After listening to a wonderful podcast this week on the subject of addiction and mental health; there was an interesting view highlighting mobile phones and whether we are addicted; it really got me thinking….

The stratospheric rise in mental ill health is well known, and I feel that technology plays a role – specifically mobile phones. I am not anti-technology, far from it, however we are now in a generation where we are constantly connected. But, are we less connected than ever?

So what is less connected?

How many conversations have you had this week with your best friend? Or in fact any of your friends outside of your work circle? Compare your answer to how many times have you liked one of your friend’s social media posts. That to me is less connected. Replacing conversations for likes.

Okay, I get we are potentially less connected, but how is mobile phone use connected to mental ill health?

I believe excessive mobile phone use can be detrimental to mental ill health for two reasons:

The content we are consuming. Imagine you are in work on a cold, wet Monday morning, you aren’t feeling great, the typical ‘Monday feeling.’ You pick up your phone and you see your friend’s Facebook post showing their feet around an infinity pool in Bali. How does that make you feel? Not great I bet. So, then you get a little niggle of negativity, “I wish that was me, I’m gutted I’m not there.” As we continue our week, scrolling our feeds, we constantly see this type of content and more incremental feelings of negativity creep in. Over time this constant barrage of mini increments of comparison and negativity can begin to be detrimental to the way you feel…..

Secondly because we seemingly always have a device in our hand, our eyes locked to the screen, our brain is always on the go, receiving stimulus and then firing neurotransmitters. Because of this constant stimulus, our brain never actually gets to rest, it never switches off. When we get in bed, supposedly preparing for sleep, it is commonplace for people to be on their phone. From here we start to see the impact on insufficient sleep, the next day we are unrested, grumpy, irritable, anxious… all from that late-night scroll that seemed to last 40 minutes.

Have you ever been in the queue for Starbucks, in fact anywhere, and people whip out their phone and start their scrolling?

Hopefully you can see the theme here? Mobile phone usage is addictive, in that we engage in a constant behaviour that we know can do us harm.

Here are some simple little hacks to help:

Try switching to airplane mode whilst you are in bed.

Go for a tech-free walk with the kids at the weekend or if you have no kids on your own.

Ban technology from the dinner table.

So, next time you are in the queue for your flat white… have a look around and notice what people are doing. Take time to be connected to the environment around you and not a screen!

(Credit to Fatherly.com for the image).

Sean Bailey

Sean Bailey

A happier, healthier you.