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How to Develop a Better Relationship with Your Smartphone

by Emma Masters on Tuesday 7 May 2019

 

It’s time we talk about that elephant in the room… Nomophobia.

Yes, there is actually a name for mobile phone addiction. Do you have it?

Now, let’s get this straight. I love my mobile phone. So, when I talk stats, I know that I am a factor in the rising percentages of mobile phone addiction. I use my phone for: work, a personal photo album, keeping in touch with friends and family and organising my day’s schedule, amongst other tasks. This little device is with me more than any human or possession.

However, I do my best to keep my addiction under control. As an advocate of mindfulness and being as present as possible, I actively ensure I take “screen-free” time in my day. I am not saying it’s easy.

What do we know?

When you receive a text, get a ‘like’ on your latest Insta pic, or get an invite to the next Facebook event, a hit of dopamine is released in your brain - it makes you feel GOOD!

Drinking, smoking and gambling all do the same thing, releasing that same feel good hormone. It doesn’t take a huge calculation to realise - it’s ADDICTIVE. Dopamine-release helps us cope with external stresses, which creates a circle of addiction to these little handheld devices.

Just for a moment, think about your typical day.

Do you pull your phone out as you walk down the street, or at a stop sign?
Do you text someone at dinner when you’re there with someone else?
Do you feel a little anxious, when you’ve left your phone at home, or your battery has died?
Do you look at your phone before you say good morning to your partner?

I think we can all safely say yes to one of the above, and that’s OK! It’s good to be self-aware of these habits. However, these little dopamine-dropping devices are potentially stopping you from creating meaningful relationships that you would have pre- the days of Instagram and Facebook.

You are not alone - When Deloitte surveyed 4,150 British adults in 2017 about their mobile habits, 38% said they thought they were using their smartphone too much. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, that rose to more than half. Habits such as checking apps in the hour before we go to sleep (79% of us do this, according to the study) or within 15 minutes of waking up (55%) may be taking their toll on our mental health.

These little “pinging” or vibrating devices are also killing productivity. Where your minds once would have been clearly on one or two tasks at a time, now all it takes it a little nudge from your digital buddy to distract us. PING! – and your thoughts have gone to four different social media apps, tonight’s shopping list, tomorrow’s meeting or remembering to pick up the dry cleaning. Our minds are getting busier and busier.

With all this noise in your mind can come stress, anxiety and confusion. None of which are good for your wellness or mental health.

Technology has amazing uses. The way we have progressed in the world of tele-communication in the last few years is impressive and astounding. However, it is time to take control and find some balance.

There are so few moments in the day that we just allow stillness in the present moment.  With the rise of nomophobia, this isn’t going to get better. In fact, my prediction is it will get worse.

Let me give you some relief; there is no wrong or right way to “dial in” to our internal source, to find some stillness in the mind.  It is in that stillness that you can find peace away from the daily stress and anxiety; where you can get creative and productive and where you can actually listen in to how you are feeling.

Mindfulness or Meditation doesn’t need to be you uncomfortably sitting cross-legged trying to “get rid” of your thoughts. Meditation can be found through movement!  Smashing the boxing bag, sprinting on the treadmill, dancing to your favourite tune on the bike or lifting the weights.

Or it can be as simple as taking a walk in nature.

Could you start to take some action toward this balance, with small steps in the directions of your goals? So that you become more aware of your screen time, and create dedicated times in your day to put the mobile phone down?

Could you choose, as you put your bag in your locker before your workout, to also put your phone in there?You could dedicate the hour that you spend in your class or training with your PT purely being in THAT moment.

Could you DISCONNECT for a moment to RECONNECT to the activity at hand, your goals, and the human beings you are training alongside?

The reality is that technology isn’t going anywhere, but the decisions you create now will form the healthy habits required for a lifetime of great mental health. Let’s start today! Why not sign up for your next Virgin Active class, so you can put this less-phone policy into action?  


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