Do you need to de-stress and change your smartphone habit? April is Stress Awareness month as well as Easter school holidays and with this in mind we are thinking about how being constantly online can contribute to stress. By changing our online habits, we can become more present and less stressed.
If you try and be more present it can have huge benefits for your relationships with your children and partner and for your own mental health and wellbeing. Being more present is a mindset and you have to consciously make the effort.
On average people check in with their smartphone 200+ times a day! One in four of us spend more time online than we do asleep. Being online all the time at this level can be damaging to mental health. Excessive use of smartphones has been linked to worsening depression and increasing levels of anxiety and stress.
How often have your children asked you ‘Look Mummy!’ ‘Just look at this!’. And you say ‘Yes I’m looking..’ but the reality is you are just quickly reading something and just trying to do both at once? We’ve all done it. Pushing the buggy down the street while reading an email and drinking a coffee, we do it because we are busy and we are multi-tasking and that’s good, right?
No, it’s not. Really, we should be focusing on each and every moment rather than sending our brains into a spin multitasking. Multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. New studies have shown that it makes you less productive, makes you stressed and possibly even damages your brain. Researchers at Stanford University found that people who are regularly bombarded with information online cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who focus purely on one task at a time 
How many times have you started doing something quickly online like a grocery shop and you get a notification and think I’ll just check this. You forget what you were doing and it takes you an hour instead of those original 30 minutes.
So how do you make sure that you aren’t online all the time and that you manage to be more present?
Ask yourself ‘Do I consume too much needless information and do I need to refocus on what I need to know?’ Try to think about how you use technology and by refocusing your online habit you can be more present. It’s hard when you are a parent and you may feel isolated, the internet is your connection to the outside world. So just limit your time more.
Your smartphone (which is generally the culprit of most people being less present) is addictive and is designed to be so. We reach for our phone when we are bored or have five minutes to fill that, then become wasted hours.
Think about having a digital detox to destress, and get rid of that wasted time you have online, just like you do when you want to go on a diet. Don’t get rid of the good productive time just the wasted time.
6 Tips on How to Be More Present
- Distance yourself from your phone so stop letting it notify you of its presence! Turn off all notifications on your phone, especially social media. Ask yourself do you really need to know if someone has liked my Instagram post?
- Don’t have your smartphone as an alarm clock. It really does work having it out of your bedroom. Out of sight out of mind…
- Remember, the internet is a vast rabbit hole that will take all of your time if you let it. So, remain focussed on the reason you went online in the first place.
- The boundaries between work life and family soon blur when you work from home, so set boundaries for work time and family time.
- Only check your emails twice a day! Morning and afternoon. If you are feeling really focussed you could just do this from your laptop! Not your phone. Take away the need to constantly check your phone.
- Focus on what you are actually doing as you do it. Just do one thing well at once. Try not to multi-task no matter how tempting.
7 Ways Being More Present Helps Your Wellbeing
- It makes you less stressed!
- You will be able to focus more on your children and family.
- Your brain can recharge be less distracted and focus on the here and now. and you will be less anxious.
- It will make you feel less pressured and better about yourself. Less of the perfect ‘Instagramable lifestyle.’
- You can set a great example to your children when you tell them they have to switch off their screens. Lead by example!
- You will have more time and be more productive. No more wasted hours and time back for yourself to do something that really matters.
- Most importantly – you will sleep better!
You don’t have to totally switch off and become a nomad, just focus on being more present than you are. It’s hard at first but the more you practice it and are aware of what you are doing the easier it becomes. Remember time is precious and you can never replace it and if you can improve your wellbeing and become less stressed at the same time then it’s a win-win!