02 Nov 4 Ways Your Phone Affects Your Mental Wellbeing
Recently, discourse surrounding mental health has increased. Personalities in the public eye, including Prince William and Harry, are helping alleviate the stigma around talking about mental health openly. These conversations remind us that mental health applies to all of us. We all sit somewhere on the spectrum of mental wellbeing – but this is not fixed, rather, it’s fluid. At times we can feel our mental health is “good”, and other times we can find ourselves at the other end of this spectrum.
At Time To Log Off, we know that many things can influence our mental wellbeing and how we feel. Yet, we’re also aware that an increasing number of studies are highlighting how smartphones and modern technologies can, at times, be detrimental to our mental health. We’re exploring the key pillars of “good” mental health and how our smartphones influence some of these, perhaps without us realising. Our hero concept of digital detox is not about doing away with our smartphones and their benefits because they could affect us negatively. It’s about recognising why frequent screen breaks are important and when we need them.
What is “good” mental health?
Mind charity’s description of “good” mental wellbeing is summarised as:
- feeling relatively confident with a sense of positive self-esteem
- being able to feel and express a range of different emotions
- being successful at fostering and maintaining relationships
- feeling engaged with your surroundings
- working and living productively
- coping with the stresses thrown at us in daily life
- being able to adapt during uncertain times
4 ways smartphones affect mental wellbeing
#1 A sense of positive self-esteem
Ever feel down after scrolling through someone’s Instagram feed? One of the big ways our smartphones, and the constantly-connected culture they promote, affect our mental wellbeing is through self-esteem. Despite its many benefits, few can claim they haven’t compared themselves to others online when using social media. Our social platforms are outlets to be creative and express ourselves, yet they can leave us feeling inferior and under pressure to live or look a certain way. In fact, a recent study revealed that two thirds of secondary school children wouldn’t mind if social media didn’t exist and 52 per cent agreed that social media makes them feel less confident about their appearance or how interesting their life is.
#2 Working and living productively
Feeling fulfilled can influence our mental wellbeing. Achieving what is set out for you at work or school and pursuing your own goals can lead to a sense of accomplishment. Of course, our phones are not the sole reason we may not be achieving what we plan to, but their ability to distract us and negatively impact our productivity can play a role. We check our phones around 150 times a day. How many of those times are absent-minded and preventing us from getting a task done?
#3 Feeling engaged with your surroundings
Feeling engaged means being mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness, the practice of focusing on the present moment and how you’re feeling, is not always easy in the digital world. We’re constantly fed information through the screens we carry in our pockets, rarely allowing our minds to switch off and wander. This can negatively affect our creativity and how connected we feel to what’s around us.
#4 Maintaining relationships
The paradox is that, while we’re seemingly more connected than ever, our smartphone society can be a lonely place. Spending quality time with friends and loved ones is important for our mental wellbeing. Yet, our phones are constantly tugging for our attention. They distract us from our real, person-to-person conversations in favour of far less rewarding device-to-device interactions.
These points show how important it is to step back from technology now and again. Although we wouldn’t be without our smartphones, frequently enjoying a digital detox is a good way to care for your mental wellbeing, find perspective and become more mindful.