Your phone can provide you with information such as the weather, weekend plans, and the latest news. Therapists say it can also give you clues about how you’re feeling.
Specifically, certain phone habits may mean anxiety.
“When we’re anxious, our bodies go into a fight-or-flight response, and often because we’re so attached to our phones, that fight-or-flight response is one of the first places it shows up. “Said Tasha Baileya psychotherapist in London,Real Talk: Lessons from Therapy on Healing and Self-Love”
Here are some phone habits that could be signs of a deeper problem.
Doomscrolling (and excessive scrolling in general).
Most people are fairly familiar with the term doomscrolling. This refers to the constant scrolling and clicking to learn more and more about disturbing news and topics of interest. And, of course, this can be a sign that you’re feeling anxious. (Furthermore, it is cause From your anxiety. )
“in [doomscrolling]we’re trying to find some certainty, we’re trying to find answers, but by doing all that doomscrolling, we’re only making the anxiety worse.” carrie howarda licensed clinical social worker based in Texas. anxiety coach The company serves clients all over the world.
As you scroll and scroll, anxiety-inducing thoughts can flood your mind and make it difficult to think about anything else.
Besides doomscrolling, Howard said excessive scrolling through seemingly “good” content, such as hilarious posts or funny reels, could also be a sign of anxiety.
Many people use this as a distraction. By shifting your attention to your phone, you can avoid what’s going on in your life, such as a stressful work situation or a fight with a friend.
Search for thorny questions.
Similar to doom-scrolling, “doom-searching” is another way in which anxiety manifests in cell phone use.
According to Bailey, when we’re anxious, we often become hypervigilant and overthink things. “It may appear [in our] Google search. We may have millions of tabs open displaying everything we’re worried about,” Bailey added.
A search will tell you a lot about what you’re worried about. Are you looking for symptoms of illness, or when to heal after a big breakup?
“Google searches show us how anxious we are and the intrusive thoughts we have,” Bailey says. “We’re looking for some validation or answers or guidance.”
Using a mobile phone as a way to avoid certain situations.
“Some clients, especially if they have social anxiety, will pretend to be answering texts or phone calls to avoid actual social interaction,” Howard said.
For example, let’s say you’re at a coffee shop and a former coworker or high school acquaintance starts approaching you. Have you ever pretended to be on the phone to avoid social interaction? This is an example of using your phone as a distraction or avoidance strategy to deal with real-life stressors. Yes, she says.
Additionally, if you’re feeling stressed about a work project, using your smartphone as a procrastination tool can also be a red flag.
why? “You’re avoiding the stress and discomfort of having to face a project,” Howard said.
Not being able to put down my cell phone.
Inability to stay away from your phone while exercising, sleeping, or in a work meeting can be a sign of anxiety. emma mahoneytherapist at A Better Life Therapy in Philadelphia; Mental health content creators on TikTok.
Moreover, it can even mean codependency. “I think a lot of people are codependent when it comes to their phones, and it’s an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship,” Mahoney says.
“If our phones were people, we’d be attached to them all day long,” Bailey added. And when people are feeling anxious, they can become even more attached to their phones.
When you’re in this headspace, you may find your phone’s battery dies quickly, Bailey added. please think about it. Having his phone on him all the time and immediately replying to every email, call, and text message means his phone’s battery barely lasts the entire day.
Howard added that if you suffer from anxiety, you may be constantly checking your phone at inappropriate times, such as when you’re having lunch with your family or when you should be in bed.
“You just have this compulsive need to check your phone for notifications,” Howard said.
We will respond to notifications as soon as possible.
In the same realm of constantly checking your phone, Howard said some people tend to deal with notifications right away as a way to avoid anxiety.
“But the problem is that I end up always being on the line and have a really hard time setting proper boundaries with myself when it comes to using my phone,” she said.
Weak boundaries on the phone can cause even more anxiety. Expectations to respond immediately to texts or answer work calls can be overwhelming.
Avoiding phone calls.
But avoiding the phone can also be a sign of anxiety, according to Howard.
“We are losing our social skills in some ways, and when we lose confidence in our ability to interact with others, we tend to hide behind our phones or not want to have a conversation. , feel free to answer the phone,” Howard said.
I panic when my phone stops working.
Mahoney said it’s important to note how you feel when you don’t have Wi-Fi or your cell phone dies. She noted that feeling nervous or panicky can be a red flag.
(Mahoney said this excludes people who use cell phones for safety, such as people who rely on maps to get home late at night.)
“I know some people need to have their phones on hand for safety, but the simple withdrawal of not being able to text a friend or see what’s going on on Instagram , I feel like that’s a really important thing to consider as well.” Mahoney added.
You should be able to be alone for a while without texting or calling. Having to constantly be in touch with others can cause problems.
There’s no shame in finding yourself anxiously clinging to your phone.
Don’t shame yourself if you feel anxious about your phone.
“It’s not crazy…they’re inherently designed to stay attached,” Mahoney said. “And I…I feel like I can’t think of anything I spend more time on than my cell phone.”
If you feel like cell phone use is unhealthy or a sign of anxiety, give yourself some grace, she said.
While having grace with yourself, “you need to have an honest conversation about how you can step back a little bit and connect with yourself,” Mahoney said.
You can try mindfulness tricks to limit cell phone usage.
If you think your phone is making you anxious, you can create a physical barrier between yourself and your phone. In fact, this is a hack that Mahoney himself uses. Just wrap a hair tie around your phone.
“When you have a rubber band around your phone, it’s very difficult to send a text message or search for anything,” Mahoney said. “So it creates a kind of mindfulness.”
“I feel like a lot of people don’t even realize that they just pick up their phone and open an app, or even automatically open their phone because they’re so used to it. ” Mahoney said, adding that this creates a sense of alarm.our brain is what we teeth We’re talking on the phone.
Alternatively, you can establish clear phone boundaries.
Boundaries don’t just apply to other people, they also apply to your cell phone usage.
Mr Bailey suggested setting time limits on certain apps or establishing strict boundaries around cell phone use outside of working hours. This includes not having work email on your phone or not having notifications appear after a certain amount of time.
Mahoney added that you can also turn off your phone for an hour each day to give yourself some space.
“I tell people I’m going to turn off my phone, so if they need me, I’ll be available within an hour,” Mahoney said. “It sets expectations for myself and others.”
This is similar to leaving your phone upstairs after dinner or leaving it in your bag when you’re at the office. There’s no right way to set phone boundaries and it varies from person to person.
And it’s important to take care of yourself and your anxiety holistically.
Self-care can help combat anxiety, but it’s important not to ignore it. “We are so busy and have so much going on that sometimes we put this on the back burner, but it’s important to get proper rest, eat healthy food and get some exercise. That’s very important,” Howard said.
“All of these things are so important to managing anxiety and feeling your best,” Howard added.
You can also engage in mindfulness strategies like meditation, journaling, listening to calming music, and deep breathing to calm your mind and body, she said.
Additionally, you can ask for additional support. Mental health professionals can be found through databases such as: psychology today and inclusive therapist They are trained to support people with anxiety.
“Because no one should have to go through this alone,” Howard said.