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Do you have smartphone anxiety?

Do you have smartphone anxiety?

While your smartphone’s constant updates could trigger anxiety, you can also have a fear of losing or forgetting your phone too. Here are the signs you may have nomophobia, or a no-mobile-phone phobia.

Go anywhere and you’ll see a lot of people with their head buried in their phone. That intense focus on our devices carries some modern-day tech problems, such as “phubbing”—phone-snubbing someone you’re with. Then there’s the “smombie” phenomenon: Short for smartphone zombie, it means you’re spacing out zombie-like on your phone while walking down the road or, worse, crossing the street.

And then there’s “nomophobia,” or no-mobile-phone phobia, which is the fear of being away from your phone; this one can do real damage to your quality of life and health.

What is nomophobia?

What is nomophobia?
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Nomophobia refers to “anxiety about not having access to a mobile phone or mobile phone services,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which officially added the word in 2019. However, mobile phone-related anxiety isn’t new.

In fact, the term was coined in 2008 by the UK Post Office to determine if mobile phones were feeding anxiety, according to a 2019 study in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. At the time, about half of respondents at the time said they felt stress when not in contact with their phones. Fast forward a dozen years later, and it’s only gotten worse.

That said, nomophobia is not considered a diagnosable mental health condition as it’s not listed in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the gold standard for psychiatric conditions. (Although in 2014, researchers proposed that nomophobia be included in the DSM, according to a review published in Psychology Research and Behavior Management.)

Here are 13 more ways your mobile phone affects body and mind. 

Nomophobia can hurt your sleep

Nomophobia can hurt your sleep
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A 2020 study published in the journal Sleep found that 90 percent of the 327 university students surveyed could be characterised as having moderate to severe nomophobia. Unfortunately, nomophobia was associated with sleep disruption, daytime sleepiness, and poor sleep hygiene habits.

Participants admitted to checking e-mail, texts, or social media after turning off their lights to go to bed, explains Jennifer Peszka, PhD, study co-author. For you, that might look like a lot of things: It might be catching up on social media in bed, waking up to check your phone in the middle of the night, or keeping notifications on while you sleep.

Here are 13 more surprising things that could be causing your sleep woes. 

The connection with anxiety

The connection with anxiety
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Ever get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you can’t remember where you placed your phone? Or, maybe you have stress dreams that your phone is lost or stolen. “I think you can really view nomophobia as a special form of anxiety,” says Peszka. The reasons behind why someone has nomophobia are variable. “I think different people worry about different things. There are some people who seem to report they’re worried they will miss out on something or that they won’t be able to get help or contact someone if they need to,” she explains.

Discover more sneaky things in your home that could be causing anxiety. 

Signs you may have nomophobia

Signs you may have nomophobia
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If you can’t go to sleep without scrolling through your news and social feeds, keep notifications on throughout the night to make sure you don’t miss a thing, or always have your phone planted in your palm, you might suspect you have nomophobia.

There’s also a helpful, more specific questionnaire that was developed by researchers in 2010. It’s a collection of 20 self-rated questions on a scale of one to seven (one being “strongly disagree” and seven being “strongly agree”). Anything over 20 correlates with at least mild nomophobia. Scoring above 100 (out of 140 points) is severe nomophobia. Here’s a sampling of five questions to ask yourself, which is a good starting point to spotting a problem – 25 or higher means you may want to take the rest of the test:

I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.

Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous

Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me

If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network

[If I did not have my smartphone with me] I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity

Here are 15 things about social phobia psychologists wish you knew. 

How to help yourself

How to help yourself
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Interestingly, some of the very things you’re told to do to sleep well could trigger stress if you have nomophobia. “Our research suggests that just telling someone to remove their mobile phones from their bedrooms might very well induce anxiety enough that their sleep would be disrupted,” says Peszka.

Peszka recommends cognitive-behavioural strategies that can help make parting with your phone a bit easier at night. If you can’t put your phone away or sleep with it out of your room (or even on the other side of your room), then use settings on your phone that limit your use but don’t prohibit it completely.

For instance, set the “do not disturb” function to be on from bedtime to the time you want to wake up. Notifications will be turned off (it won’t glow when you get a text or email) and you won’t be able to receive phone calls, though you can program in emergency contacts who can always get through for peace of mind that you won’t miss something truly important.

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When to seek help

When to seek help
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Do you feel sleepy during the day because you’re up late using your phone trying to scour your news feed? Are you woken up by dings in the middle of the night from friends’ texts or late-night work emails? Then, you’ll want to focus on bettering your sleep, says Peszka.

Outside of sleep, also consider your quality of life. “Like most anxiety, [nomophobia] becomes an issue when it is out of proportion to the actual threat and your actions to avoid being in a situation without your phone begins to interfere with your functioning,” she explains.

Now discover 35 more unusual phobias you never knew existed. 

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Source: RD.com

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