A Simple Stress Reducer
Stress leaks into lives before we even realize the faucet’s running. In today’s age, a morning routine isn’t complete until you have checked your phone, but is that really the way you want to wake up? To a flood of messages, emails, reminders, and alarms? Instantly your mind has kicked into gear, preparing for everything that needs to be done today before you’ve even gotten out of bed.
This isn’t something we do intentionally; it’s just become habit. What started off as an assistive technology has evolved into a technology that is completely integrated into our lives. Our phone is our gateway to our work place, entertainment and social communities; but it’s also the entrance to fatigue, desire, and greed. It directs us from morning to evening, and even when we have no requirement, we find ourselves aimlessly scrolling on our phones – why? Because we are waiting for that dopamine dose.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, gives us that brief spike of pleasure we feel when we get a message or notification. Imagine that, our brain has essentially been rewired to feel happy every time we get a message. Now dopamine not only causes us to feel happy, but it also has pleasure-seeking properties, meaning it’s creating a loop; it’s causing you to seek out that activity that made you feel happy. So now, you’re constantly checking your phone, seeking out that message that released the initial burst of happiness. Doesn’t this sound like addiction? (Psychology Today has a great article explaining this in more detail).
We need to break the loop. But how can we counter this infiltration? You can start by changing your morning routine. Turn your phone off, put it on the other side of the room, or in another room altogether, before you go to bed. This way, you won’t be tempted to start scrolling as soon as you wake up. This also eliminates that pre-bed scroll. By keeping your phone out of reach at night, you are creating a healthy environment to get better sleep, wake up fresh, and stay focused throughout the day.
You might say that having your phone next to you doesn’t affect your sleep, but cell phones emit blue light – “a type that studies suggest can inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythms,” according to ABC News. They go on to say, “this may be because blue light emits wavelengths similar to daylight, which can make our bodies think it’s daytime, at any time.” (You can read the full article here). And what about those times you wake up in the middle of the night and decide to check your messages since you’re already up? I’ll admit it, I’ve done that.
With your phone out of reach, you can easily eliminate these issues. Not to mention, cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation which, according to the World Health Organization, can be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” therefore sleeping with your phone off, or away from you reduces your exposure. (You can read CBS News’s article detailing possible ways that we may be increasing your risk of cancer for more information.)
Better sleep will lead to fresher mornings, but how will this change keep us more focused throughout the day? Breaking the habit of checking your phone first thing in the morning will reduce your habit of constantly checking your phone throughout the day and focus on the task at hand. When you change one habit, it spreads throughout your choices. Your mind will remain calm in the morning before you’re flooded with messages. You’ll have a moment to digest your own thoughts before social media and advertisements feed you theirs.
Slowly, you’ll reduce your attachment to your phone. I can say from experience that it has worked for me. I make sure I don’t touch my phone until I have completed my morning routine, which includes making my bed, yoga, and ten minutes of meditation. I can honestly say I feel less stressed because of this small change; and it is definitely detaching me from my phone.