To say this has been a rough year is a vast understatement. I find myself taking a step back and evaluating how I feel on an emotional level, and perhaps you are too. If you discover you’re in a bad place at times, it could be that you, like the average American, are spending approximately four hours per day on social media platforms, according to one study.
Like a slot machine, the design of the apps we use for social media are designed to make them habit forming as our brains release dopamine as we swipe and scroll through the snappy interface revealing a constant stream of new content and information. Swipe down to discover what’s new *so excited!* Check out the photos of the new boat your friend just purchased *so jealous!* See what wonderful trip your cousin is taking *happy!* Updates on what the politicians on the other side of the aisle are saying today *rage!* Look at all the terrible acts of violence and catastrophic events that seem to be happening everyday *fear!* Mix in all of our work emails, video conferences, and instant messages; it’s no wonder many of us have trouble concentrating, and are having issues with anxiety and sleep.
Does any of this sound like you? I know it does for me at times. Don’t worry; there is hope. We’ve compiled a few tips that can help you tame any size addiction to smartphones and social media.
Assess Your Usage
Honestly, look at how much time you spend on your phone. The iPhone has a feature called ScreenTime, where it will start tracking your usage and give you reports each week to let you know how you did. Android has a similar feature called Digital Wellbeing though there are other applications available.
If you have a small child, ask them to draw a picture of you. If they draw you with a cell phone in your hand, you might be on it an unhealthy amount. (That may not be based on real science.)
Clean Your Digital House
Uninstall apps that you feel are wasting your time. For me, Twitter is truly a waste of time. Every session I have on Twitter causes some level of anger or disappointment in a segment of humanity. For you, it might be something else. Maybe try it for a short time to see how it goes.
Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode
Pick a time at least 30 minutes before you go to bed to place your phone in airplane mode. Not only will you benefit from flooding your mind with thoughts before bed, the light emitted from your screen may reduce your production of melatonin. This hormone helps control your sleep-wake cycle. Decreased levels of melatonin make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Turn Off Notifications on Apps That Are Not Important Right Now
According to one study, the average person gets approximately 40 push notifications per day. I get a notification from Taco Bell almost every day at lunch. I don’t need that notification at lunch to think of tacos. What it does do is to make me look away from my work. No me gustan las notificaciones de Taco Bell!
If you’re anything like me, adopting these changes will not be easy, but the benefits are hard to refute: more restful sleep, less stress, improved concentration, better engagement with people around me, and I’ve learned to speak Mandarin with my extra time. Okay, that last part isn’t true. If you have any tips on this topic, let us know and we’ll update this article. Be well!