Navigating Notification Stress

A necessary practice in my recovery from trauma is setting all notifications on any application and device to their least disruptive state – no sounds, no flags, nothin’. I’ll turn some back on as occasion or convenience demands. Additionally, I block “study hall” when I know I might need to move through more than one platform or portal to connecting with a community or organization.

I was already practicing this by the time I read Aditi Joshi’s Rethinking the Notifications Process, which affirmed a lot of why this was such an effective practice for me. This article focuses on how UX researchers can follow SAHMSA’s trauma-informed approach in design based on the model’s grounding principles:

A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.

We’re an active Network: there’s a lot going on – in a lot of different places – all the time. We use a variety of tools for communication and collaboration. They definitely weren’t all designed with a trauma-informed mindset (few are!), which then compounds how hard it is for us to use them when we center that intention ourselves.

I’m curious how others navigate their own relationship to tooling and notifications. For example, I’ve got a complicated relationship with Slack – I enjoy the immediacy I feel of being in the virtual company of others. But I can get lost in conversations pretty easily, especially if one or more of us is trying to explore a complexity at length. Especially if that person is me.

And thus, each new notification of engagement instead becomes a source of stress that clouds my read of what’s happening. I’ve been developing a new ‘rule’ for myself – if I’m about to explore something that might take up several minutes and a lot of real estate on the screen, I should check in with the other person or people to see if we’re all actually comfortable communicating that way. We’ve got access to many other ways and some of those may support our shared needs better – like a quick huddle when possible, or a scheduled Zoom call instead.

Is that relatable for anyone else? Are there other tips or tricks you’ve used to know which comm/collab tool to use when, based on your stress level or the stress of others?


Notifications are the bane of my existence. I have found using the focus mode on my Apple devices makes a big difference but also spend lots of effort silencing or tuning out the notifications. The worst are the spam ones where things like food delivery apps that I have to leave them on to get updates will then bug me to use them randomly.


Food delivery apps are top offenders in my search to squash involuntary notifications! I feel like they have some sneaky way of updating regularly so it resets my system settings – they’re slipping through the cracks all the tiiiime.

Notifications are annoying! Anxiety can most definitely be a direct reaction. I have learned throughout the last few years on my phone to completely disable notifications that are of little to no importance. I have silent notifications on my laptop as well. I am able to go from my phone and laptop seamlessly. My phone has become an appendage which for the most part is silenced too. Not only for my sake but for my husband and family. Being interrupted with noises that are meant for your immediate attention can make one feel that they must address it without missing a beat. Feeling like I am at the mercy of a beck and call is suffocating. As I told an individual who thinks I must answer their calls and texts that instant or I’m not a friend, " I don’t sit and wait for a business, ad or person every second of the day. We all have responsibilities and mine is to be sure my family and I have as little stress as possible." With all the pressures we put on ourselves to meet those important deadlines, annoying sounds that feel like I am On Demand is one I don’t need. Thanks @renejoywrites for giving more context on a subject not discussed often yet, can be a major pain point for most.


Definitely! I consider most notifications to be ads for apps. Why would I invite more of that into my life? I wholeheartedly endorse the low-notification lifestyle.