If you are like me (and 60% of all Americans), the first thing you do in the morning is pick up your phone and check your social media, email, and texts.
“Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m addicted to my smartphone.”
I’m one of the 30% who never turn off their phones. I check it before I go to bed, first thing in the morning, walking down the street, at parties, watching TV, at the end of meetings, and even in the meeting if it’s boring.
Granted, as a public relations practitioner, my phone is a necessary part of a job that includes odd hours. It is how our clients reach me if there is a crisis. It’s the number I give to the media; people who rarely work a regular 9 to 5 day. And when my daughter was in a fender bender last year, I was really glad I had my phone nearby.
Despite my phone’s many benefits, staying connected can be exhausting. A recent Pew Research Center study found that, while frequent internet and social media use does not cause stress, “there are circumstances under which the use of digital technology increases awareness of stressful events,” especially for women. It’s called “the cost of caring.”
In other words, in a world that is so interconnected and accessible, we can literally care so much it hurts.
Nowhere is that more evident than during this election cycle. Negative ads play on our fears, and our anxiety is only made worse on social media where friends are turning on friends and death wishes are made daily.
It’s no wonder we feel permitted to call each other names. I’ve been lumped in with “people of your ilk.” I’ve been told my views are disgusting, and that I’m “acting all high and mighty.” It’s beyond stressful. It’s more like election abuse.
I’m not alone in feeling battered and exhausted by how polarized the two presidential candidates have made our country, our news, and our social media feeds. The American Psychological Association reports, “52 percent of adults are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressed by the battle for the Oval Office.”
And as much as we all pray the rhetoric will die down once the new president is sworn in, even in the best of circumstances we will still be bombarded with traumatic news—from our friends and from across the globe. As long as we long for instant gratification from our phones, we have to accept the negative consequences along with the benefits.
So, what’s a person to do?
According to neuroscientist Sara Lazar from Harvard Medical School, your emotional well-being depends on your ability to put down the phone and become more mindful. She recently discovered that meditation does more than decrease stress. It actually can change the make-up of your brain.
So can Adele, Mozart, and Coldplay apparently.
According to another study out of the UK, certain songs produced higher levels of relaxation than others, reducing overall anxiety by up to 65 percent. You might want to rethink your deep-seated hatred of Coldplay. With one week to go until the polls close on Election 2016, you may also want to put their song, “Strawberry Swing,” and the rest of this playlist on heavy rotation.
- “We Can Fly,” by Rue du Soleil (Café Del Mar)
- “Canzonetta Sull’aria,” by Mozart
- “Someone Like You,” by Adele
- “Pure Shores,” by All Saints
- “Please Don’t Go,” by Barcelona
- “Strawberry Swing,” by Coldplay
- “Watermark,” by Enya
- “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix),” by DJ Shah
- “Electra,” by Airstream
- “Weightless,” by Marconi Union
(Lyrics by Gnash ft. Olivia O’Brien. Mobile phone image from Shutterstock.)