The Truth About Phone Separation Anxiety

You’ve now heard of monophobia, but what about nomophobia (short for no-mobile phobia)? That’s right – a fear of being without your phone aka phone separation anxiety. 

Now, I’m not that old, but I remember a time when smartphones didn’t exist. The only telephones were the ones we call ‘landlines’, which were too expensive to use all the time so called were strictly reserved for evenings and weekends. If you had plans to meet someone, you agreed and time and a place and if one person was late…the other person just had to wait!

I remember my first smartphone. The idea that I could use different apps on the go, have unlimited texts and calls, take pictures and change up my phone’s look with different cases and accessories was REVOLUTIONARY. From the moment I posted my first Instagram image of my breakfast, I was hooked. 

Can you imagine going back, now? I literally don’t think I have ever gone to a new place without using Google Maps, or found the answer to something I don’t know without using Google. I even ask Siri every morning what the weather is like, as if I couldn’t just look out of the window. 

Without my phone, I feel a bit lost. Not only can I not contact the people closest to me (how would I do that? Post!?), but I have lost my dictionary, my news feed, my recipe book, my professional links. 

There are negatives of smartphones, of course. I remember going to concerts where the closest you’d get to technology was a clunky digital camera. Don’t even get me started on wedding ceremony pictures in which every single guest is holding up a phone instead of really watching two people make their vows!


Technology Angst

However, I’m not ashamed to say it – I sometimes feel anxious without my phone. And I’m not alone. Phone separation anxiety, or nomophobia, is considered a syndrome of problematic digital media use in mental health – a truly #firstworldproblem. 

A study by YouGov found that nearly 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage” and a fifth would feel disconnected from their digital identity. More than one in two nomophobes never switch off their mobile phones!

It just goes to show how much of our lives we spend online, and the dependency and trust we put into those little screens. 


Take A Digital Detox

The symptoms of nomophobia are a feeling of general anxiety over potentially running out of battery or being in a no signal zone. There can even be physical side effects, including sore necks and RSI in the thumbs due to overuse of the device. If you’re feeling like you might be a little too attached to your phone, maybe it’s time to think about a digital detox.

Most of us need our phones for work, to keep in touch with people or even for safety reasons, but let’s be realistic here – the world isn’t going to end if you don’t look at your phone for 20 minutes. Or how about an hour? Set yourself small goals to spend less time on your phone. Go for a walk in the sunshine and don’t even THINK about snapping a pic for Instagram and posting it for #SaturdayGoals! I do my best work when I have my phone turned off, as I am less likely to mindlessly scroll through Twitter in an act of pure procrastination. I can guarantee you’ll feel and be more productive! 

Leaving your phone alone can also help to improve your relationships. My husband and I have got into the habit of leaving our phones in the bedroom whilst we watch something together on TV, or when we’re eating dinner. It allows us to focus purely on each other and not get distracted by alerts – if he was on his phone whilst I was telling him about my day, I’d feel pretty offended! 

Finally, just take the opportunity to look up once in a while. We miss so much of the world when we’re looking down at those screens, and life’s far too beautiful to miss. Enjoy!

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