While no-one’s denying the convenience of a smartphone, could it be your tech addiction is fuelling unwanted stress, anxiety and even weight gain? A recent study by the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine revealed the more time people spend on sites such as Facebook, the more likely they are to feel unhappy and lonely. Perhaps the survey has a point, so, how best to establish a healthy relationship with our smartphones?
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
It may not be easy to say goodbye to Instagram notifications, but it’s a must to take some much-needed time away from your phone. Try to disable any unnecessary alerts – even muting your phone when on the Tube or bus will end the impulse to check your device whenever it sounds.
TAKE SOME DOWN TIME
It’s all well and good keeping up with what friends are doing and constantly updating social media, but when is your off-time? As Psycle instructor Sophia says, “It’s so important that we disconnect occasionally and give our brains a break. Try putting your phone in another room when you come in from work and leave it there for the evening. Have dinner and connect with your lover or your housemate in real time. This will leave you feeling much more grounded. Also, try to avoid looking at your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night – this will help calm the nervous system.”
Recent studies suggest time spent in green spaces has the potential to have a long-lasting impact on mental wellbeing and could reduce your chances of conditions such as depression and anxiety. If your daily commute involves walking through your local park, make an effort to keep your phone in your pocket and be conscious of the world around you.
On a Similar Note
STAY SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY
While research has implied those who check social media most frequently are significantly more likely to develop depression, altering the way you use such apps may lessen negative effects. If going cold turkey on the likes of Instagram and Snapchat seems a tricky feat, be wary of how you interact in the social sphere. For example, rather than merely being an observer, leave positive comments on your friends or family member’s holiday photos or achievement posts, letting them know how you feel. Similarly, be mindful of comparison on social media, which can send you into an unhealthy negative spiral.
PRACTICE A ‘SCREEN CURFEW’
Championed by wellness and weight-loss guru Louise Parker – aka the Figure Magician – turning off all devices at least 90 minutes before bed is crucial to optimal sleep. This, in turn, will have a knock-on effect on everything from mood to concentration and even weight loss. As Parker explains, “Screen light stimulates your brain and prevents you from feeling sleepy. Try to practise a strict 90-minute screen curfew before bed, and if you use your phone as an alarm, put it away in a drawer. It must be out of sight. Plus, sleep helps weight loss by regulating the function of hormones that directly correlate to appetite and mood. It’s a win-win situation.”