‘A study in the journal Child Development shows night-time usage of a cell phone can increase anxiety and depression in teenagers and reduce self-esteem. This is the first study that shows a direct link between screen time and mental health.’
It is not only teenagers who are affected by the use of mobile phones. If we are being honest, most of us are addicted to our devices. And it is not just to keep up with the news or stay connected via social networks. We use our phones for work too and feel we are never able to completely switch off because we are always contactable. It is important for all of us to really take a good hard look at ourselves and be truthful about our mobile phone usage – and then do something about it!
In light of the trending documentary The Social Dilemma, which explores the dangerous human impact of social networking and exposes how we are being manipulated by the very platforms we engage with every day, we thought it timely to share some tips on reducing your phone usage to improve your mental health.
Here are some things you can do right now to get started.
Limit your time on your phone
This is a tough one but you can start by avoiding checking email, messages, apps etc. until you get to work (or at another designated time). It is also highly recommended that you avoid checking your phone before bed (see additional tips below). Some people take this a step further and switch their phone to Aeroplane Mode or Do Not Disturb when driving (this is a smart move!) or at other times when they don’t want to be distracted. Be honest with yourself about your phone usage and set limits that are workable for you.
Turn off all notifications
This might seem a bit scary at first but it can be incredibly liberating. You don’t realise how many of these little interruptions you actually receive every single day and which cause you to unnecessarily glance at or pick up your phone. Remember, you can always check in with your various apps whenever you need or want to. Give it a try and watch your anxiety levels drop.
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Activate ‘Do Not Disturb’
This is a great smartphone option which allows you to switch off all incoming calls, messages and notifications during a set window of time that you nominate. Try setting it from 9 pm until 7 am and give yourself a chance to wind down before bed and wake up calmly.
Switch to ‘Aeroplane Mode’
In addition to ‘Do Not Disturb’, active Aeroplane Mode overnight while you sleep. This will help to reduce your exposure to electromagnetic fields and the damaging effects they have on the body (especially in terms of sleep and mental health).
Turn your phone OFF
There is always the option of switching your phone off completely to ensure you get the screen-free time you need, when you need it. Often we hear the excuse that people need their phone for their alarm in the morning. There are other options available for this sole purpose which are better for you and will help you in your efforts to reduce screen time. It is about choices and how seriously you want this.
We have only focused on mobile phone usage here as our phone is the most utilised screen we have but you should also consider the time you spend in front of the TV, laptop/computer and other devices. This all counts as screen time.
Everyone is different and has different needs. Be aware of what you need and find the strategy that works for YOU.
If you would like to improve your health, start some good habits and get a better, uninterrupted sleep, chat to one of our naturopaths for guidance and support. Bookings available here. We’d love to help you.
Written by Denise Berry BHSc