Is Your Phone Making You Anxious?
Phones are amazing inventions - they keep us connected with our families, give us any information at the touch of a button, help us sort our bills on the move, book a holiday from a train and do the shopping without getting out of your pjs. So why are so many people now telling us that their phone is making them feel anxious..?
How did we live before our phones?
They’re amazing aren’t they? Cheryl and I have occasionally accidentally left our phones at home and we felt like an arm had been chopped off. You don’t realise how many times you go ‘to just check’ something. How many times do you touch your phone but you don’t even really know what it is that you’re checking for? It’s like an involuntary spasm!
Yet this great resource, this beautiful piece of technology seems to be taking on a villainous role. They are stealing away our hours, preventing us from being truly present with our loved ones and how we are using them seems to be impacting our self-esteem, making us feel anxious and generally deteriorating our mood and making us feel bad about ourselves.
How many times (if you’re not on your phone) when you look around at the park, in the street, at a restaurant - do you see everyone heads down, engrossed in whatever it is they’re scrolling through? No attention to the gorgeous surroundings, the kids trying to get their attention, the lovely food being served to them. Just mindless scrolling, just in case the next post is life changing! We are spending hours browsing online, worried that you’re missing out on something, comparing ourselves to other people who look like they have it all going on. Hours that could be spent chatting to our hubby, playing with the kids, reading a book or just smelling the roses.
There must be a reason
This constant urge to be ‘checking’ started for me with the mobile phone for work. Now I actually am old enough to remember not having a mobile phone for work (yes, I’m that old) and when you got an email, you didn’t see it until you got to the office the next day so then you answered it. Once you got the mobile though, you had seen the email. So then I felt rude not answering it. I remember my boss saying years ago to me, “Donna, if you answer an email at 11pm at night, then you’re setting my expectation that you’re always going to answer when I ask you stuff at 11pm at night.” Gulp. So it wasn’t that he was wanting me to but I was clearly making a rod for my own back.
Then the game changed completely with the dawn of social media. Now me being the dinosaur that I am, avoided all these newfangled apps - Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat - I really had no idea what the fuss was all about. Then when Cheryl and I started our own business, I had to really get on board with these things.
It’s like a whole new world! Hours and hours flicking through, ‘just in case’ I’ve missed a post where I could help someone or share some wisdom with someone who needs it. I started driving myself nuts! They’re literally like worm-holes! FOMO as it’s now known as, Fear Of Missing Out is an actual thing. And something our clients and community tell us really impacts them. This need to always be ‘on’ just in the instance that you miss a vital opportunity, or message from someone.
And it’s sooo much harder to manage now. You don’t just check your emails. You check emails, Facebook for notifications, then Messenger, WhatsApp, Insta threads, Insta DM’s, LinkedIn posts, LinkedIn Inbox, Twitter notifications, Twitter messages...the list goes on! You’re stuck in a perpetual cycle of ‘checking’ and it’s literally a 24/7 job.
If you let it be.
And have you ever actually missed out on the perfect job or business opportunity at 11pm or 6am? I doubt it.
No wonder it’s making us anxious, stressed and feeling low energy.
A lot of the time, the stuff that we are looking at also has nothing to do with work - let’s be real about this now!
Me comparing my body to J’Lo’s (I mean, wow) has no positive impact on my coaching clients. Neither does asking myself why someone else has written three books and I haven’t written one yet. Or wondering how another gorgeous celebrity looks that good on a morning with three kids and I can’t get my hair out of a messy bun and I only have one…
Comparisonitis is rife on social media and we are doing it to ourselves.
So here’s the thing. This stuff isn’t going to change any day soon. It’s not going away. You have got to get yourself some rules of engagement, some boundaries.
Here are 10 powerful strategies for you so that you can get back in control of your phone and specifically your social media usage.
Switching off notifications
Not touching the phone before you get to your office
Setting strict hours with your work phone
Plan in times when you look at social feeds if it’s part of your job
Having a clear ‘switch off’ time at night.
Removing any apps, feeds or connections that feel toxic
Setting a number of hours as a limit
Family time priority hours
Putting the phone in another room or locking it away
Having one digital detox day per week
Right now, write down 3 commitments that you are going to make to change this really unhealthy, energy-sucking habit. Starting from today! Start making real changes and remind yourself of the benefits that this new behaviour will give to you, your family and you mental wellbeing.
Phones are great, social media is incredibly powerful - when used as a tool to help not hinder you. You control it, not the other way around. Get PRESENT and leave the anxiety behind!!!
Love and hugs,