14 Nov Is Your Smartphone Stressing You Out?
Earlier this year, a new study was published by The Physiological Society which revealed, shockingly, that we find losing our smartphones almost as stressful as the threat of terrorism. As we spend so much time using or near our phones; they’ve replaced phone books, encyclopedias, and often cameras, and they sleep by our sides at night, just like our chosen partners do, it’s not surprising that losing them proves extremely inconvenient. Almost our entire lives are condensed into small, rectangular screens, but should the thought of losing them really be that stress-inducing?
Stress and smartphones
And it’s not just the thought of losing our portals to the online world that stresses us out. There are other, perhaps less obvious ways, that smartphones can wreak havoc with our stress levels:
Your smartphone is disruptive
Got a deadline to meet? Work busier than ever? Coping with work stress is difficult at the best of times, and while smartphones are great tools for work communication, their constant notifications are hugely distracting when we’re trying to get a task done. Many believe that multi-tasking is almost a superpower, but research suggests that switching from task to task can weaken your brain’s anterior cingulate cortex. And, you’re actually much less productive!
Your smartphone prevents you from switching off
In the past, leaving the office in the evening symbolised a clear divide between work and leisure time. Now we take a lot of our work home with us. When those red circles pop up on our devices, indicating we have a new email, it’s very difficult to ignore them (our apps are designed to intrigue and addict us, by the way). Even if you give the message a quick skim, your mind remains engaged and alert. This ‘always-on’ culture is not just stressing us out, it’s burning us out by cutting into crucial relaxation time for mind and body. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs recognise the need to unplug and prioritise our wellbeing. Arianna Huffington is a great example of this.
How stress affects our health
Why does this matter? How does stress affect us? We know experiencing stress doesn’t feel good and is often linked to poor sleep and fatigue, but what else does it do to our bodies? In a stressful situation, the brain’s hypothalamus kicks in and tells your adrenal glands to releases stress hormones (including cortisone) that trigger the ‘flight or flight’ response. Your heart rate and breath quickens, while your muscles prepare to protect you. Experiencing and firing this ‘stress response’ on a frequent basis is damaging to our overall health. For example, chronic stress which causes our hearts to work overtime, can raise blood pressure and put us at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
You might already know all this. You might be able to recognise when your smartphone is adding to your stress levels, but chances are, you’re doing little about it! In recent research by The American Psychological Association into how technology affects stress, 65% of respondents said that they somewhat or strongly agree that unplugging is important for their health, but just 28% actually unplug regularly. They also found that those who checked their devices more frequently had higher stress levels, too.
It’s time to put our health first. Digital detox is a great way to cut your tech time and stress levels, especially when put it into practice through exercise or mindful activities, such as yoga. Managing your screen time will also help you get a better night’s rest, preparing you fully for the coming day and allowing you to make well-informed decisions. Discover how digital detox can help you de-stress and put your smartphone back in its place.