Nourishment Vitality is excited to share a series of guest blogs from our international intern Brian Baretz from Tulane University New Orleans USA. This week’s blog covers the ever-increasing important topic “Rethinking Stress: In the Eyes of a Student- part #2 PHONES CONTROL US”
What are some of the items you can’t live without? It varies a lot from person to person.
- Some may say a piece of jewelry that is sentimental to them
- Others may say their guitar that they have had for years
- Even some may claim it’s their favorite basketball jersey
However, a universally agreed upon object is your phone!!!
There are many attributes about your phone that make it so valuable and necessary. First off, it grants you communication accessibility to whoever you want, whenever you want, wherever in the world. This is a fantastic luxury to have. Connecting with others has never been so easy and convenient. However, there is another aspect that involves a deeper psychological attachment to it. One that includes the need to have it with you at all times, and the innate feeling that something is missing when you’re without it.
Humans have a need to dominate and create a sense of mastery around their surroundings. However, so often, what we create that allows us to feel this sense of control ends up being the very action that manipulates us.
An Outlier from the Rest
Our phones aren’t like every other appliance or device we use. We read our book when we feel it’s appropriate, and use our tennis racquet when we want to play tennis. We all use some variations of these tools to satisfy our own intrinsic needs, but our phones are different. Far too often we are unconscious of the fact that we are even using our phones or why we picked it up in the first place. We spend so much time on our phones that wasn’t for our intended use. All it takes is one vibration for our phones to have our full attention.
Our phones demand our attention and manipulate our brains into using them, when we don’t really need to. We get stuck scrolling or looking at information, from the high dopamine levels they give us while in use. We don’t want to put it down, so we keep finding more content to occupy us until we reach the point of overdoing it.
The Ultimate Attention Breaker
One of the most apparent and detrimental aspects of our phones is their inhibition of our productivity. The idea of “Deep Work” (reference link) coined by Cal Newport or flow, is the feeling of presence when you are fully concentrated on something, and feel deeply immersed in whatever you’re doing. This can come in many forms such as playing sports, writing music, or making a speech. This usually comes from the ability to get and stay focused on a singular task for a long period.
Our phones can easily prevent us from reaching this state, having the accessibility of a distraction at any moment. It also prevents us from feeling boredom at any given time, which can have an effect on our creativity. Our most creative ideas come when our minds are aimlessly wandering, and our attention is unbothered.
Social Media: A False Value System
What powers this addiction to our phones is social media. Social media has an inherently addicting nature from the way it’s formatted. It causes us to always be seeking more by conditioning our brains to quick, attention-shortening bursts of content. Some sites have practically infinite content, so the only indication of a stopping point is your own mental exhaustion or low battery life!
Many social media platforms have algorithms that are designed for comparisons and have a high probability to make us then feel stressed out or even inadequate. It may even cause us to then compare ourselves to others and to either feel empowered or highlight our insecurity. When we are left to derive our happiness from likes and attention, are we in essence allowing others to dictate what makes us happy?
Where’d All the Time Go? How This Affects Us
The convenience of our phones can have altering effects on our mental health and emotional health. Having this ability to avoid reality whenever it gets uncomfortable gives us a false crutch against some of life’s toughest challenges. This includes (what I referred to earlier) feeling the nakedness of boredom. Life is full of mundane situations like sitting in the classroom or doing the dishes.
Having the option to not have to confront these situations, prevents us from experiencing a key part of life. This also includes the ability to process difficult emotions like anger, anxiety, or even sadness. Consistently using our phones as a coping mechanism, doesn’t allow us to develop the mental resilience necessary to learn how to deal with painful emotions.
It’s important that we learn how to face uncomfortable situations and not depend on distractions to get us through them. Suffering & disappointment is a natural part of life. The more we do our best to avoid it, the more uncontrollable our emotions will feel during those times.
We may also start to experience a shift of perspective of caring more about capturing a moment, than actually enjoying it. It may fuel this need for us to concern ourselves more with our image and appearances, over our own genuine desires.
To allude back to my first article in this series, I am no expert in this field. I can only give accounts from my own experience and share the perspective I have gained by watching myself and everyone around me succumb to this widespread but seemingly taboo phenomenon. I have, however made some progress in this journey of learning how to have a healthy relationship with my phone.
Here’s what I got that worked for me
- Leaving your phone in another room helps erase the urge to use it
- Not having your phone around when engaging in tasks that are time-consuming or important. This will help prevent the easiest avenue for procrastination
- Think of the purpose of why you’re picking up your phone when you use it and notice how easily you get distracted. Becoming aware of your habits is the first step in making a positive change
Very importantly, understand the difference between active and passive phone use. Notice how often you find yourself subconsciously using your phone and do your best to challenge this.
Even though our phones play a pivotal role in the functioning of our society and provide us with many advantages, it’s important to be continuously aware and not let the alluring nature of our phones dictate how we spend too much of our time.
This ends the second part of my blog series, Rethinking Stress: In the Eyes of a Student-Part #2.
The blog is for college students, written by a college student, aimed to contemplate different areas of the college experience. This blog evaluates how different aspects of life can cause stress and is told from the first-hand perspective of someone who is experiencing everything himself.
For even more information on how to deal with topics such as stress and anxiety, holistic weight management, body image, and the importance of relationship stress and conflict, follow the link NourishmentVitality.com.
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Blog written by Nourishment Vitality Intern Brian Baretz (Tulane University)
With an emphasis on wellness education, Nourishment Vitality…
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LINK to blog #1 in the series “To Do List Monsters”
LINK to blog #3 in the series “Understanding our Purpose”