How many times a day do you pick up your phone to text, WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram your friends and family members? Be honest… We’re willing to bet it’s a lot (and probably more than you think). Many of us spend more hours than we care to think about being in constant contact with our loved ones, but what if we told you this could be doing you far more harm than good? Particularly for our mental health. Here’s why you should stop constantly texting your friends and family right away.
When something good or bad happens in your day, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like us, you’ll reach for your phone to tell someone. It could be your other half, your best friend, even your mom. When you’re having a rubbish day at work, you text someone and tell them. When your break up with a partner, you WhatsApp your bestie to tell them. Before we have even analyzed what’s happened in that situation, we’ve spoken to a loved one, and they’ve reassured us. We’re becoming dependant on having that constant reassurance at our fingertips, without spending time processing whatever news has just come our way. And then, what happens when that person doesn’t text back right away? We’ve become so dependant on their soothing words we find it hard to cope or analyze by ourselves.
Reliant on one coping skill
While reaching for our phones to text friends and family can be a useful source of emotional support, it shouldn’t be our only coping method. If we become dependant on having our loved ones tell us it’s all going to be okay, we’ll find it extremely difficult if or when they’re not there. It’s one of the reasons so many of us feel anxious when our battery starts getting low or we lose our phones. What will we do? How will we cope? What if something happens and we need to tell someone? As we become more reliant on our phones, we become more reliant on this one coping skill. While it is good to have people around you for support, you need to have other coping methods that will enable you to process and analyze news and events in your life – whether it be good or bad.
Learning to cope alone
Studies have shown that more and more people are becoming addicted to their phones, with heavy phone users actually experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression from constant smartphone use. Our brains have learned to associate notifications on our phone as some kind of reward, but when our phones go silent, it creates a sense of loneliness and sadness. With this in mind, it’s important to learn to cope on your own and not just turn to your phone when something happens. Try setting yourself a time limit between when something happens and when you text a friend or family member. Use that time to think, for yourself, what this event or news means to you. Build up that time gap from a few minutes to a few hours, and then perhaps even a few days.
By becoming less reliant on our phones and being able to text friends and family, we can help improve our own mental health and ability to process whatever life throws at us. This will help reduce anxiety (especially that dreaded low battery anxiety) and improve our general wellbeing. Try coming up with your own coping methods when faced with life events and rely less on the soothing words of others.