Q: Could I possibly be spending too much time on my phone? Why would I be doing this?
Sometimes we just need a break. Our phones are usually without exception right next to us. It’s easy and convenient to turn to our phones to create a mini-break from everything.
However, when mini-breaks turn into midi and maxi breaks they may not be helpful breaks anymore. If you notice that you are spending an increasing amount of time on your phone, disconnecting and numbing yourself, it’s a good idea to reflect on what is actually happening. What are you using the phone for?
I know for certain that my phone use increases and becomes mindless when I am exhausted. When I find myself sitting on the sofa, watching TV and using my phone, I know that I am burnt. It’s a good reminder for me to reflect on my work-life balance, tackle the tasks I have been procrastinating on, go to bed earlier and engage in restorative activities.
When your phone use becomes excessive and it’s bothering you, you may be numbing yourself emotionally. For some of us, our physiological arousal state reduces and we become emotionally numb or withdrawn when we experience a threat, overwhelming negative emotions or recall traumatic memories.
You may be turning to your phone for an escape when it all becomes too much. It’s ok to sometimes allow yourself to disconnect from the circus whirling around you. However, if you spend more time disconnecting than dealing with life’s stresses, you may be making things worse.
If you recognise that you don’t have significant traumas that explain your numbing, there is a lot that you can do on your own.
If you recognise that you are avoiding your difficult emotions or situations, be mindful that the emotions won’t go away by escaping them.
You’ll need to face the problem. Your relationships will suffer if you turn away from life around you. Your partner or children will struggle to reach you and eventually they will learn not to try in order to protect themselves from the pain of rejection.
Start by thinking of ways in which you can energize your body. Many people find that getting up and moving helps. Perhaps doing some household chores, going for a walk, or doing a short bodyweight exercise routine could help. Even just standing up on one leg can help you increase your physiological arousal state. Why would you want to increase your arousal level? Because when we are numbing out, zoning out, mindlessly reading or scrolling through our phone, or mindlessly having small talk on chat, our nervous system is going into a collapsed state and shutting down.
To come back from that, you need to energize your body and move then relax by being present in your body or with your loved ones. For example, reading a book, having a nice conversation, journaling, meditating are activities where you are not moving but your nervous system is relaxed.
Once your body is energized, use the energy to address the issue you are avoiding. It could be one specific thing, such as a DIY project that has gone on for far too long. You could be carrying the weight of a long list of little things that bothering you. Do you have to reassess your career path or reflect on how you manage money? You may be worried about your child’s speech development and not know what to do next.
You are trying to cope with strong emotions about real things. Your struggle is not imaginary. You are reacting to something stressful in a very human way. Unfortunately, your stress reaction is working against you addressing these issues.
Start by noticing the moments when you are spending too much on your phone. With kindness towards your stressed self put the phone away, energize yourself and tackle one task at a time.
If you’re looking for ways to reset and energize yourself, take a look at this post.