Smartphone held in hand by person causing need for anxiety counseling from Empower Counseling

Is your phone causing anxiety?

According to the American Psychological Association, which studied stress in America, “Those who said they were constantly connected to the devices had significantly higher levels of stress than those who said they weren’t”.

So just how do our phones cause anxiety levels to go up?

1. Phones are designed to be habit forming. Ask yourself, Is your phone causing anxiety?

Yes, that is right. The companies who create our phones hire psychologists to design them in a way that makes them so enjoyable that we increase how much we use them. There are several ways our phones cause anxiety.

2. Phones and social media feed into our natural tendency to compare ourselves to others.

Except when it comes to social media, everyone is only putting their best foot forward. No one on social posts pictures of the lowest points in their lives or talks about their struggles. We only post the high points and the very best of ourselves. So when we view social media and read the content we are left feeling like the life we are leading is lesser than those enjoyed by others.

3. Texting leaves so much to our imaginations.

When you have a face to face conversation with someone it is easy to understand the words that person is telling you, but to also interpret the communication taking place through body language. The body language and the tone in which the words are said are even more important than the words themselves. When texting we only have the words and emojis. We are without so much context- no body language, no tone. This lack of information leads our brains to mind read-or guess what we think the other person texting us is thinking. This mind reading leads to anxiety and us staying in our heads rather than living in the present moment.

4. Phones and social media can be such a time suck.

Tik Tok can be especially addictive in nature. Have you ever said to yourself you were just going to watch a couple of videos and you look up and it is an hour later? When this happens and we actually have work to do, we become so anxious when we look up and notice how much time we wasted, mindlessly and unintentionally.

5. Notifications trick our minds into thinking we must make ourselves available to our phones at all times.

That ding of a notification is a signal to our brains that something is urgent and must be paid attention to immediately. In actuality it might simply be a comment on an instagram post. But if you  stop what you are doing every time you receive a notification, your productivity during the day goes way down. Then at the end of there day you are upset and anxious because you did not get the necessary work done.

How can we outsmart our smart phones and lower our anxiety levels?

Is your phone causing anxiety? Set clear boundaries for phone use.

Take back your power by determining when and how you will use your phone, then stick to your own rules.

2.  If you feel lesser than or you are self-critical after being on a social media channel, delete that channel or unfollow those that you compare yourself to and feel lesser than. 

3.  Have more face to face conversations. If you have friends and family who live in other parts of the country, at least FaceTime. Your brain will no longer have to spend so much time guessing exactly what others means in your conversations.

4. Be intentional with your time. Put your phone up when doing important work. Decide how long you are going to be on your phone at one time and what you are going to do on it. Then set a timer so you do not lose track of time.

5. Turn off notifications. Or at least decide which notifications are actually important. Maybe you leave on reminders for appointments and meetings and turn off Instagram notifications.

We can outsmart our smart phones. It takes in mindfulness and being intentional with our actions. 

If you are struggling with your relationship with and use of technology, Empower Counseling can help.

Empower Counseling is a counseling clinic serving Vestavia, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Hoover and surrounding areas with in-person counseling.

Empower Counseling also offers online counseling for individuals living anywhere in the state of Alabama.

Kathryn at Empower Counseling Specializes in Acceptance Commitment Therapy for anxiety, depression, and difficult life transitions. 

If you are tired of struggling alone, reach out to Empower for counseling. We offer in-person and online counseling for professionals, young adults, college students and teens. If you are in school at the University of Alabama or Auburn University, we off online counseling from the privacy of your home. Samford and Birmingham-Southern students can enjoy online or in-person counseling at times convenient to your class schedule. 

Call Empower today at 205-730-6570

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