How Cell Phone Addiction Affects Your Mind and BodyNov 23, 2022
According to BBC, people spend roughly 4.8 hours of the day glued to their mobile devices - with no signs of slowing down!
Cell phones are one of the most incredible technological advances of our time. In an instant, you can have answers to your questions, find your way home, or facetime with loved ones across the world.
Now, what about the dark side? Medical professionals are more concerned that this excessive usage can lead to various health risks.
Could this be the next epidemic? Let's dive in! Today we'll uncover the hidden dangers of cell phone addiction and our best practices to protect your long-term health.
Has Your Phone Taken Over Your Life?
Have you ever caught yourself within seconds of waking up in the morning already scrolling on social media?
Or what about distracting you from work, between sets at the gym, or even driving (yikes!)?
Seriously. Everyone is looking at their phones and not the roads! Anyway…
The average screen time of people in the United States is 7 hours and 4 minutes daily (source). Most of that time consists of watching tv, gaming, and you guessed it, social media.
That means less time in nature and outdoor activities and less connection with your friends and family.
You know, the things that recharge us as humans.
What's Keeping Us Hooked On Our Phones?
There's something responsible in the brain that constantly makes us want to check back to find something new or get lost in a mindless scroll on social media:
The neuromodulator dopamine (source).
You’ve definitely heard of dopamine before, so we won’t bore you with a huge science lesson.
Dopamine is the chemical in your brain responsible for how you feel, your motivation, your level of desire, and even your drive to push through difficult tasks.
In short, it helps regulate the "reward" system within the brain.
Now, here's where it gets interesting. The problem isn't simply the distracted nature most seem to live in, as they constantly engage with their phone.
The problem is that the smartphone is one of the biggest dealers of "cheap" dopamine, primarily because mindless scrolling on social media isn't benefiting you.
In other words, it lowers the baseline dopamine levels in the brain (after the release from using your phone goes away), making us return for more to try and create the same feeling.
That's when the addiction really kicks in.
It's no surprise that depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation are rising today!
Other Associated Health Risks
Aside from being addicted to checking our phones, we also can run into many other health issues with frequent use.
Like feeling your leg vibrate, but your phone is nowhere to be found. Has this ever happened to you!?
Here’s one of the main issues we wanted to bring your attention to - using mobile phones and exposing ourselves to artificial blue light before bedtime can cause:
- Irregular sleep-wake cycle
- Increased fatigue during the day
You can also run into issues from blue light, such as dry eyes, eye strain, blurred vision, and cataracts (source).
We suggest closing the devices at least 60 minutes before bed, dimming the lights, and doing some reading or stretching to set yourself up for a great night's sleep (source). Another pro tip is to use blue-light-blocking glasses in the evening and during the day if you spend most of your day behind a screen working.
Recent research has also linked excessive phone use to neck and shoulder pain, which is no surprise since everyone nowadays looks like a walking banana! Keep an eye on your shoulder and neck posture when using your phone (source).
Lastly, we can't escape the fact that our devices also give off EMFs (Electromagnetic Field Radiation). These EMFs disrupt the chemical structure of tissues and alter the electric current in the body, which can lead to the following (source):
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of concentration
- Memory impairment
We know. That may sound a little woo-woo. But better safe than sorry!
How Do You Break Free Of Cell Phone Addiction?
We're certainly not asking you to give up your phone completely. Well, if you want to go completely off the grid, grow a long beard and live off the land, all the power to you!
But there are ways to use it strategically where it doesn't impair your health and ruin your baseline dopamine levels.
1) Ruthlessly cut off unwanted notifications. The easiest way is to put your phone on “do not disturb” when you're working or spending time with friends and family. You can also do a quick audit of apps that send out meaningless notifications that end up pulling you back into your phone.
2) Lock yourself out of apps or distracting sites. Harsh but effective. Many apps like Freedom keep you out of apps for the set time frame you allow. These are great for building back your self-control from your phone.
3) Don't keep your phone in the bedroom. If you use it as an alarm, plug it in on the other side of the room. That way, as soon as you wake up, you can take a moment to yourself before entering the world or getting triggered by something on your phone. Talk about a peaceful morning!
4) Put the phone aside during meals. Take a few deep breaths through the nose to help relax your body. You'll be more in tune with your body's cues to know when you're full and satisfied without the distraction of your phone.
5) Plan time away from all technology. At least one day a week, block out some time to get back out in nature away from your devices. This works wonders for your mental health and recovery. At team Organic Muscle one of our favorite things to do is go hiking in the different trails here in Austin, Texas!
6) Focus on one thing at a time. If you want to keep your motivation, enjoyment, and drive for a particular activity high, then be careful not to layer many dopamine sources into one. For example, if you're listening to music, a podcast, texting, and scrolling social media in between sets during a workout, this may lower the joy you get from the workout over time. And no one here wants that.
It's becoming more apparent that spending prolonged time on your cell phone will disrupt your physical and mental health. And here at Organic Muscle, we want the best for you!
Set a few boundaries with your phone and give some of these habits a try. You'll be right on your way to getting the most out of this great technology without detriment to your overall health and setting an excellent example for those closest to you!
Most of us here at Organic Muscle grew up before cell phones were mainstream. We’d spend all day outside running around…ahh, the good ole days!