Ping. Buzz. Bleep. Ring. How many times a day does your smartphone alert you to a new notification or someone trying to contact you? Plenty, we’re willing to bet. In fact, according to research carried out by Telefonica, the average number of notifications we get each day is 63.5. But it isn’t just the lure of the little red dot that means we’re looking at our phones and tablets. We spend, on average, 3 hours and 15 minutes every day on our phones, checking them around 58 times a day.
Scrolling through Instagram, catching up on the news, replying to emails and shopping online might all just feel part of living in the 21st Century. But research shows that technology can be stressful. Being constantly connected to work, feeling the pressure to reply to emails, adds to our daily mental load.
As does seemingly innocent social media scrolling. We might feel negative feelings about ourselves because we don’t live the lives we see glamorously portrayed on our timelines. This can be damaging and have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Our tech devices can also disrupt our sleep, since they emit blue light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime even if it’s bedtime.
So if you think you could do with having a break from your digital devices, here’s five ideas that might help…
1. Turn off push notifications – that’s right, say goodbye to those tempting red dots and enticing lock screen notifications! Turn off as many as you can do without, but we especially recommend turning off any notifications to do with social media. That way, you won’t be intrigued by what notifications you have which may mean you tap the app fewer times.
2. Follow the right accounts – whilst we’re on the topic of social media, why follow accounts, people or brands that make you feel sad, stressed or angry? These emotions can be for many reasons – envy, different viewpoints, annoyance. But whatever your reason, unfollow any account that doesn’t serve you well. If this means unfollowing a friend or family member, you can hide their posts from your timeline if you’d rather not cause friction by deleting them completely. The more positive your feed, the less likely you are to feel negative when you do take a scroll.
3. Be realistic and set limits – we’re not suggesting you lock your phone away and go cold turkey. We all like to feel connected after all. But most phones allow you to set a daily time limit on how long you spend on each app. Also aim to put your phone on silent or airplane mode whilst eating (making you more mindful of your food, where it’s from and how much you’re eating), working out, reading or socialising.
4. Find something else to do instead – this could mean finding a new hobby or reigniting an old one. You could dedicate more time to exercise, taking walks or exploring your neighbourhood.
5. Be mindful – just like eating mindfully, doing anything more mindfully without distractions is beneficial to our mental health. Practicing mindfulness every day helps us to switch off and relax. But we don’t have to become serious meditators. Instead, we can make a warm drink with a teaspoon of medicinal honey such as Necta & Hive Jarrah 10+ honey in it, sit back, relax and drink it savouring each sip. With our phones on silent, of course!
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