limiting the amount of time spent on social media or other digital activities.

Additionally, taking regular breaks from screens and devices can help reset your mind and reduce stress levels. Finally, prioritising tasks and focusing on them one at a time can help you stay organised and focused while reducing stress levels. By following these tips, you can help prevent digital burnout and maintain healthy levels of stress.

Make sure to get enough sleep and exercise regularly

Getting enough sleep and exercising regularly are important steps in avoiding digital burnout. Not getting enough sleep can lead to fatigue, which can make it difficult to concentrate and focus on tasks. Additionally, regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve concentration.

It is important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night and to make sure you are getting regular physical activity. Exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve concentration.

Unplug from technology for a few hours each day

Taking a break from technology can help to reset your mind and give you the opportunity to focus on other activities. It can also help to reduce stress levels, improve concentration, and increase productivity.

Try setting aside specific times during the day when you will not use any technology or devices, such as during meals or at the end of the day. A great thing to do when unplugging from technology is to journal.

The OCCO London Morning Mindset Journal includes daily prompts that encourage you to meditate, move your body, reflect on what you are grateful for, set affirmations for the day, and plan out your goals.

It also includes inspiring coaching questions to help you create deeper connections with yourself and your goals. With this journal, you can start each day with a positive mindset and be ready to take on whatever life throws at you.

Actively manage your digital use

Actively managing your digital use is an important step in avoiding digital burnout. It is important to be mindful of how much time you are spending on digital activities and to set boundaries for yourself.

Try setting limits for yourself when it comes to technology use, such as limiting the amount of time spent on social media or other digital activities. Additionally, taking regular breaks from screens and devices can help reset your mind and reduce stress levels.

Ways to create a healthy balance between digital use and offline activities

Creating a healthy balance between digital use and offline activities is essential for avoiding digital burnout. Here are some tips to help you create this balance:

Set boundaries

Establish specific times during the day when you will not use any technology or devices, such as during meals or before bed. This will help you stay focused and productive while also giving you time to relax and recharge.

Take breaks

Taking regular breaks from digital platforms can help to reset your mind and give you the opportunity to focus on activities that don't involve technology.

This could include going for a walk, reading a book, or engaging in creative pursuits. Taking time away from digital platforms can help reduce stress levels, improve concentration, and increase productivity.

Limit your social media use

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media or other digital activities can help reduce stress levels and improve concentration.

Get outside

Spending time outdoors can be a great way to unplug from technology and connect with nature.

Now that you have an understanding of how to prevent and avoid digital burnout, let's look at some great coping strategies if burnout has already hit!

 Birdhouse and set up creative entrepreneur

3. Strategies For Coping When Digital Burnout Strikes

When complete burnout from digital use strikes, it is essential to take steps to reduce stress and restore balance. This can include setting boundaries for yourself, taking regular breaks from technology, limiting your social media use, getting outside in nature, and engaging in activities that don't involve technology.

It is important to get enough sleep and exercise, as these are key components of a healthy lifestyle. By following these strategies, you can help prevent digital burnout and create a healthier balance between digital use and offline activities.

Here are some coping strategies that can help:

Take a break from technology

Taking a break from technology for a period of time can help reduce digital burnout levels and restore balance. Establish specific times during the day when you will not use any technology or devices, such as during meals or before bed.

This will help you stay focused and productive while also giving you time to relax and recharge. Taking regular breaks from digital platforms can help reset your mind and give you the opportunity to focus on activities that don't involve technology.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for avoiding digital burnout. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night and avoid using technology in the hour before bedtime.

Scientifically speaking, if you don't get enough sleep each night, your brain won't be able to properly process information, and you'll be more likely to experience an even greater intensity of digital burnout.

Exercise and prioritise your mental health

Exercise can help improve your physical health, reduce stress levels, and improve concentration, making it an important part of avoiding digital burnout. Try to incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine.

In addition to exercise, it is important to prioritise your mental health. Make sure you are taking time for yourself and engaging in activities that bring you joy. This could include reading a book, going for a walk, or spending time with friends and family.

ParkRun, which is a 5km fun run, is held every Saturday in towns across the U.K. and the rest of the world. It is a great way to get out and about, meet new people, and get some exercise. Travelling around the UK or the world to do as many different ParkRuns in different towns and cities has become a thing.

Connect with others and participate in activities

Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress levels and give you the opportunity to focus on something other than technology. Additionally, participating in activities such as yoga or meditation can help reduce stress and improve concentration.

Take a digital detox and schedule "digital-free" times

Taking a digital detox and scheduling "digital-free" times can be an effective way to reset your mind and body. Set aside one day each week when you will not use any technology or devices, allowing yourself to focus on other activities and reconnect with yourself.

This will help reduce stress levels and improve concentration, ultimately helping to avoid digital burnout caused by excessive digital usage.

Meditation is a powerful tool to help reduce stress and anxiety. There are many apps available to help you get started with meditating, such as Headspace or Calm.

By following these strategies, you can help reduce the effects of digital burnout and restore balance in your daily life. Remember that it is important to take regular breaks from technology and prioritise your mental health in order to avoid digital burnout.

Burnt out and exhausted female  creative entrepreneur

4. Positive Ways to Engage with Technology After Experiencing Digital Burnout

After experiencing digital burnout, it is important to find positive ways to engage with technology. If you let it keep reappearing in your life, it can be difficult to break the cycle.

Here are some tips for engaging with technology in a positive way:

Identify what type of engagement meets personal needs and goals

Identifying what type of engagement with technology will help you meet your personal needs and goals. Think about how you want to use technology in a way that is beneficial for you, such as to stay connected with friends or learn something new.

Knowing what you want from technology will help you stay focused and avoid digital burnout in the future. A great way that I have positively reduced my time on social media is to remove all relevant social media applications from my mobile device. Therefore, you can only check things when using your laptop or a desktop computer.

In addition to social media, you can do this with emails and task managers like Monday or Notion.Try to make your phone as boring as possible.

Utilizing technology mindfully and consciously to improve productivity, creativity, or relationships

Utilizing technology mindfully and consciously can help to improve productivity, creativity, and relationships.

When using technology, it is important to be aware of how it is impacting your life. For example, if you find yourself spending too much time on social media or playing video games, take a step back and think about how this is affecting your mental health.

To use technology mindfully and consciously, try setting limits on how much time you spend on certain activities and being mindful of how it is impacting your life. Additionally, try to use technology in a way that will help you reach your goals or improve relationships with others.

Seeking out technology-free options when possible

Seeking out technology-free options when possible is a great way to avoid digital burnout.

Technology can be a great tool for staying connected with others, but it can also be overwhelming and distracting. Taking time away from technology can help reduce stress levels and give you the opportunity to focus on other activities.

Try to find activities that don’t involve technology, such as going for a walk, reading a book, or spending time with friends.

One other thing you can do, for example, to help you use your phone less is to use an old-school radio when wanting to listen to music as opposed to BBC sounds or a physical priority desk pad as opposed to the notes functionality on your phone.

In conclusion, digital burnout can be avoided by taking a digital detox and scheduling "digital-free" times. Additionally, it is important to identify what type of engagement with technology meets personal needs and goals, utilise technology mindfully and consciously to improve productivity, creativity, or relationships, and seek out technology-free options when possible.

Taking these steps can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being, which is a key priority of ours here at OCCO London.

Stressed creative entrepreneur on his laptop

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have a better understanding of what digital burnout is and its symptoms, let's explore some frequently asked questions to provide an even more in-depth analysis of the topic.

What are some common causes of digital burnout?

Common causes of digital burnout include spending too much time on technology, multitasking with multiple devices, and not taking breaks from technology.

What's more, digital burnout can be caused by using technology to fill an emotional void or to escape reality. Other causes of digital burnout may include feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information available online or feeling pressure to stay connected with others through social media.

Finally, digital burnout can also be caused by feeling like you need to constantly check your email or other notifications.

Are there certain types of people who might be more prone to experiencing digital burnout?

Yes, certain types of people may be more prone to experiencing digital burnout. Below, we have outlined the three most common types of people who suffer from digital burnout:

Technology dependants

Those who are highly dependent on technology or who have difficulty managing their time and setting boundaries with technology may be more likely to experience digital burnout.

Existing mental health issues

Those who are already struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression may be more susceptible to the effects of digital burnout. Therefore, please be kind to yourself and take the relevant steps you need to get yourself back in fine form.

Multitaskers

Those who are constantly multitasking with multiple devices may also be more prone to digital burnout, as their brains may not be able to keep up with the constant influx of information and jumping between tasks. A caveman wasn't designed to jump across multiple web browsers while focusing on multiple tasks.

These three are the most common, but as society is so reliant on mobile technology, we are all susceptible to digital burnout.

What are ways to prevent digital burnout from occurring?

One of the best ways to prevent digital burnout is to take regular breaks from technology.

This can be done by scheduling "digital-free" times throughout the day, such as taking a lunch break away from your devices or setting aside an hour in the evening for a tech-free activity.

Additionally, it is important to identify what type of engagement with technology meets personal needs and goals and to limit time spent on activities that do not.

Finally, it is important to practise self-care and to be mindful of how technology is impacting your mental health. Taking the time to relax and unplug can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

How can one restore balance after having experienced digital burnout?

Restoring balance after experiencing digital burnout can be a difficult process, but it is possible. The first step is to identify the causes of digital burnout and take steps to address them.

This may include setting boundaries with technology, taking regular breaks from devices, and limiting time spent on activities that do not meet personal needs or goals.

It is also important to practise self-care and engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being.

This could include taking a walk, reading a book, journaling, or engaging in a hobby. Also, it is important to seek help if needed and to talk to friends or family about how you are feeling. If you are still struggling and feeling low after some time away from digital use, it would be highly valuable to speak with your GP or counsellor to help resolve the problem.

To conclude, it is important to remember that digital burnout is a real issue and that it can be managed with the right strategies.

Are there any specific steps one can take to diminish feelings of digital fatigue and exhaustion?

Yes, there are specific steps one can take to diminish feelings of digital fatigue and exhaustion.

Firstly, it is important to set boundaries with technology and limit time spent on activities that do not meet personal needs or goals.

Secondly, it is important to take regular breaks from devices and engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as taking a walk, reading a book, journaling, or engaging in a hobby.
The OCCO London Morning Mindset Journal is a great tool to encourage you to meditate, move your body, reflect on what you are grateful for, set affirmations for the day, and plan out your goals.

It also includes inspiring coaching questions to help you create deeper connections with yourself and your goals. With this journal, you can start each day with a positive mindset and be ready to take on whatever life throws at you.

Finally, it is important, if you are struggling and feeling low after some time away from digital use, to speak with a GP or counsellor who would be able to help you and give you the help you need.

Is there any advice for those entering a digital career such as web development or data science when it comes to avoiding digital burnout?

Yes, there is advice for those entering a digital career such as web development or data science when it comes to avoiding occupational burnout.

Firstly, it is important to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done, and this can lead to burnout. Setting achievable goals and breaking tasks down into smaller chunks can help you stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed. (Here's an article on how to set goals—just for you!)

Secondly, it is important to take regular breaks from devices and engage in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as taking a walk, reading a book, journaling, or engaging in a hobby. Taking regular breaks will help you to recharge and refocus your energy on the task at hand.

Thirdly, it is important to practise self-care and make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly. Taking care of your physical and mental health is essential for avoiding digital burnout.

Conclusion

Digital burnout is an increasingly prevalent issue within many job industries, and it is important for employers and employees alike to understand the amounts of time they are spending on digital activities, recognize its symptoms, and act accordingly in order to stay productive and healthy in their respective roles.

Setting boundaries with technology, taking regular breaks from devices, engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being, practising self-care, and setting realistic goals are all key steps one can take to avoid digital burnout.

By understanding the importance of managing digital use and taking proactive steps to prevent burnout, employers and employees can ensure a healthier work environment for everyone.

With these methods, which emphasise work-life balance and self-care at their core, one may cultivate a positive environment conducive to both personal well-being and professional productivity over the long term.

If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends and family, and do not forget to leave your comment.

At OCCO London, we are here to empower all you creatives to achieve your wildest dreams without the pain that Clare and I went through. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice and guidance, as we're here to help!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published