Are you overwhelmed by having your mobile screen full of notifications? What’s more, they don’t even accumulate because as soon as one arrives, you eliminate it ? Work, messages from your partner or best friend, jokes sent to you on WhatsApp, promotions, Instagram or Facebook ‘likes’, Twitter mentions … Each and every one of us marks which ones have the highest priority , or even all of them, but that does not mean that we are not overwhelmed by eliminating them.

Surely you are familiar with a situation in which you are talking to a person and you cannot look at your mobile (at work, at a meal, etc.) and when you look at the time on your mobile phone you have seen that there is a notification. Getting rid of it, even by sliding it with your finger, seems rude to you, but then you keep thinking that it is there and that you should remove it because … Oh no! Now the mobile phone vibrates, or the screen has turned on … And those little red circles in the logos that indicate that you have unread messages? Wouldn’t you love if they weren’t there?

And those people who are capable of leaving the screen full of ads? That they do not eliminate them because they want to see them little by little or, they simply ignore them? Does it irritate you? Well, yes, you are not the only one, there are many people who feel tremendously nervous if they see a mobile like that. But having this feeling of stress is not useful , and even hinders you, what can we do?

The explanation of having to constantly look at notifications

The reason why we get stressed when we do not look at notifications on time is social and cultural. Smartphones are made to keep us permanently connected and to be one click away from any impulse that we want to satisfy. Doesn’t it happen to you that if you take a while to respond to a message, you get thrown in your face? For example, email never had an immediate function, such as WhatsApp or the classic SMS. It is a mailbox like the one in our house. However, according to one study, 70% of work-related emails are answered, on average, in less than 6 seconds. And it is that the work environment generates that need to comply as soon as possible, even outside of business hours. But that is extrapolated to everything. In a moment of relative urgency we choose to send a WhatsApp and we look to see, without turning off the screen, if the person who receives it is already reading it.

All those little exchanges generate a culture of the immediate, but what if we don’t answer now, what could happen?

From the neurosciences there is an explanation related to cortisol, the stress hormone . This is secreted in the adrenal glands, which as their name suggests, are located above the kidneys, by order of the hypothalamus, which sends a signal to the pituitary gland, and this to these glands. This process takes place before any stress reaction, and puts us on alert. Of course, cortisol, secreted in large quantities and for a very continuous time, begins to be harmful to the body , so stress, in the long term, takes its toll on a physical and mental level.

But this cortisol does not explain why we are stressed because of the notifications , but rather it is the consequence of that false need to attend to or eliminate them at the moment. What happens is that by immediately relieving that stress, we become more and more addicted to this practice.

What can we do?

Actually, what happens to us when we want to remove notifications is to have some control over the situation. If not, we enter a state of uncertainty of ‘you know what happens if I don’t’, or ‘maybe I’m missing an interesting message’ . But the way to remove that need is by taking control of when and how we want to look at the notifications.

The first thing is to make a list of the notifications that we usually have . We will put them in order of importance and those that are not urgent, we will silence them from the mobile phone directly. We do not have to know when someone responds to an Instagam stories or they send us something through a WhatsApp group. Silence, silence to all that!

The second is to leave those that we have as important, because they have to do with family, close friends or work, and do a little exercise in logic . Ask yourself the following for each of those apps:

‘And if I don’t reply to the message now, what could happen?’

You or yourself will be able to analyze the answers. Write all the possible answers on a piece of paper and you will see that, in most, nothing happens. And that in urgent cases, they can call you by phone .

The third thing is to take control of what you watch and what you don’t. Once the straw is silenced, that is, it does not appear even on the home screen, go establishing a series of action guidelines in case you have a notification. They are guidelines that must be clear , concise and that you put in writing. Improvisations are not worth it. They are your rules and only you control them. For instance:

    • When you have a notification, wait 5 minutes to look at it. At the beginning you can put 1 or 2 minutes. But then it increases, for example, every week increase by 5 minutes . You will reduce stress little by little.
    • If you need to be attentive or attentive to the work email, use the computer if possible, or if not, open only the messages that are of this type . You leave the others on the screen and look at them when you get home or go on public transport.
  • Set a time to look at personal messages and emails per day. For example, from 8 to 9 at night : at that time you can go application by application looking to see if there has been something. Isn’t it more pleasant to find yourself with 3 or 5 messages at the same time than one every hour?

How to get distracted if you don’t stop thinking about that mobile notification

We are going to teach you a technique called thought interruption, which helps us distract ourselves from obsessive thinking. Establish a gesture that helps you to stop thinking NOW on the mobile phone: it can be a snap of the fingers, a slap, an ENOUGH said to yourself or a rubber band that you wear on your wrist that you tighten to give yourself a pinch. At that moment, automatically, you must have your head in another thought that you establish beforehand. For example: start to describe everything you see around for a minute. Or start counting from 100 to 1 three at a time backwards . Or repeat a phrase to yourself. Then, follow up with what you were before you felt the notification.

Little by little you will reduce that stress and you will be able to learn a new way of relating to your smartphone , and therefore to other people. Your stress will be reduced , you will be in control and you will feel better.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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