I've been trying to assess the level of reliance we have on our phones due to recent experiences.
In a previous post I spoke about the impacts of Social Media on our mental health (https://alwaysaisling.wixsite.com/blog/home/social-media-pressure) but it's becoming more apparent the level of addiction we have to our phones.
I have started taking the DART (Irish commuter train) to work and at least 95% of people sit scrolling through their phones. A pregnant lady had boarded at one stop last week and the people sitting around her didn’t even look at her to get up and offer their seat. I ended up walking down the carriage to offer her mine, observing that I was the only person without my phone out of the 40 people around her who didn't notice her.
We went on holidays to Brussels and Bruges over the long weekend. Sitting in the beautiful cafés enjoying the views and the atmosphere. I looked around and people are, again, scrolling through their phones rather than enjoying the company they are in.
The most unsettling experience I have found in the past year are those taking photos at landmark spots. In front of any iconic view you will almost always find people taking 100 different shots with 100 different poses. We witnessed a couple in Bruges who spent at least 30 minutes taking photos in different angles with a beautiful building in the background, not once stopping to soak in the views. We had a similar experience when we were in Portugal in October and the volume of people doing this is outstanding. I just can’t quite understand it. It’s a bit disappointing that people can’t enjoy their surroundings without thinking solely of the photo opportunity. The photo I have with this post was taken in one shot, no filter. I am taking these photos for the memories. To be in the moment, rather than thinking of the likes it will get.
How does all of this impact on our mental health? We are chasing dopamine which is a feel good chemical release. When we get a text or notification this chemical is released which makes us want to do it more and more and before we know it we can’t leave the phone down. This in turn leads to anxiety if we are separated from our phone, wondering what text we have missed – the fear of missing out. It impacts on our relationships. We think it makes us closer to people but it distracts us from the people we are with – texting or interacting with all of those who aren’t there rather than those who are.
I find people have no patience any more when waiting in a queue, on a plane or on a bus. They are shoving people out of the way running to the next destination. Is it a result of our brains constantly being stimulated from using the phone that when we are without the phones for a short while we can’t cope?
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, have you looked at your phone usage? I became aware that I was falling victim to my phone and I made a conscious effort to stop and put it away. It is difficult because we have slipped into these behaviours unknown to ourselves.
Some techniques that I use to switch off that you can try:
1. Leave the phone at home and go for a long walk. Notice if you’re feeling anxious or nervous having left it behind. Make it a routine to leave it behind and go for a daily walk so you can properly switch off.
2. Leave it locked away in another room for an evening and engage in other activities.
3. Turn it off an hour before bed. Put it on airplane mode. Read a book, have a bath – whatever makes you relax.
4. Take a week off from Social Media. Or start with a small step by limiting it to 20 minutes per day and then put it away.
Do you use any techniques to switch off? Do you find yourself addicted to your phone and can’t put it away? Is it causing you to be anxious or stressed?
Thank you for reading,