Be smart with your smartphones

A smartphone thus can be a hugely productive tool.

The popularity of smartphones is not surprising. They are incredible little devices that allow us to stay connected, entertained, as well as organized. They have eliminated our need for alarm clocks, notepads, cameras, and address books. These mini computers can track our eating, exercising, and sleep patterns and goals. They maintain our shopping lists, travel details and spending habits.

A smartphone thus can be a hugely productive tool. But perks of a smartphone do come with a downside. Compulsive use of such a device can interfere with your daily life, work, and relationships. Do you spend more time on social media than you do interacting with real people? Do you find yourself not being able to stop from repeatedly checking texts emails, or news feeds? May be it is time to reassess your technology use.

You are addicted to it

Smartphone addiction is a very real phenomenon. It has been found that the average time a female college students spend on her cellphone is more than the time she spends with her friends. A survey found that three out of five smartphone users in the USA cannot go more than an hour without checking their phones.

According to experts, when our phones beep or ring, our brains get a hit of the chemicals linked to happiness – dopamine and serotonin. So you now know what makes us so eager to play with our phones instead of engaging in real life.

Nomophobia is the fear of being without your mobile device. It is now recognized as a serious issue. There are rehab facilities to help people deal with nomophobia.

Smartphone withdrawal can be long and painful and do come with complications, just like with other addictive substances.

Not having your phone with you when you want it can raise your blood pressure and lower your concentration. It can cause physical and mental symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

You put your neck and back under pressure

If you are constantly hunched over your phone, engrossed in your Facebook feed, you could be developing back problems. Thanks to smartphone use, the number of young people with back problems has risen dramatically over the last number of years.

Texting can add up to 50 pounds of pressure on a person’s spine, depending on the angle the person is using for texting. Looking down at your phone for a prolonged amount of time, even if in a continued stream of short bursts, has the same impact on your neck and back as it would if you would have fallen asleep with your head in an awkward position. You know what it is like to try to feel the stiffness and spasms when you try to uncurl your neck the next day.

A condition, aptly named text neck, is a form of repetitive strain injury. Here the muscles, ligaments, and tendons are inflamed and damaged due to repeatedly holding or moving a joint in a way that puts it under undue strain. This is becoming more and more common amongst the younger generation and is attributed to the use of smartphones.

Your nerves get damaged

Not only do smartphones affect your health on a day-to-day basis, but they also cause long term, incurable side effects. A neurological condition, occipital neuralgia, might occur where the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord up through the scalp become inflamed or compressed. It causes symptoms similar to that of a severe headache or migraine.

A new study has found that since smartphone users tap their touch screens thousands of times per day, this could adversely affect the nerves in their hands and arms. Heavy smartphone usage can have an unfavorable effect on the median nerve, which is the main nerve responsible for the muscle movements executed while using smartphones.

Heavy smartphone users could develop carpal tunnel syndrome in worst case scenarios, which is a sensation of numbness, weakness, tingling and general discomfort in the wrist and hand area.

Stress, anxiety and depression

You expect constant updates and interaction from friends, and tend to worry when you do not receive them. The time you spend staring at a screen can lead to anxiety and even depression. It also means you are missing out on cooking healthy meals, exercise, walking the dog, and real-life human interaction.

We are always available when we have a smartphone – to take messages, calls, notifications and emails. The need to immediately read and respond to each of these incoming alerts is causing rising stress levels.

It hampers your sleep

Most smartphone users fall asleep with a smartphone in their bed. When you should actually be relaxing, you might feel energized from interacting with others on your smartphone, or stressed out by something that you read on it. As you are trying to fall asleep, any ringing or beeping, vibrations, flashing lights from alerts, can jar you, or even wake you up in the middle of the night.

The reason for worrying is that bright exposure at night has more effect on sleep schedule than the amount of caffeine in a double espresso.

Smartphones emit blue light, a type of light interpreted by the brain as daylight. Thanks to its ability to suppress melatonin, the light exposure can actually push sleep time back twice as long as coffee does.

Be smart today : Here’s How

If the above signs sound familiar, get your smartphone use under control today. Temptation is always within easy reach, making an addiction hard to beat on your own. But it is not impossible in any way.

Start by keeping a log of when and how much you use your smartphone. Think about what other things you could be doing instead of being on your phone. As soon as you understand your smartphone use, it will become easier for you to curb your habit.

You need to recognize the triggers that make you reach for your phone. Set goals for when you can use it. Turn it off at certain times of the day. Do not bring it to bed. Remove social media apps from your phone. Most importantly, limit how many times you check your phone.

You are not missing out on anything when you are not using your smartphone. Accept that you cannot stay on top of everything all the time. The idea is to break your reliance on technology and claim a healthy lifestyle back for yourself.