Smart Phone use increasing anxiety: Anxiety Specialists, Empower Counseling
Have you ever wondered whether how you interact with your phone could be contributing to your anxiety? Making it worse?
Technology is amazing. The fact that we can pull out a device that is only inches in length and width and look up the answer to any question we may have at any time is mind-blowing. Wow! We can shop, chat with others, use maps to find our way, access news, etc. But all of this information and interaction comes at a cost.
There is evidence that we are becoming overly dependent on our phones and possibly even addicted to them.
When was the last time you forgot your phone when you left home or accidentally left it somewhere? What was your reaction when you figured out you did not have your phone with you? Some experience significant stress and anxiety when away from their phone to the point of having withdrawal symptoms.
Some research has revealed that smartphones may be changing the way our brains are structured and the way they function.
Smartphones are contributing to the amount and the severity of anxiety many feel today. So what is it specifically about technology and smartphone use that is increasing anxiety?
Distraction: Anxiety Fuel
So many people come into our offices at Empower Counseling reporting distraction and an inability to focus. Most believe they must have undiagnosed ADHD. Often such clients are willing to spend hundreds of dollars to be tested for ADHD. Instead of skipping straight to a time-consuming and expensive evaluation, I ask clients to examine their relationship with technology.
A study in the United Kingdom showed smartphone users opened their phones an average of 85 times a day and spent an average of 5 hours on their phones daily. By switching back and forth between looking at our phones and other tasks, our brains are unable to consolidate items into our memory. Other research has shown a correlation between internet or smartphone use and poor memory, attention, and learning. It is a good idea to ask yourself, “What does my relationship with my phone look like?”.
Dysregulated Sleep: smartphone use increases anxiety
Raise your hand if you check your phone one more time before you go to bed. Raise your other hand if you lay in bed watching Tik Toks trying to go to sleep. Yep…many of us do!
Looking at your phone when you should be going to sleep overstimulates your brain making it difficult to wind down. You are also exposing your eyes to blue light. Research shows that blue light reduces melatonin production and interrupts your circadian rhythm. All of this to say, it is harder to go to sleep and stay asleep. Sleep is the foundation for strong mental and physical well-being. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep leads to a higher level of anxiety and stress. Even if you are not having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, your smartphone use before bed could be affecting the quality of your sleep. Are you feeling rested when you wake up in the morning?
Work/Life Balance: smartphone use increasing anxiety
I don’t like the term work/life balance because it is impossible to achieve a perfect balance between work and life. We can however focus on all 8 domains in life, intentionally schedule times of action in the domains that are important to us, and live very satisfying lives, not ignoring any one area because of too much work. When we know what domains are most important to us and what we value within those domains we can set boundaries around them and our time spent engaged in them.
But if you are struggling to create boundaries distinguishing work from the other domains of your life, your phone may be to blame, at least in part. If having your phone with you means you have to check your email as you receive notifications after work hours, not being able to completely unplug is contributing to your level of anxiety. Constant anxiety leads to burnout. Burnout can lead to depression.
Comparing Yourself to Others and Coming Up Short
It is natural for the human brain to point us toward comparing ourselves to others. It is not helpful most of the time, but our brains still nudge us in that direction. But we never seem to compare ourselves to anyone we think is having a hard time in life, or not going on fabulous vacations, or not eating fabulous meals. Instead, when we look at social media, we get a false impression that everyone else is living a more exciting, perfect life than we are. It is easy then to feel like we are falling short or “not enough”, decreasing self-esteem and self-confidence and increasing anxiety.
Smartphones are amazing and can be incredibly helpful. It all depends on how we use them.
Consider ACT Treatment for Anxiety Near Birmingham, AL, and Beyond
Here at Empower Counseling, our knowledgeable and compassionate therapists, Kathryn, Adam, and Kristine, all practice a special form of therapy called Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Within this type of cognitive-behavioral therapy, we assess your entire self. We look at thoughts you are having that might be causing negative emotions. We examine all of your behaviors, including but not limited to, sleep and the use of smart devices. The mind and body are interwoven and cannot be separated.
If you are a teen, college student, young adult, or professional struggling with anxiety, we offer Acceptance Commitment Therapy, a scientifically proven effective form of therapy for anxiety. ACT is also proven effective for depression counseling!
At our Birmingham area counseling clinic, it is simple to get started with your new therapist! If you need counseling for teens, counseling for college students, therapy for young adults, or counseling for professionals, just send us a message from the home page of the website. We will reach back out to you as quickly as possible on the same day!
If you are struggling with a difficult transition in life, like graduating from college, going through a divorce, or thinking about changing careers, we can help. And if you are suffering from addiction, reach out to our certified addiction specialist, Adam Elliott for addiction counseling.
Contact Empower today and start down the path of feeling better!