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  • Business Insider spoke with Rangan Chatterjee, author of “The 4 Pillar Plan.”
  • Chatterjee talked about how the effect of using our smartphones can raise our Cortisol levels.
  • Chatterjee explains what you can do to reduce these rising levels of stress, including a ‘”screen-free sabbath”.

Read the full transcript below:

I think that stress is a huge problem these days, and one of the biggest sources…are our smartphones. That’s why I’m a big fan of something called a “screen-free Sabbath,” this whole concept that we may have one whole day a week – if possible – where we don’t go on our screens.

Now I know many of you are probably thinking: “that’s a little bit too scary.” But the benefits can be absolutely profound. 

One recent UK study suggested that we look at our phones “221 times a day.” Even more alarming is a recent study from America which says that we actually touch our phones over “2,000 times a day.” That’s absolutely remarkable, but why does this matter?

The reason it matters is because it stops us from having any off time. We’re constantly “go go go” from the minute we wake up and we check Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook. Our lives are go go go these days with work, the commute, emails, to do lists. And this constant stream of information – or what I call “information overload” – continues until late into the evening often while we’re still in bed. 

And this is a big problem because, stress raises levels of something called “Cortisol” in our bodies.
Cortisol is our bodies principal stress response hormone. If we have raised levels of our stress response hormone it affects our brain, our performance, our function. We get tired at work. It’s not only work, it then impacts our home lives and our personal relationships in the evening. 

We have to use technology in a way that it helps us rather than controls us. A simple tip that I use – both myself and with my patients – is to think about “can we have one hour in the morning where we don’t look at our phones?”

It can be quite remarkable, or at least have your phone in “Airplane mode,” because then you can go on an app, listen to some music, or do something like a meditation app without getting that constant stream of noise. 

Another simple tip to reduce how much you use your smartphone, but more importantly how your smartphone might be adversely affecting you is to switch off notifications on your phone, this can be life-changing. Do you need to see everytime someone likes that last Instagram comment? Do you need to know every time a new email pings in your inbox? 

Simply taking off those notifications puts you in control, because then you can choose when you go on Instagram, when you go on Facebook, and when you choose to utilise social media, you can choose to access emails but you’re not constantly bombarded by somebody else’s agenda. Because when somebody else likes your Instagram post, that could be 24 hours a day, that could be at any time and that’s gonna then impact you. 

You divert attention from what you’re doing, and you go and look at that post. Now look, I’m not criticising, I am as guilty as anyone but I do not have notifications on my phone anymore, and I tell you what – I would not go back.  

Produced by David Ibekwe.  Research by Fraser Moore.

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