Smartphone technology has undoubtedly changed the way we access the world of information that has become available at our fingertips.
From self-esteem to memory, attention span, creativity, productivity and more, smartphone technology is having a myriad of negative effects for those who overuse it.
Dopamine is the main brain chemical considered when discussing the biochemical effects of smartphones. But a new analysis of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, shows a staggering spike during times of smartphone use — even something that seems harmless, like receiving a notification, can alter the brain’s perception.
Scientists also argue that nighttime smartphone usage negatively alters the body’s natural 24-hour cortisol levels and can make it harder to get to sleep or make the body less resilient to stress.
Fortunately, all it takes is a bit of mindfulness to limit the negative effects of smartphone use. Here are some suggestions from The New York Times:
- Set your smartphone to give you only the notifications you actually want/need
- Take regular breaks when using the technology — or try a “24-hour “digital Sabbath” to lower stress levels
- Try to recognize the stress/anxiety that comes with craving smartphone use — these emotions often manifest as contractions in the chest
- Think about how each different app makes you feel as you use it — do you check apps solely for fun, or do some of them make you feel anxious?
- Hide the apps that make you feel anxious in a separate folder away from your phone’s home screen (or try deleting them altogether)
With a bit of practice, anybody can cut down on their smartphone use and rebalance cortisol and dopamine levels.
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