How many times do you think you’ve checked it? A recent survey showed, on average, we check our phones 110 times a day. I looked into this because I caught myself checking social media and emails for 15 minutes before closing and putting the phone down…20 seconds later I picked it back up. For no reason – just picked it up and opened it.
It got me questioning – why? It’s because I’m addicted. Every time I get a notification, dopamine, a feel good hormone gets released in my brain. It makes me want to go back again and again.
When we do this regularly the pattern becomes etched in our neural pathways.
An article by Psychology Today described it well. “This behaviour — checking the screen — quickly becomes habit by nature of its routine. But when that habit turns from a want into a need — meaning we start to feel anxious or disconnected from the world around us if we don’t check the phone — then the action morphs from habit into reflex.”
As a Chiropractor, I’m trained to find areas within the nervous system that are disconnected. These areas prevent the brain and the body from communicating effectively, resulting in increased spinal and muscle tension and other health complaints. This disconnection happens when the nervous system gets stressed. The 3 main stressors on the system are physical, emotional and chemical.
Smartphone addiction has aspects of all three.
Physical – prolonged sitting while looking down is causing an increase in neck and shoulder pain. This increase is especially noticeable in kids.
Emotional – The social disconnection when using our phones is being linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Chemical – our levels of melatonin are affected when we use our phones at night and sleep becomes difficult. This leads to increases in stress hormones and the chemical balance of our body is changed.
It’s the perfect storm for your nervous system – and hence why as a Chiropractor I feel it’s important to address. So what can we do to break the habit?
Some of the things I’ll be trying in the next few weeks are
- Leaving my phone on the bench at night
- When with other people I’ll leave my phone in my bag.
- Setting aside times in the day to look at social media, but then getting back to being productive (or more productive than I was)
The internet is filled with ways to try and change the behaviour. I’ve seen these articles time and time again and never took any notice, but I think it’s time we all try and address the triggers in our day to day lives, for the good of our health and our relationships.
Below are some resources I found useful.