The next time you are anywhere where other people are, have a look around. Regardless of the situation or event, how many of the people you can see around you are holding their phones?
Some may be taking photos, ‘selfies’ perhaps. Others will be updating their Facebook status. Posting an Instagram photo, scrolling through a twitter feed, texting their Whats-app group, Snap-chatting their friends. A few may be surfing the internet to find out some information,. Others checking emails, some making important phone calls.
The point is, our phones connect us all now in so many different ways. A fantastic technological advancement of course, but how about for our social wellbeing? Is this an advancement or a detriment?
The online world being at our fingertips and constant flow of information has created FOMO (fear of missing out).
There is pressure to update you contacts on a regular basis on your exciting holidays, tasty food, and the fun you are having with friends.
Likewise, when you are not experiencing any of these things, you see a constant stream on information advising you on what everyone else is doing.
If you are feeling low, or perhaps had a bad day, this can most definitely add to your woes.
A recent study has found a direct link between mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in young adults.
This is no surprise. Let me tell you my story of how I realised I was spiralling into a dark hole of FOMO.
My name is Hayley and I work here at Mark Bowden Hypnotherapy.
To say I was addicted to the apps on my phone is probably accurate, however, I would never have told you so.
I didn’t believe that I was addicted to the continuous switching between social media apps, scrolling through feeds and constantly comparing my life to others, but yet I couldn’t stop doing it.
On waking up in the morning I’d start scrolling through Facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter.
I’d get out of bed and go downstairs to eat my breakfast. I’d put the TV on and without actually watching it I would continue scrolling through my apps.
Whether at work, or out for a run or for coffee with my friends, I’d always be conscious of the flashing of my screen for notifications.
Scrolling, aimlessness, reading pointless information, looking at images and clicking through to sites that didn’t interest me.
There was a time when I realised I may have been addicted. I was out for a run and was using my phone as my music player. About half way round the run my phone flashed. I had an Instagram notification. There I stopped, dead in my tracks and opened up the app. Saw the notification and then continued to scroll. Scroll, scroll and more scrolling. I stood there for near on ten minutes scrolling through the app. I was now late, had to get home and showered and didn’t make it to work on time.
The most poignant moment for me, on realising that I was being affected by my scrolling actions, was two weeks ago.
Having had such a fantastic day. I’d be so productive at work, enjoyed a lovely evening out with some friends, got home to my loving partner who had prepared a meal for us both. Then whilst I was waiting for it to be served I grabbed my phone. I scrolled and in doing so saw a post that instantly filed me with anxious thoughts. The content of the post itself is irrelevant, however the feelings it brought about in me were so strong that I knew I needed to do something for my own sanity.
It was then and there that I deleted all my Social apps. Not the accounts, you see, just the apps.
What I am not saying that social media doesn’t play its part in our lives, but the constant access to it was what I was having the problem with.
I made a promise to myself that I would delete the apps for a week and re assess how I was feeling.
The first day felt strange. I would have my phone in my hand and unlock the screen, look at it for a while with no apps to open and then put my phone down again. The habit of grabbing my phone was still instilled in me, this would of course take time.
That afternoon I went out for a bike ride with my partner and left my phone at home. I didn’t feel the need to stop half way round to take a selfie of us and post to my social sites. We enjoyed the bike ride in the sunshine. The beautiful scenery, the laughter we had when he almost fell off, the buzz of the workout. These feelings were all still there and no one else needed to know.
The next morning I woke up and sat downstairs eating my breakfast with a book I’d wanted to read for a long time. Professor Brian Cox, Human Universe. In the first chapter I read, I learnt so much! I felt invigorated!
Going into work, I used the new things I had learned that morning to build interesting conversations. I felt intelligent, the first time in a long while.
I usually felt insignificant, like what I had achieved wasn’t good enough because my friends and contacts all had been having these amazing experiences that I had seen online.
I spent each day listening to Mark Bowden’s ‘Believe in Yourself’ hypnosis audio recording.
Taking just 30 minutes and make time for myself to let the positive suggestions into my subconscious.
Do you know what? I found I had much more time in my day available for myself when not spending time on my phone.
I used to always tell myself that I was too busy. Too busy to read a book, too busy to practise yoga, too busy to take some time for myself. Yet here I was with no extra hours in the day, just one big distraction put to bed.
Speaking of bed, I was sleeping so much better. My mind wasn’t being stimulated by FOMO just before bed. I wasn’t watching unnecessary videos on my Facebook feed and then drifting off to sleep. Instead I was actually tired and ready to sleep when I crawled into bed, and for the first time in so many months, I was sleeping right through the night. Coincidence?
When I found myself feeling bored, I called my friends or my family, and actually arranged to meet them. In person. I wasn’t ‘catching up’ with them via messenger.
What happened at the end of the week? Have I re downloaded the apps and fallen back into the old routine?
Actually, no. However, I do realise the importance of our digital world and understand that I can’t run from it forever.
This means however, that I am now more aware of what I am doing and think again each time I look to open the apps.
Using the social sites for work purposes during the day and allow myself to log onto them once in the evening if I feel the need to.
I feel less anxious, less stressed, more excited about things happening in my day, somewhat smarter too, thanks to Professor Brian Cox and I now believe in myself, much more than I ever have, thanks to Mark Bowden Hypnotherapy.