Can remember a time without your phone or without the internet?
Or maybe a time when you weren’t glued to your phone?
You may remember making eye contact with people on the train or bus or giving your family and friends 100% of your attention?
If we go back a bit further, depending on your age, you may remember a time in which agreeing to meet someone at 10am meant meeting them at 10am, not texting to say you’ll be late or changing the destination last minute.
We had to be punctual and stick to the plans and only having a landline available to make calls. If we fast forward to right now in 2019, smartphones and social networks have changed our lives beyond recognition.
Children and young people are now growing up entirely in the digital age and can prioritize communicating through smartphones over real-life interactions.
97% percent of college students are distracted by phones in class, with 66% of younger students frequently losing their chain of thought when stopping to send a text.
Teenagers spend around 9 hours a day staring at the screen and worse still, is the worrying fact that social media can lead to anxiety, depression and poor sleep.
Technology has invaded our lives to the point where it has become the last think we see at night and the first thing we reach for in the morning.
Technology is not a bad thing at all, it is very sophisticated and without it we would find life harder than necessary and there are enormous benefits from having the all the advancements of technology but it does have another side to it, contributing to the amount of mental health conditions, such as Anxiety, Depression and Mental health .
Just the thought of switching devises off and being without technology, even for a short period of time can induce anxiety but it is all about balance.
Sleep and devices:
- Turn off all devices! 71% of us keep our mobile phones switched on in our bedroom at night, increasing the risk that our sleep will be disturbed. Blue light from devices can affect your sleep. Blue wavelengths are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood, but they can be disruptive at night.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland in the brain. During the day the pineal is inactive. When the sun goes down and darkness occurs, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce melatonin, which is released into the blood circulatory system. Usually, this occurs around 9 pm. As a result, melatonin levels in the blood rise sharply and you begin to feel less alert. Sleep becomes much more inviting. Melatonin levels in the blood stay elevated for about 12 hours, all through the night, and before the light of a new day when they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9am. Daytime levels of melatonin are barely detectable.
Negativity with social media:
Social media and our devices are now our once old fashioned address books that we used to write friends and families contact details in. With the world being far more sophisticated, all these details are at the touch of a button but unfortunately there can be a spread of negativity and by opening our lives to social media, we are open to reading and seeing criticism, aggression and negativity, which in turn triggers the fight/flight response in our brains building anxiety, lowering our mood and lowering our confidence.
We have the power to choose our settings, our friends and our preferences but very often we don’t take the control.
Instant messaging allows us to reach anyone in the world we might want to contact. Yet the same technologies have put ringing, flashing, vibrating bells in our homes, at our workstations, in our pockets. Most of us even take them to bed. This can cause anxiety in itself but messages can be misinterpreted and the worry of why someone hasn’t instantly responded you your message (and you know they have seen it) will have an instant effect on your stress levels. When you read a text message, you are reading from your own feelings and emotions at that time. Communication is 70% unspoken and you are unable to see and read the body language or hear the tone of voice is it any wonder that the subtle gets lost and misunderstood in a simple bit of text.
Do you ever switch off your device? Do you have the fear you might miss something? Research shows that the average time an email is answered is 2 minutes and messaging is even quicker. We give instant access to anyone who demands it and we worry if we can’t reply instantly or they can’t. Is that sound rational? In reality, what would the impact of switch devices off for short periods be in your life?
How to reduce the Anxiety around devises
The key word is slowly! Mental health and wellbeing will improve by taking slow gradual steps to reduce the amount of invasion technology has on your life. Opportunities to start with could be:
Bedtime boundaries – do not take technology to bed with you. If you need an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock. Switch off your device because subconsciously you will know nothing is coming in and you will be less tempted to look.
Evening boundaries – stop answering work emails/messages after a set time in the evening. Stop using computer technology altogether at least two hours before bed to avoid affecting melatonin levels and disrupting a good night’s sleep.
Leave your devices at home– go for a walk or have some exercise and burn of the adrenalin created from being constantly online. If may feel uncomfortable to start with, you may even feel vulnerable without something to connect you to the world but keep going and it will feel liberating.
Meal times-Put devices away at mealtimes and spend time connecting with the people that are with you face to face. Use the time to catch up and have real conversations.
To keep us happy, calm, balanced and coping with everyday life we need to follow these three simple rules from our ancestors:
Take Positive Action
By following these rules we produce the chemical neurotransmitter in the brain serotonin and this promotes mentally healthy behaviour. Use the technology to arrange the things that keep you enjoy such as exercise, hobbies, interaction, talking and doing the things you love instead of using them as a surrogate for real life and you will lower your anxiety levels and reduce depression.