If I had to choose ONE thing that stresses me out me out more than anything else in my work life, it would be computer problems. It might not surprise you that I’m writing this blog because, on this very day, I am ready to tear my hair out due to multiple technical aggravators.There are thousands of articles and probably hundreds of books that talk about how to handle stress. But … do any of them talk specifically about how to handle the stress of heart-stopping technical issues? I couldn’t find any in my admittedly basic-level internet search.

I did however find a report entitled Combatting Computer Stress Syndrome that surveyed 1,000+ computer users, finding that two-thirds of them had experienced this phenomenon. Despite being self-proclaimed “savvy” users, people facing technical snafus had increased stress levels, in tandem with interrupted work or play time, loss of valuable data, dropped network or e-mail connections, and the inability to complete online purchases (that last one somehow did not garner my sympathies).

My particular technical snafus today included the inability to access my QuickBooks file, some disappearing and/or inaccessible emails, and problems getting my MacMail to retrieve my business email. At the same time, I am deciding whether or not to begin implementing a CRM system – a project that sends me into overwhelm after just about 2 minutes of thinking about it. Even as I write, my heart is racing and my head pounding. If only there were a yoga class I could escape to at 8pm on a Sunday night!

The article about Computer Stress Syndrome offered no solace, as it was focused on the quality of technical support – not on what to do when you are a business owner or other responsible professional facing time-sucking, aggravating and unexpected issues, or issues that you just have a hard time getting your mind around. Of course, decent tech support is essential to keeping stress levels from going through the roof. But needing to be on the phone with tech support at all is often the problem for me. I tend to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible.

And what about business-related projects like the CRM that I need to deal with and that I respond to just like I would a technical problem? I would love to hire someone to take care of it for me, but it seems that no matter whom I enroll, I need to make decisions and figure things out so they know how to proceed. In many areas, I have no problem directing people and being involved in decision-making processes. But when it comes to technology I sink.

The only thing I can figure out to lower my computer-induced stress levels is to take the time to solve the darned problem. In fact, I could not even complete the writing of this article until I spent an hour with Apple’s tech support team to make at least ONE of my technical issues go away. I think I have some limit, like I can handle it if there are 1-2 technical issues, but 3 or more and I’m toast.

I have no further wisdom to share on this topic and am writing to ask for yours. Does anyone out there have a coping mechanism to deal with the insidious Computer Stress Syndrome? If so, please do share. You might change a lot of people’s lives for the better.


  1. Just back away from the computer, slowly, slowly, that’s it, take some deep breaths, you can do it! 😉

    I feel your pain. We writers are in a tough situation. We depend upon technology for our livelihoods, but as creatives, we need to escape it to nourish our souls and minds to keep the creative juices flowing. How to strike that balance is tough.

    You’re on the right track with solving one issue at a time, enlisting help, and escaping when necessary. That’s why I got into belly dancing. Gets me away from the monitor and out of the house, like your yoga. We need that!

    Just don’t go crazy with a baseball bat like in the movie “Office Space.” But, you can always call me up, if you need someone to vent to.

  2. As someone who has worked in software engineering and studies computer science, technical issues are inevitable — no matter how tech savvy you are. I use Windows and I’ve probably re-installed the Windows operating system at least 10 times. The good news is that most technical issues can be fixed eventually as long as you are vigilant about backing up your data. If you have a good backup system, you can always recover from technical issues. You can always re-install the software, re-install the operating system, buy new computer parts, etc.

    So my answer is make sure you have a strong backup system. As long as you still have your data, you can recover. As bad as technical issues can be, losing your data is much much worse. For some advice about backups, see https://www.taobackup.com/

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