Written by: The Circles Team

January 31, 2021

Here’s the deal: the world’s current setting has made us all addicted to our phones. With COVID-19, politics, and the never-ending breaking news cycle, we are all hooked on our alerts and notifications all day long.

Experts say the barrage of text alerts and constant social media engagement on our smartphones can take a toll on our mental and emotional health. For years, but mostly since the beginning of 2020, our phones have acted as a direct conduit to anxiety, with a stream of upsetting information during very stressful times.

Spending hours and hours on your phone can lead to physical issues, such as bad eyesight, a sore neck, and tense shoulder muscles. But it can also lead to significant anxiety symptoms, such as insomnia, heart palpitations, and constant worries.

The solution? We can adopt practices in our daily routine to put our phones away and take a breather.

How to manage phone-induced stress:

Technology is a tool, not the destination. Use your phone as a tool to help you get things done, but not as a source of entertainment or replacement for social connections.

Turn off alerts and notifications. Choose three apps where getting notifications is most important for you, such as your messages or fitness app, and turn off all notifications for all the rest. Notifications are a major anxiety trigger, so it’s better to eliminate them.

Create a time frame for when you check and answer emails and messages. You don’t have to respond immediately to every message. With working from home, it’s even more important to set boundaries for your availability.

Get your news from a news outlet, not social media. Social media is full of fake news and conspiracies, which do nothing but stress you out.

Set a time frame for your smartphone usage in general. Try to start using it only after being awake at least one hour in the morning, and stop using it one hour before going to bed at night.

The weak division between our lives and technology

There’s no doubt that in 2020, technology became an increasingly indispensable resource. Technology has preserved our ability to work from home, and has kept us in touch with our loved ones while quarantining at home during the pandemic – a situation that’s still going on in many parts of our country and around the world.

But it’s important to remember that technology can also force us to move beyond healthy communications, and rely on screens rather than interpersonal connections. It’s important not to fall into a “rabbit hole of information” where you go almost into a time warp – where you’re reading a Wikipedia page, and then go to Facebook, and then suddenly realize you’ve lost an hour of your day. Find a method that works to take consistent breaks from your phone and computer during the day. Even while following the pandemic restrictions and guidelines – which we need to do for the sake of our own and others’ health – you can still find outdoor activities to keep your mind and body busy and fresh.

We must figure out how to restore balance to how we integrate technology into our lives because our mental health relies on finding ways for us to unwind.

If you feel like stress these days is too much for you to handle alone, join our Circles of Support to get the support you need and support others going through similar situations. Our Circles are led by professionals and are small groups, providing you with a safe place to process your emotions and current events.