Have you ever been sitting at home, minding your own business, and suddenly your phone starts hopping with notifications? You reach over from your comfortable position to see what’s going on, and suddenly you’re immersed in an ongoing debate about whether or not your friend’s friend was out of line for not commenting something nice on her latest Instagram picture.
Chances are, yes, you have. In fact, living in the 21st century we all have. Although the last few months have slowed down dramatically in terms of our social lives, switching from living out our lives via the real world to digital means that we’re now overwhelmed by our little mobile devices more than ever.
Whether it’s boredom refreshing on Snapchat, Zoom catch-ups, or Whatsapp chats, we’re spending more time than every attached to our phones, and that is having a huge impact on our mental health.
While keeping in touch with our friends and family online is great, and truly one of the greatest things to be living in this era, being available 24/7 is draining, and we may not even realise. When it comes to Whatsapp in particular, many people use this as their main way of communicating, this can range from your mam texting you to come downstairs for dinner, and your friend texting you upset at 3 am because her boyfriend sent her 2 X’s instead of his usual 3. The pressure to constantly address these notifications you receive is draining. While of course, it’s important to be a good friend and chat with them whenever they need it, it’s also important to look after yourself too.
Accepting push notifications from apps when you first install them is almost second nature. You click ‘yes, yes, yes’ when you install and receive notifications every time something happens on the app for forevermore. But, what if we told you that you didn’t have to live this way?
Turning off your push notifications from apps such as Whatsapp and Snapchat can actually have a hugely beneficial impact on your mental health. Being available for others every second of every day can make you feel like you don’t have a moment to yourself, resulting in app anxiety. By muting overactive groupchats and switching off unnecessary push notifications we can start to take back some of the control that we’ve lost along the way. You now have the power to only engage with social media and all that comes with it when YOU feel like it, and not when your phone rings.
But, don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to go cold turkey – here are a couple of steps you can take to minimise your app anxiety.
The first step in switching off your push notifications is, well, switching off your push notifications. This is actually a lot simpler than you might think. When it comes to social media and other non-urgent alerts like games or retail flash-sales, switch em’ off! IOS and Android allow you to switch off notifications through an app-by-app basis, switch off anything you know you definitely don’t need and take things from there.
Of course, we shouldn’t be expected to switch off all of our notifications in one go and stay that way forever. Beginning slowly is the way to go. Like we said above, begin by switching off notifications from apps that you know aren’t exactly urgent. Try this for a week or so and see how you get on, you can then move on to other apps you use more often like Snapchat or Whatsapp and switch those off for a few days too and see how you feel. You can tell your friends and family what you’re doing so that they know you’re not just ignoring them. Give yourself set times to go on to whatever apps you like, chat with people, interact, and when you exit out of the app, know that you don’t need to go back to it until you feel that you want to.
When you’ve spent a while living the notification free life, reflect on the experience. How did it make you feel? Do you think it benefited you? Do you miss them? Take note of how you feel and make a plan of how you want to move forward with it.