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Reining In Your Smartphone-Induced Anxiety

May 03, 2019

Reining In Your Smartphone-Induced Anxiety

How much time do you spend staring at your phone each day? More and more studies reveal the detrimental effects of smartphone usage on the human brain. In a recent article published by The New York Times, author Catherine Price takes a look at how extended use of a smartphone impacts the brain on a chemical level. 

Studies reveal that smartphone usage results in an increase in cortisol, the body’s primary fight-or-flight hormone. With the average American spending four hours on their smartphone each day, these cortisol spikes are becoming more and more frequent. Researchers have found that even just having your phone nearby, or imagining that you hear a notification, can lead to a stress response. Smartphone users feel “a constant sense of obligation, generating unintended personal stress.” 

The detrimental effects of cortisol increases stemming from smartphone usage include: 

  • -Increased anxiety, presenting physiologically as elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar (reactions that are helpful in the event of a physical threat, but not in every-day life)
  • -Increased risk of major health problems, including depression, obesity, dementia, and more
  • -Exacerbation of existing chronic diseases
  • -A negative impact on the prefrontal cortex—the decision-making center of the brain—leading to decreased self-control
  • -Insufficient sleep, and the health conditions to which it contributes 

So what can you do to counter and alleviate the damage of smartphone usage? The key is to break the cycle, to retrain our brains. Price offers the following tips: 

  1. Disable all unnecessary notifications
  2. Pay attention to which apps contribute to your anxiety, and consider hiding or deleting them
  3. Try to notice if particular apps impact you detrimentally on a physical level, and consider hiding or deleting them
  4. Take regular breaks from your smartphone—consider implementing a periodic “digital detox”
  5. Identify when you are feeling a craving for your phone, and learn not to give in to it immediately 

For more details, read the article in full at The New York Times