8 Top Tips To Reduce Mobile Device Related Stress

Do you feel addicted to your mobile devices? Do you constantly find yourself checking for notifications, endlessly scrolling through social media, or playing games? If so, you are not alone. According to Common Sense Media, 46% of parents in the UK feel addicted to their mobile devices and 63% believe their teens are addicted. This device addiction is causing a modern stress epidemic and nomophobia is on the rise. Nomophobia means ‘no mobile phone phobia’ a fear of not having your phone with you and it is becoming increasingly prevalent in our lives. As April is stress awareness month, we look at ways to manage mobile device related stress.

1. Create Screen Free Zones

When you are spending time with family and friends, put your phone away so that you can give them your full attention. It is important to be fully present in the moment and enjoy your time with the people you care about. Encourage the whole family to create ‘screen free’ zones where everyone agrees to put away their devices. For example, you might designate the dinner table as a ‘screen free’ zone. Another tip is to keep your phone out of reach when you are trying to focus on something important. If you are working on a project, put your phone in another room so you will be less tempted to check it and can focus on the task at hand.


2. Turn Off Notifications

It can be difficult to focus on work when notifications are constantly popping up on our device screens, interrupting our focus. For this reason, it is a good idea to turn off unnecessary notifications for a more productive day. If you are not sure which notifications to turn off, start by turning off social media feeds or non-essential updates. For further instructions on how to turn off notifications on iPhone or Android devices, click the links below.


How to turn off notifications on iPhone 

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/iphone/iph7c3d96bab/ios 

How to turn off notifications on Android

https://support.google.com/android/answer/9079661?hl=en-GB

3. Use Parental Controls

Screen time is the third most frequent source of conflict between parents and teens, with 78% of teenagers checking their mobile devices at least once every hour. As adults we also struggle to manage our device usage which makes it even more important for us to set a good example. Setting screen time limits is an effective way to manage time spent online and to monitor apps being used. When setting screen time limits for children and teens, start by talking to them about the mental health risks their online activities can cause and get them to agree upon acceptable times they can use their devices. Some platforms are designed to keep you watching or playing, be mindful of these and help your children or teens to understand when this is happening and to encourage them to self-regulate their device usage.

Set up screen time limits for iPhone

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/iphone/iphbfa595995/ios 

Set up Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls on Android

https://support.google.com/android/answer/9346420?hl=en-GB#zippy=%2Cfind-out-how-much-time-you-spend-in-apps 


4. Put Sleep First

According to a study by Kings College London, approximately 40% of university students are addicted to their mobile devices, having a negative effect on their sleeping habits. Our mobile devices emit a blue light which is part of the visible light spectrum and has been shown to suppress the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. When we are exposed to blue light before bed, it can make it harder for us to fall asleep. Even if your device is on silent, the bright light from your screen turning on can be enough to wake you up, so it is best to keep your phone out of the bedroom. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, put your phone away at least an hour before you go to bed and try reading a book instead. If you cannot keep your phone in another room, set a regular bedtime in the Clock App, or schedule ‘Do Not Disturb’ to allow for a much more peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. 

5. Organise Your Folders

Having a decluttered and organised phone will help you feel more in control and less stressed. You can do this by creating folders for different types of apps. For example, you can have a folder for social media apps, a folder for productivity apps and a folder for entertainment apps. Only keep the apps that you use often, or ones that bring you joy and delete any unnecessary ones. Another tip that can help you organise your phone is to use widgets. Widgets are a great way to quickly access the information that you need without having to open an app. For example, if you have a weather app, you can add a widget to your home screen so that you can see the current temperature and forecast at a glance.

6. Be Mindful of Social Media

Social media can be a huge cause of stress. We constantly compare our own lives to the perfect lives that we see on social media and this can lead to us feeling down and stressed. It is important to remember that people only share the best parts of their lives online and no one’s life is perfect. If you find yourself feeling stressed or down about your life after scrolling through social media, take a break from it. Another way to reduce social media stress is to be more selective about who you follow. If you are following people who constantly post negative or stressful content, it is going to make social media a lot less enjoyable for you. Try unfollowing some of those accounts and following ones that make you feel good.

7. Be Informed, Not Overwhelmed

Our phones are excellent sources of information and news apps keep us updated about world affairs however, they can also be stressful and cause anxiety. If you find yourself constantly reading the news and feeling anxious, take breaks to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It is easy to get bogged down in all the negative news out there, but it is important to remember that there is also a lot of good in the world. Seek out stories of hope and compassion to balance out the negativity.


8. Take Regular Breaks

Looking down at our mobile devices for extended periods of time can cause neck pain, tension headaches and even migraines. Try to take breaks from using your devices every 20 minutes or so, take a walk, stretch your neck and back, or just look up at the sky for a few minutes. Additionally, try to hold your phone at eye level when you use it and avoid looking down at it for extended periods of time. 

We hope this blog post has helped you to learn about some of the ways that you can reduce stress from your mobile devices. In conclusion, be more present and mindful of your device usage and when you feel that it is all getting a bit much, just switch it off, the world will still be there when you are ready to look again. 

If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, there are many organisations in the UK that are there to help such as Samaritans, Anxiety UK, and Mind. If you need someone to talk to about mobile device addiction, do not hesitate to reach out for help. 

A useful resource from CAMHS: TED Talks Video: Learning to look up again, controlling your smartphone addiction. https://www.ted.com/talks/ross_sleight_learning_to_look_up_again_controlling_your_smartphone_addiction  

Sources: Common Sense Media and Kings College London

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