Picture this: You get to work at 7:55 AM. By 8:10 AM you’re settled in and starting to work on your tasks for the day. You wonder if anyone has left any messages for you on Facebook from the day before. You reach for your phone but it’s not there. In a rush to leave for work on time you forgot your phone! What if someone sends you an important text and you miss it? What if your kids need you? How many likes did you get on the last meme you posted? Are you feeling anxious yet? You’re not alone. When was the last time you put down your phone and really connected with people and things around you?
Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to… Your Smartphone?
Many of us laugh about being addicted to our technology. In reality, this is no laughing matter. Being addicted to smartphones and social media is much like being addicted to a drug. The reason behind this is dopamine, a chemical in your brain. Getting likes, comments, or text messages triggers the release of dopamine, making you feel pleasure. You keep wanting to go back for more. This need can have a significant impact on your life in ways you might not even realize.
It’s Affecting Your Friendships
Has it been awhile since you last saw your best friend? Sure you text them all the time but when was the last time you actually hung out? Sometimes people think that texting someone all the time substitutes for spending quality time together. While it’s possible to have a meaningful conversation via text, there’s no substitute for one-on-one time. Take the time to hang out and really reconnect.
When you do get quality time with your BFF, do you feel like you actually spent time with them? Or are still feeling lonely even after your long lunch together? If you reflect back, odds are one or both of you were on your phones. This takes away from the interaction because you’re not getting the most out of your time together.
Try setting some ground rules for getting together. Instead of setting your phone on the table keep it in your purse or pocket. Conversation occasionally dies down. If your phone is put away you are less likely to automatically reach for it to soothe the awkward silence. Take the opportunity to find out something new about your friend instead.
It’s Affecting Your Romantic Relationships
Has intimacy between you and your partner started to become an issue? Relationship counselors like Deb Owens have noticed a trend in marriatial and family strife because of smartphones. Partners and children are increasingly starting to feel snubbed because of smartphone use. They often feel ignored or less important than what’s happening on the phone.
In cases like these, listen to what your spouse or children are telling you. Set limits and boundaries for yourself. An article from CNN suggests using an app called Moment to track how much time you spend on the phone. Once you reach a certain limit, stop. Reconnect with the life that’s going on around you.
It’s Affecting Your Psyche
Web MD reported on a study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that linked smartphone use to depression and anxiety among college students. This was especially true for people who use the phones “to avoid dealing with unpleasant experiences or feelings.” When individuals constantly turn to their phone to comfort themselves they lose the ability to flex their emotional muscle. Therefore making them “more vulnerable to stressors.”
As humans, we learn different ways to cope with the stressors around us. The more ways we know how to handle negative emotions the more prepared we are when they strike. It aids us in fighting things like anxiety, depression, and grief.
How to Put Down Your Phone
Remember that feeling bored won’t hurt you. When it strikes, try finding other things around you to stimulate yourself. Keep a book or deck of cards handy for the moments when boredom is inevitable.
Around the house, keep a to-do list. Turn to it when you need an activity. Tackle small cleaning or repair projects. Plan your meals for the week, using cookbooks or magazines rather than the internet. Exercise or stretch. Play with your kids or pets.
If you find it impossible to put down your phone and leave it alone, remove it from your immediate surroundings. Put it in a drawer or on the charger in another room of the house. Leave it at home when you go for a walk. If you feel really brave, leave it at home all day!
Do you find yourself relating to many of things in this article? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are also many things you can do to help fight the addiction of cell phone use. Are you looking for more ways than what this article suggest? Check out Huffpost for more ideas on how to limit your cell phone usage.
PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain