Too much time on our phones can impact our mental health. Here, we investigate how to make our mobiles more MH friendly, and the steps might be simpler than you think...
In the past decade, mobile phones have taken the world by storm. According to Statista, it’s estimated that in 2019, five billion people on Earth will own cell phones. While innovation can be great, and there are many positives to having a phone, this increase in technology could have a negative impact.
Studies have shown that mobile phones can contribute to mental health problems, ranging from comparison traps and low self-esteem, to anxiety and depression.
It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to give up their phones, especially in this increasingly interconnected society, but there are ways we can lessen their potentially harmful impact on our collective mental health. Here are five of the best tips I’ve found to ensure that my mobile doesn’t take over my life, and remains a useful and positive tool instead:
1. Re-organise your apps
You know that old saying “a messy room is a messy mind”? The same theory can be applied to your phone. Having a cluttered home screen means you’re more likely to get lost in the mess.
App organisation can take different forms for different people. Personally, I utilise a three-folder system:
• Productivity (apps like weather, notes, and clock)
• Procrastination (social media and games)
• Extras (settings, app store, contacts, photos etc.)
By using this method, I’ve become more aware of how often I use my phone for procrastination rather than productivity. Try different folder methods until you find one that makes your screen time most worthwhile.
2. Reduce toxicity
While I love social media, and many people can find it a welcoming space to find a like-minded community, there are also some negatives with it. Social media can make it easy to fall into the trap of comparison around Instagram models and YouTube influencers. Reducing the toxicity around social media can help you be less vulnerable to these things, and a great way of looking at this comes from the organising consultant Marie Kondo. Ask yourself “does this spark joy?” when looking through your social media. Are you “hate-following” someone? Or following them because you feel you “have” to? If you answered yes to these questions, it’s most likely time to move on from that account. Your feed will feel refreshed and bring you positivity with a cull every now and then.
3. Engage in a way that supports mindfulness and mental health
Once you get rid of the negativity on your phone, there’s going to be lots of extra space to fill with positivity. Look up apps and social media accounts that support your journey to a more mindful lifestyle. One tool that I have found helpful is a messaging service through Facebook’s Messenger app called Shine Text. This sends daily advice for mindfulness and mental health, providing great reminders throughout the day. There are also hundreds of other apps that help with mindfulness and improve your relationship with your phone; apps like Calm and Headspace teach you how to meditate, and Optimism has mood tracking features to help those with anxiety and depression.
4. Schedule phone time into your day
Here’s the thing with mobiles, and you hear it all the time; they’re addictive – a technological drug. I can spend my entire day on schedule, but as soon as I look at my phone for five minutes, I lose it. Five minutes becomes 10, which becomes 20...
Instead of accidently derailing your daily plan, schedule phone time. If you like checking social media, or reading the news over breakfast, give yourself 20 minutes on your phone around that time, and stick to it. This allows you to get your social media fix, while not taking over your life.
5. Tune in with a purpose
If you’re on your phone a lot, you probably know how easy it is to spiral and be on your phone for far longer than you were planning. It’s like going shopping without a list; you walk into a shop needing eggs, milk, and butter, and walk out with snacks, socks, and a new pair of shoes. You end up with nothing that you originally intended to get. Just like shopping, if you go into being on your phone with a plan and do your best to stick to that plan, you end up having a more productive experience.
With a lot of negative media around mobile phones, it’s easy to view the issue in extremes. However, it is definitely possible to enjoy your phone without harming your mental health. I hope these tools help you find a balance in our cellular world.