MIND + MOBILE: DOES ‘PHONE SEPARATION ANXIETY’ REALLY EXIST?
From late-night emails to sending out meeting reminders throughout the day, employers and employees alike rely on the constant contact to each other and clients through cellphones. You know the feeling – you’ve left your phone at home and feel that sudden pang of anxiety, as if you have lost your connection to the world.
This is called nomophobia (short for no-mobile phobia) and it affects people of all ages, especially those who use their phones to store, share and access personal memories. When users were asked to describe how they felt about their phones, words such as hurt (neck pain was often reported) and alone predicted higher levels of nomophobia.
People develop emotional dependency on the phone because it holds details of our lives. For screenagers, it is FOMO (the fear of missing out) that creates the most separation anxiety. If they can’t see what’s happening on Snapchat or Instagram, they become panic-stricken about not knowing what’s going on socially.
In adulthood, phones gray the line between work and home life, making it seem acceptable to work outside of office hours. The fear of performance at work can hinder your attention on home life matters which, in turn, affects physical and emotional attachments with family members.
The criteria for phone addiction include it being the most important thing in your life, building up the time you spend on it, withdrawal symptoms and using it to as a means to de-stress or get excited. Your phone use also needs to compromise relationships or work and provoke inner conflict – you know you should cut down but can’t.
As an employer, it’s important to have employees be present and engaged at work. Education is key to the anxiety of constant connection that cellphones create. A focus on education and skill building, especially around mindfulness, can help keep employees’ anxiety-free, present and engaged.
Deliberately separating from your phone by turning it off or leaving it at home can reduce dependency and anxiety. Here’s more tips for reducing phone usage …
Keep a schedule. Check messages and alarms once an hour versus every few minutes.
Check notifications. Silence notifications for less-important apps and / or remove them from your main screen.
Keep your bed for sleeping. Don’t use your phone in the bed. It can distract you with work emails, causing stress, and the light can cause sleep disruption. This same rule applies for computers as well.
Stay accountable. Install an app that tracks screen time and evaluate how much time you’re spending on your mobile device.
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