You haven’t heard your phone ping in a few minutes.

You were expecting a call from that one client.

Your email is usually blowing up your notifications.

Why the silence?

You know you dropped your mobile into your purse when you left the house. Right? You rummage through all the pockets, the panic starting to creep into your heart.


You realize it’s sitting on the counter, right next to your water bottle. You forgot that, too.

Now what do you do? Do you turn around and speed home, your phone hand twitching every second until you can grasp that bleeping, backlit beauty?

Or do you take a deep breath and think, “meh, life will go on.”

Are we too connected?

An eMarketer survey revealed smartphone usage in Canada reached the halfway mark in 2014 and the organization projected 56 per cent of Canadians will use a smartphone regularly in 2015.

We lag behind our American friends of whom 64 per cent own a smartphone. As of January 2014, a whopping 90 per cent owned a cellphone.

We are always at the ready, answering a call, replying to an email or text, or sharing pictures of our momentous daily occasions like lunch, a broken fingernail or hair-got-done-day.

Some studies are showing adverse effects on our stress levels, though. Even as far back as 2011, a BMC Public Health survey revealed high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in men and symptoms of depression in women.

Another study, published in Pscyhology of Popular Media Culture, looked at the link between text messaging and interpersonal stress in first-year college students. Karla Klein Murdock of Washington and Lee University in Virginia found a strong relationship between the number of texts sent and received and the risk of emotional burnout and lower level of well-being in college freshmen and freshwomen.

She concluded that:

A heavy text messaging “lifestyle” may not allow people to take a break from stressful communications and leaves them more vulnerable to interpersonal stress as a result.

The adverse effects of sleeplessness are not news.

Smartphones are making us dumb

Maybe it’s time to put the phone down and slowly back away.

If you find yourself panicking when it goes missing — especially if it’s in your pocket and you just don’t realize it …

If you find yourself staring at your screen and muttering “mmhmmm” at your friends, family or co-workers and they are there in the room with you …

If you have images of your phone burned into your retinas and social media icons dancing in your brain while you’re trying to sleep …

You might want to follow some of these tips to mitigate the stress your smartphone can cause:

    1. Have a tech-free day: Try starting small with just a morning or an afternoon, then graduate yourself up to a whole day, weekend and then week (Woohoo! Vacation!)
    2. Turn off some notifications: Do you really need to know every time someone likes your Instagram picture or Facebook status update?
    3. Simplify your technology: Replace your high-end Cadillac smartphone with a cell that’s main functions are phone calls, emails and SMS messaging
    4. Be present: If you’re already in a conversation with someone, let that phone call go to voicemail and steel yourself against jumping to respond to whatever notification you just got
    5. Shut it down: Do not — not EVER and I mean it! — sleep with your phone; it isn’t a teddy bear

It’s crazy to think we’ve become hardwired to technology, that our phones are necessary for us to function as human beings.

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#digitaldetox #stressmanagement”]Take back your life and practise time without your phone.[/tweetthis]

Handling our connected life is part of stress management. Lessening the tension we allow our phones to create in our lives — not to mention in our relationships with others — can decrease the frequency of stressful moments and make for peaceful days.

I promise your life will go on if you don’t reply to that next text.

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