Is your smartphone making you stressed?

Is your smartphone making you stressed? | Blogging In Web 2.0 Beta
Is your smartphone making you stressed?

The iPhone 4S, the BlackBerry Bellagio, the Nokia Lumia… the temptation of smartphones is all around us. They have well-documented benefits for employees, meaning they can keep on top of emails in their own time, and have constant access to a wealth of information.
They also seem to benefit our social lives, meaning we can keep in touch with friends and family, and never need to miss out on that piece of gossip.

However, researchers at the University of Worcester in England have linked 24/7 smartphone access to a rise in stress. People feel that they must reply to messages instantly, and are constantly checking for updates on social networking sites. The result of this barrage of information is that people are becoming more stressed, as they are never able to switch off from technology. As well as reducing our ‘downtime’ when we’re supposed to be relaxing, technology eats into our sleeping hours as well – some people sleep with their phone next to them at night, and wake up when it beeps.

And we’re not even safe when we’re not receiving messages. Participants in the survey reported feeling anxiety and withdrawal when they did not receive any messages.Some people even reported experiencing “phantom vibrations”, thinking that they’d received a message when no such thing had happened.

The study author Richard Balding said: “So many people have smartphones now that the effect they are having on their lives and the amount of time they are spending on them is, to be honest, quite scary.”

So our smartphones have left us stressed and anxious. What can we do about it? If it’s pressures from work that are causing the problems, it can be the role of the company to try to limit it. For example, Volkswagen shuts off its BlackBerry email server at the end of the working day, so that employee’s work doesn’t follow them home. Few companies really expect their employees to respond to email in the middle of the night.

But sometimes, the problem is out of the hands of the employer and must be addressed by the individual. It’s worth setting some time aside away from your smartphone, and accepting that any alerts that arrive can wait. Put your phone on silent when you’re not expecting any urgent calls, and turn it off entirely at night. You could even try setting aside one ‘tech-free’ day a week, where you focus on other activities such as face-to-face socializing or sports – no phones allowed. As the report proved, you’ll feel much better for it.

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