Can Your Smartphone Increase Stress? (Yes, It Can)

Written by: The Circles Team

Jan 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.

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How to Deal with Political Anxiety

Written by: The Circles Team

Jan 12, 2021

Among the many difficulties this past year has brought with it, an uncertain political climate is also something that’s impacted our lives. With the pandemic, the social movements over the summer, the election, and recent events in the capital, many Americans report high levels of anxiety connected to the social and political climate in the country. What’s the good news? Our team of experts at Circles have some easy tips to deal with the stress and anxiety you may be experiencing right now:

  1. Set boundaries Staying connected and informed can reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown, but there’s such a thing as too much news. Set some boundaries when it comes to your daily news intake. Find a solution that will keep you informed, but not too overwhelmed and consumed by the never-ending news cycle. Decide on the times and channels where you want to consume your news, and stick to it. This way, you’ll be in the know, but won’t be greatly affected by the repeating news.

  2. Take a social media break Social media is a major time-consuming activity and source, though not necessarily the most trustworthy source for breaking, current events. Take a break from social media and from looking at your phone. If something major happens, you will know. Fill your spare time with relaxing and enjoyable activities, such as reading, working out, watching a fun TV show, or speaking with a friend on the phone.

  3. Change what’s changeable and control what’s controllable — and understand the difference. Understanding what we can control and what we can change is a powerful component in controlling our own stress levels. Accepting the notion that we can only control ourselves and change things for us is a powerful reminder not to get caught up in trying to change things that are beyond our control.

Feeling like you can use some support? Join our Circles!

Five Tips To Mindfully Calm Your Anxiety

Written by: The Circles Team

Dec 23, 2020

Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn said that we should “Smile, breathe, and walk slow when feeling anxious.” Much truth is held in these simple actions. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, controlling anxiety is more manageable said than done. If getting rid of stress appears so easy on the surface, why is it that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year?

What is Anxiety? Anxiety is feelings of worry and stress that won’t go away. It can show up as intense nervousness and fear. Anxiety is sneaky and can manifest itself physically, causing increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, or nausea. It manipulates and lies to us. It causes self-doubt, worries, what-ifs, and worse case scenarios.

If we aren’t careful, anxiety can make our thoughts spin out of control. The good news is that by adding little bursts of mindfulness throughout our day, we can gain the power we need to reduce feelings of anxiety and calm our worries.

How to Be Mindful When Anxious:

Whether your anxiety is mild or intense, felt occasionally, or felt every day – these five proven tips can calm your anxiety in no time. The good news is that you will have the ability to outsmart your anxiety and worries everything single time with a little practice.

Let it Go: There is so much in life that we can’t control. We can’t control these things to disrupt our calm and peace of mind if we let them. The only thing that we really can control is how we react to uncertainty and life’s challenges. One of life’s best lessons is letting go of the need to control the things we have no control over.

Breathe in and Out: Breathing, it’s the simplest thing we can do, and it works almost instantly in calming our nerves and anxiety. No special skills are required. We can do it anywhere, at any time. It is that simple. Take a deep breath. And repeat. Again, and again and again.

Interrupt Your Anxiety: Anxiety moves out of my way. There is no place for you here. Interrupting your anxiety with an activity you enjoy is a sure way to calm your worries. Find what works for you and change it up. Reading a good book or going for a walk are excellent ways to find a distraction. Connecting with a friend and sharing in positive conversation can take your mind off your troubles in no time.

Soothe Your Soul With Sound: Take the time to make a playlist of the sounds most peaceful to you. Is it a specific song or artist? The sound of water flowing or birds chirping? Music or sound has the power to lift our moods almost immediately. Anxiety and negative emotions can be difficult to sustain when surrounded by the soothing sounds we love.

At Circles, our Circles of Support will help you find balance in your life challenges by surrounding you with like-minded people and professional therapist in small, virtual groups. Join our Circles to be surrounded by support.

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