As the Edinburgh Festival comes to a close, I was reflecting on what stood out in my mind. My top three shows were the stupendous Flip-FabrQue, a remarkable French-Canadian acrobatic troupe; comedian Jason Byrne's laugh-out-loud improvisation and story-telling, and the University of Cape Town's Baxter Theatre Group who excelled in their performance of "The Fall": a brilliantly acted and sung insightful, searing play about equality and colonialism. The diversity of skill and quality makes choosing a favourite impossible. But despite all that, what stands out in my mind most is seeing the advert in my bank's window, "An audience with Pepper the humanoid robot - Banking as it should be" (sic).
So the sign intrigued me sufficiently to pop in! There was the usual queue of bored and impatient customers being served by pressed members of staff flanked by a display with a talking dancing robot that is currently trained to answer set questions. I knew this technology was already around but seeing it in my bank, getting prepped for use, took me by surprise.
Even if a bit of a struggle for me at times, technology has significant benefits so I am no Luddite. However, I am aware of increasing concern about poor mental wellbeing linked to the widespread use of technology. Indeed, the hypnotherapist and internationally known expert in depression Michael Yapko's recent Newsletter goes into the severity of the problem in some detail. For instance, there is growing and alarming research that connects a rising rate of anxiety and depression in adolescents with technology use. These adolescents are at increased risk for mental health problems as adults. The problems can stem from indefensible on-line bullying and exclusion by others, and, perhaps even more common, a lack of actual personal contact, addiction to and anxiety caused by checking social status on sites such as Facebook and Instagram which can lead to a drop in self-esteem when we perceive others' lives to be "better" than our own. Yapko has a useful book too, "Keys to Unlocking Depression" (2016). As our perception and thinking can be detrimentally altered by technology the book includes a section "Beware of the Potentially Negative Effects Technology Has on Depression: Be Smarter than Your Smartphone!". It is a self-help book I recommend to clients who have low mood and anxiety (or similar).
As the presence of the humanoid robot demonstrated, our future is inevitably going to be ever-increasingly integrated with technology. Obviously, there are people out there looking at the ethics and risks of all this as we move further into the 21st Century. But what small things can we do to promote a good balance of technology's benefits with its mental health risks? Following Yapko's advice would be a good starting place: take "time out" from technology's offerings by putting it aside for periods of time to allow interaction with others in conversation, get out to enjoy nature, meditate (or use self hypnosis), give time for self-expression through creative arts and exploration. In fact the Festival shows with friends were ideal! We already know good physical health requires regular exercise and healthy-eating - similarly, good mental health requires care and attention.
Yapko M PhD - August 2017 Newsletter
Yapko Michael D (2016) Keys to unlocking Depression: an Internationally Known Depression Expert Tells you What You Need to Know to Overcome Depression Yapko Publications
This is available from your local book store and Amazon including Kindle version:
Hypnotherapy is a useful complementary health technique which supports issues such as low-mood, anxiety, stress and panic attacks. There are many small changes and habits you can form to help you regain/maintain a positive perspective. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be more effective when used in conjunction with hypnosis (Yapko/others). If you have a deeper malaise/depression your GP will give advice in the first instance. Note that the use of antidepressant medication may affect the timing of hypnotherapy treatment. A combination of medication and CBT may work best for a deep depression as the treatments can affect different parts of the brain (Korb 2015). Alcohol abuse contributes to depression. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like a free phone consultation if any of these issues affect you. Call Audrey on 075 548 54321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org There are links to this email throughout the website and more information on the "About" page.