Your smartphone may seem like the perfect way to take a break from your worries and escape into another world, but it may be making you feel worse.
While social media apps and games can be entertaining, they may also increase your stress and anxiety levels.
Cell Phones and Mental Health
One big problem is that many of these apps and games are specifically designed to be addictive. They’re programmed to keep you glued to your screen, and they interrupt you with notifications all day long, making it hard to focus and rest.
These constant distractions may lower your self-control, leading you to unthinkingly check your phone instead of sticking to the task at hand. This can cause productivity problems at work or school.
And when your head is buried in your screen, you’re not spending quality time with your family, friends, and loved ones. You may also be missing out on sleep, healthy meals, and other opportunities to recharge yourself throughout the day.
Browsing social media and the news can also expose you to upsetting information that incites your fear and anger. The algorithms that fill your feeds are specifically designed to show you material that gets a strong reaction out of you, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.
All of these things can contribute to a vicious cycle of anxiety, stress, and depression. You’re feeling a bit down, so you instinctively reach for your phone to distract yourself. But it doesn’t make you feel better. Another notification pops up, and you mindlessly repeat the cycle.
What You Can Do About It
Liberating oneself from any process of addiction isn’t easy.
One possible intervention point is to establish healthier coping mechanisms.
The next time you feel tense and stressed out, instead of browsing your phone, go for a walk outside, take a relaxing bath, or practice simple mindfulness meditation.
If you’re feeling anxious about something you read online, ruminating and worrying isn’t going to help. Put your phone down. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Search for a way to reframe your assessment of the situation. Find a happier point of view than the one being pushed on you.
Focus on your loved ones, your spiritual practice, or any other source of social support.
In those silent moments when scary thoughts and feelings bubble up into your awareness, rather than evading them or trying to suppress them, acknowledge and address them.
Be curious about what’s happening in your mind and body without judging yourself for having these feelings or thoughts.
Make it a habit to check in with yourself regularly. How do you feel right now? Is your phone habit making things worse? What might be a healthier way of relieving my stress?
Asking yourself these questions can help you identify the changes that need to be made in your life to break the cycle of anxiety and depression and the unhealthy coping mechanisms that keep them going.