Every new year, media tends to focus on weight loss and a healthier you — gyms offer up free membership trials and weight watching ads saturate our news feeds, all while mental health awareness takes a back seat. But as we've discovered after the first few days of 2018, it's become increasingly important to pay attention to our mental health as much as our physical health.
A key part of this conversation is the negative impact smartphones may be having on our mental health and anxiety. While our phones serve as alarm clocks, music players, and sources of endless scrolling, it's been found that stepping away to unplug for short periods of time can lead to more fulfilling, productive and healthier lives. With that considered, here are 3 reasons to put down your device and limit social media use this year.
1. Better Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important and easiest ways to keep healthy. The more sleep we get, the more we're able to achieve healthier physical goals in addition to social, academic and professional goals. But according to a study by National Sleep Foundation, 95% of adults admit to screen use an hour leading up to bed, which not only has been proven to hinder sleep but to also increase in anxiety.
95% of American adults admit to screen use an hour leading up to bed
Dr. Brynn Winegard, brain-science expert and York University professor agrees. She says that sleep is extremely important to cognitive function, especially for students. "It's when learning really happens,"she says of sleep. "It's when new ideas and experiences from our day can coalesce and intermingle."
Charging your phone away from your bed, or out of arm's reach, are both good ways to avoid the temptation of checking before (or while) you sleep. You might also want to consider picking up a book before bed, too.
2. Work-Life Balance
While taking a vacation or weekend getaway might seem like the perfect way to unplug, most of us don't. According to a study by the Department of Informatics at the University of California, 60% of people on vacation check their emails regularly and never really unplug from technology while away from the office or classroom. The study suggests setting up an auto-reply to let others know you'll be unavailable, in order to take that much-needed break your mind needs.
6 out of 10 of people on vacation check their emails regularly and never really unplug
Dr. Josie Alqhuist from Florida State University challenges her college students to take a break from social media every semester. She says that by simply giving yourself and others permission to unplug, your perception about the experience may be more mindful and open. "People don’t stop to think sometimes,” she says. “We have so many things that can just block us from focusing on us."
3. Single-Tasking Can Make You Happier
Focusing on just one task at a time will help you get into a flow state, and it's been found that flow strongly contributes to increased health and happiness. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has said that flow is the secret key to happiness, describing it as "a person engaged in a challenging task, working away, making progress, while being fully absorbed." In other words, little room for smartphone distractions are available during flow.
By making an effort to avoid multi-tasking in order to achieve flow on a regular basis, Csikszentmihalyi argues that we'll find more pleasure and lasting satisfaction in these activities. This year, use a tool like Flipd to boost your focus and attention, instead of succombing to multiple distractions.