From the moment we wake up, to the moment we go back to sleep, our lives revolve around our digital devices. Our mobile phones have evolved from being a tool for communication to a means of running and keeping track of every aspect of our lives: business to entertainment, to working out, to navigating our way around town. Our obsession with our phones has turned into habit, and with endless apps and resources at our very fingertips, we feel almost naked and lost any time we part with our phones for any extended amount of time.
As we know – but avoid to admit – research shows the potential for serious repercussions from the overuse of and reliance on our phones.
In this article, we delve into the statistics of phone addiction, the possible side effects, the warning signs of over-dependence on your device and some ways you can train yourself to spend more time away from the screen.
The digital pandemic across the country
The average Australian spends around 5.6 hours a day looking at their phone, with 76% stating they check their phone within 10 minutes of waking up, and 46% volunteering that they feel addicted to their phone.
Like many addictions, the effects are both evident on our wallets and our wellbeing. With 33% of people stating that they regularly pay more for additional data usage, one has to wonder what sort of effects this extended phone use is having on our health.
The potential side effects of phone addiction
For the first time in human history, we are never truly alone with our thoughts. Always online, always connected; our brains can become cluttered with the never-ending input of information and stimulation. Here are some of the effects one might experience from too much phone time:
Increased stress and anxiety – Constant exposure to notifications from calls, texts, alerts and updates can take a serious toll on our brain’s ability to switch off. A new phenomenon, developed only in the last decade, means that our brains haven’t had time to adjust and adapt to the constant input we are receiving from our phones. More and more of us find we are suffering from digital overstimulation, resulting in increased stress and anxiety.
Diminished attention – The constant stream of messages and information from our smartphone can be overwhelming, making it difficult to focus our attention on any one thing for more than a few minutes without feeling bored or compelled to move on to something else. Our phones also encourage and enable us to procrastinate, taking us away from our tasks and rendering our output less effective.
Inhibiting deep thinking and creativity – The persistent vibrations, tones, and rings of your phone can distract you from important tasks, slowing your work and interrupting those essential quiet moments involved in being creative or problem-solving.
The signs and signals of phone addiction
If you’re concerned that your phone is consuming too much of your time and attention, here are some warning signs to look out for:
- Feeling the need to check your phone the moment you wake up and before you fall asleep
- Difficulty completing tasks at work or home
- Feeling more drawn to spending time ‘relaxing’ on your phone rather than interacting with friends or family
- Having a fear of missing out – feeling as though you’re missing out on important news or events if you’re not constantly checking your phone
- Feeling dread, panic, or anxiety from not having your phone on you when you leave it at home, or when it runs out of battery
Reversing your smartphone addiction
Creating focused and constructive, mindfulness-based rituals can help you have a balanced relationship with smartphone technology.
Set screen time limits for specific apps, always shutting them off 30 minutes before bed
Setting time limits for social media or attention-grabbing apps not only gives you time to rest and unwind but allows your mind the opportunity to reset before bed, promoting restful, uninterrupted sleep.
Allow your mind time to properly wake up before engaging with your phone
Checking your phone as soon as you wake up prevents your mind from easing out of its sleep state, which affects your brain’s ability to prioritise tasks and can negatively impact your productivity levels for the day. Instead of starting your morning by scrolling, create morning rituals that instil patience and focus on your day. Try meditating over your morning tea or coffee, exercising, journaling or listening to music before picking up your phone.
Minimise temptation to look at your phone
Try turning off your data or putting your phone on flight mode when completing important tasks or completing your self-care rituals. Create a tech-free zone in your home, or consider doing a digital detox. You could also try leaving your phone outside the bedroom to remove the temptation to pick it up as soon as you wake or before bed, charging it somewhere else overnight.
Read our article about how to conduct a digital detox here.
We get it… phones and technology have allowed society to evolve faster, create efficiencies, open wider and easier communication channels and even help us become a better home chef.
But as useful as our phones are, the principle of ‘everything in moderation’ applies.
By mindfully injecting balance into how you manage your screen time each day, the benefits for your mental health and clarity will naturally occur.
If you feel like your phone is negatively affecting your health and productivity but can’t escape, maybe it’s time to escape Eden Health Retreat to completely disconnect and recharge. Click here to read more about the Eden experience.