LAJFSTAJ L / L I FESTYLE T HE B EST NOT I F I CAT I ON The user is currently unavailable, working on self Are our phones a distraction fromwhat’s important or actually an important tool for selfimprovement - the truth is somewhere between the two Are you feeling more stress and anxiety than ever? Perhaps your smartphone is to blame. In these intensively connected times, the unrelenting stream of notifications, messages and news via our smartphones can leave us with the bitter feeling of being “drained” at the end of the day. And, no, this isn’t some layman's assessment: experts say that the barrage of text alerts and our constant engagement on social media through smartphones can have a long-term impact on our mental and emotional health. And whilewe’re on the subject of health, our mobile phones have been able to act as a direct conduit for anxiety since the outbreak of the pandemic, with streams of disturbing informationarrivingat avery stressful moment. So, what are we to do? Generally speaking, we have twooptions: adopt the practise of self-control in our daily smartphone routineor, quite simply, put downour phones and breathe a sigh of relief. Oh, if only it were that easy... Consider this scenario as an example: it's late at night, you should be getting ready for bed, because youhave a series of obligations to address early in themorning. However, instead of going to sleep, you stay awake until well aftermid86 | Tehnologija » Technology night, phone in hand, stuck in the vortex of a Twitter dilemma from the previous day. Or you head out for your lunchbreak on a nice day and insteadof restingyour eyes from the computer monitor, you scroll through Instagram asking yourself the same question: how can these influencers afford to spend half the winter skiing on Kopaonik and the other half in Zanzibar? Inboth cases, andmany others, it’s seemingly impossible to take your eyes offyour phone.Their almost irreplaceable, ubiquitous presence in our daily lives generates a continuous bombardment of informationthat influencesourmental health to a greater or lesser extent. During these already angst-filled times in which we all live, we can’t help but wonder howmuch of a mental and emotional toll our mobile phones take on us. Licensed clinical psychologist Maria Mouratidis claims that this “constant influx of information" turns us into torn individuals, which is unsustainableover the long run fromamental healthperspective: “holding devices literally in our hands all of the time keeps us in a constant state of alertness that can be draining over time,” she said, adding, “it doesn't help that the amount and type of information is oftennot filtered for urgency or importance”. Social media also adds “fuel to the fire” of anxiety, given that it can compel us to ceaselessly compare ourselves to others, which can increase feeling of depression. “Focusing on phones can also be a way of avoiding some thoughts, feelings and relationships,” she said. “Avoiding difficult feelings or complex relationships can contribute to mental health and addiction problems.” Alothasalsobeenwrittenabout the fact that developers of smartphones andother techdevices clearly “knewwhat they were doing” when they created things like ‘likes’ and notifications – all of which activate our internal reward system. “Technology is a tool. It is important to decide what type of relationship youwant to have with your technology,” saysMouratidis. “Phones and alerts are stimuli. You have choices about how and when to respond to stimuli. Not every stimulus needs a response or a response right now.” As a strategy to combat the detrimental impact of phones on our lifebalance, shesuggests limitingour overall use of technology. Not every task inyourdayneeds to revolvearoundyour phone. Read a book, or use your phone to call a loved one or a friend, instead of looking at social mediaor scrolling through thenews. She also suggests disabling notifications from your social media and email accounts. She also emphasised the regular recommended break from phone and technology use of one hour before bedtime. Many apps have features that enable you to limit the amount of time you can spend using them. While it is true that you can exceed that limit, at least you’re aware that you’redoing so. Držati gedžete u rukama sve vreme drži nas u stanju konstantne kontrolisane panike Holding devices in our hands all of the time keeps us in a constant state of alertness FOTO: Depositphotos / Iatanni