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“All of that trauma is being displayed online and it is very unfortunate trauma and we are all very sensitive to and I’m very empathetic to all of it. But the constant barrage of it onto our system is re-wounding us over and over. Traumatizing us over and over. And can I help my brother If I am less reactive and able to approach situations with a calm?” – Dr. Lori Whatley
In this episode of Happiness in Progress, you’ll hear from Dr. Lori Whatley who is a clinical psychologist. In her practice, she started to notice that excessive digital device use was at the core of many of her clients problems – anxiety, sleep, relationship issues. That’s when she started to investigate how smartphones are impacting our lives.
Smartphone Addiction During the Pandemic
Before the pandemic, we were all using our smartphones a lot. A LOT. But somehow, we were able to use them even more! Dr. Whatley says the numbers show smartphone use has increased 87% during the pandemic.
Dr Whatley says the first step is to realizing we have a problem, “We need to understand how distracted we are by our digital devices and what it’s doing to our relationships, our productivity and our creativity.”
Your Phone is Making You Anxious
Dr. Whatley says most of us are not only using our devices more, but we’re multitasking with them as well. During this episode, she describes watching a TV show, being on our smartphone with our iPad next to us.
She says this causes chaos in our minds saying, “It keeps us on high alert and anxious.”
A huge part of the anxiety that comes with excessive digital device usage is that it is directly impacting our sleep. Dr. Whatley says we are unable to get to a calm state at night because of the blue light coming from our phones. The issue kind of snowballs when we stop producing the melatonin our bodies need and start producing more cortisol and adrenalin.
She suggests putting your phone down for the last two hours of the day before you go to sleep. She says some experts suggest one hour before sleep.
She says in many cases, once the sleep issue is fixed, the anxiety issue will follow.
The online world right now has set up the perfect storm for heightened anxiety. Between the pandemic, unknown future and racial unrest – there has been a lot of trauma online.
“All of that trauma is being displayed online and it is very unfortunate trauma and we are all very sensitive to and I’m very empathetic to all of it. But the constant barrage of it onto our system is rebounding us over and over. Traumatizing us over and over. And can I help my brother If I am less reactive and able to approach situations with a calm?”
Instead of nonstop scrolling, Dr. Whatley suggests making your technology work for you.
Make Technology Work for You
“Our devices are there for our convenience. We get to choose how we use them so that it’s a way that is convenient and makes our lives better,” she said.
The first steps here are simple ones – including just seeing how much time you’re spending on your phone. Many apps and iPhones will track this information for you in the settings. You can set limits for your social media time.
Dr. Whatley says anytime she goes to a company to talk about productivity (where companies are losing more than $90 billion a year!) she suggests getting control of impulsive email checking.
She advises to start by giving yourself specific times of day you’ll check your email – once in the morning, once at night. She says the people who email you will learn to stop expecting immediate responses.
More on the Podcast
- What a 30-day digital detox looks like in the 21st century (and how you can do it!)
- How to connect with your children
- The impact she has seen in clients
- Why you shouldn’t look to your devices for the solution to excessive digital device use
If you liked this episode check out this episode with The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus. He will talk all about what you can do to get better sleep.