Is Your Phone Hurting You?
Do you find yourself reaching for your phone immediately after waking?
How does checking your phone in the morning impact your health?
Read on for tips to start your morning the right way to improve your energy and quality of life.
The Dangers of Smartphones
Our smartphones are some of the most complex and useful tools in our lives. Most people bring their phones with them everywhere. They are advanced calculators, cameras, alarm clocks, and resources for knowledge, but they also pose a threat in many ways.
A study from the NIH reveals “Mobile phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues close to the phone. Scientists have reported adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns.” This means it is a better idea to sleep with your phone somewhere away from your body. Try purchasing an alarm clock instead of using your clock app to reduce the temptation to check your phone first thing in the morning.
The American Medical Association also found a link between the use of digital media and symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in adolescents. Those who used social media more often were more likely to display symptoms of ADHD.
Besides the physical science behind damaging effects of phone use, there are multiple psychological challenges that mobile devices create as well. When you start your day staring at a screen, the first ideas that enter your brain are often to-do’s, what you missed from yesterday, and comparing yourself to others (especially through the use of social media). If you can begin your morning with a mindful moment instead of a stressful one, the rest of your day will seem more peaceful. Try to think of an intention for today instead of catching up on yesterday.
What Can You Do?
Connect with yourself instead of your phone in the morning. A great alternative to grabbing your device could be mindfulness meditation or journaling. When you reach for your phone, you are pulled into the lives of other people, places, and worlds. While this is an educating and connecting aspect of technology, it can potentially create more disconnect within yourself, and take you further away from nature. Integrative and Holistic medicine believes in the natural healing powers of your own body. Connecting back to yourself and to nature can increase healing. If you can naturally wake up and take some time to reflect on your own well being, then you are allowing your body and mind to rest and heal.
Often times your day consists of providing services to other people. You may work a long day helping others, go home and cook a meal for your family, catch up on household chores, or turn on the TV to try and decompress. We often forget to make time for self-care and bonding. In a hectic world it can be hard to find time for yourself, but even five minutes of mindful thought each morning can be the difference between a fulfilling day and a frenzied day.
Meditating or journaling is a great way to set positive intentions, realize your own goals and desires, and begin your day in a peaceful, rather than frazzled, state of mind. A specific form of journaling which has proven to be incredibly beneficial is gratitude writing.
A 2016 study compared three groups of participants, all of which received counseling services. One group solely utilized counseling services, the second group additionally wrote about their deepest thoughts and emotions, and the third group wrote one letter of gratitude a week to another person on top of their regular counseling services. The study revealed that those who wrote gratitude letters had significantly better mental health not only in four weeks, but also 12 weeks after the study was completed. Focusing on gratitude helps shift the mind away from harmful emotions and create a more optimistic outlook.
So put down the phone, pick up a journal, and be grateful for today!
PIM wants to hear from you! Do you have an experience with gratitude journals? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Wong, Y. Joel. “Does Gratitude Writing Improve the Mental Health of Psychotherapy Clients? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial.” Psychotherapy Research, Taylor and Francis Online, 3 May 2016, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=tpsr20.
Wong, Joel, and Joshua Brown. “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain.” Greater Good, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, 6 June 2017, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain.
Ra, Chaelin K. “Association of Digital Media Use With Subsequent Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adolescents.” JAMA, American Medical Association, 17 July 2018, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2687861.
Naeem, Z. (2018). Health risks associated with mobile phones use. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350886/ [Accessed 12 Dec. 2018].