Are you constantly stressed and overwhelmed? Are you worried that you aren’t measuring up or getting enough done? It could be that your smartphone is to blame.
Smartphones, Stress, and Anxiety
It’s no coincidence that national stress and anxiety levels have increased alongside the growth of smartphones, social media, and digital technology. Experts say our addiction to screens is playing a definitive role in our declining mental and emotional health in several profound ways.
For one, having a smartphone in your pocket gives you accessibility to the latest news and updates around the clock. And this endless stream of notifications can provoke feelings of fight or flight in your body.
“Adrenaline and stress hormones like cortisol are activated. They make us ready to respond to a threat,” says Yamalis Díaz, PhD. “This overload of information, especially stressful information, basically activates that system more often and keeps it more active.”
The more you check your phone, the more your brain enters into this “high alert” mindset. And if you’re constantly in this state, it becomes impossible to unwind, relax, focus, or concentrate on the more important things in life.
This is becoming even more problematic as an entirely new generation of young adults has now spent most of their lives with a smartphone in hand. The latest studies show that declining mental health in young people is almost always caused by some level of smartphone addiction. And until we learn how to deal with this issue, it’ll continue to plague our society for years to come.
4 Ways to Make Your Smartphone Less Stressful
On an individual level, there are some ways to curb the impact your smartphone has on your stress and anxiety levels. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Delete Distracting Apps
There might be an app for everything, but this doesn’t mean you need an app for everything. In other words, just because you can download something, doesn’t mean you should.
If your phone has a screen time analysis feature where you can see how much time you spend on different apps, you will benefit from reviewing it. By removing the apps that suck up the most time without adding any real value, you can free your mind up to focus on more empowering things.
Examples of distracting apps include social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.), time-killing games, and news-related sites and feeds.
2. Download Helpful Apps
While some apps are a distraction, other apps can positively impact your health and well-being. For example, the Neuvana app (combined with a patented electronic device that delivers gentle micropulses through headphones) can aid mental health by reducing stress and providing benefits like relaxation and focus.
The Lumosity app is another good option. It features brain training exercises to improve your cognitive skills. Downloading apps like these can turn your phone into a useful tool.
3. Reorganize Your Home Screen
Once you’ve deleted distracting apps and installed helpful ones, it’s up to you to optimize your phone so that you’re more likely to engage with your phone’s useful features. One way to do this is by reorganizing your home screen.
The objective with reorganizing your home screen is to make beneficial apps easy and accessible, while hiding the less useful apps in places where you have to click or swipe to find them. This added bit of friction will make it less likely that you slip up.
4. Silence Notifications
Many people have good intentions with their phones. And while they don’t proactively reach for their phone to play games or scroll through social media, it happens. Why? The simplest answer is “push notifications.”
When you hear that ring or ding of your phone, your mind is immediately taken captive. Whatever you were previously doing is no longer important. You reach for your phone, check the notification, and find yourself running down a rabbit hole of distraction.
If you can’t remove an app, at least consider silencing your notifications. This will prevent a constant barrage of unnecessary interruptions.
Set Yourself Up for Success
It’s possible to have and enjoy a smartphone without being controlled by it. With simple tweaks and improvements, you can simplify your smartphone and avoid many of the triggers that so often promote feelings of stress and anxiety. Properly optimized, your phone can become a powerful force for productivity and good.