One of our most popular blogs to date has been The Human Stress Response - Homeostasis.  Recently we asked our Team Sustain clients what aspects of Sustainable Health are vital to them, and how can TSTMethod offer more?  One common thread that seems to appear in the feedback is stress management. Stress management is vital because no matter what diet you follow, how much you exercise and what supplements you take if you’re not managing your stress, you will struggle to make progress in the gym and be at risk for modern degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmunity

Today we are going to offer a straightforward life hack that will reduce your stress and increase your productivity.

Let me introduce you to Bob, your new best friend.

Bob wakes you up every morning.  Bob interrupts you when you are eating your breakfast. Bob distracts you from having a meaningful conversation with your family.  Bob comes with you to the toilet and makes the experience last longer than it should.  Bob travels with you to work and makes you check your work e-mail, your social media and distracts you from paying attention to the real world around you. Bob also tells you about all the bad news going on in the world. Bob constantly interrupts you at work and lower your productivity.  Bob comes to lunch with you and often prevents you from having meaningful conversations with real people.  Bob interrupts you during your workouts at the gym.  Bob continually interrupts you when you are spending time with your family and friends.  Bob shines a blue light in your face at night, which impact the quality of your sleep. Bob comes to bed with you each night. Bob has been known to interrupt you while having sex. Bob wakes you up at night if you fail to put Bob on aeroplane mode.  Bob is with you for most of the day and you never really have any alone time without Bob.  Bob drains your energy levels and takes up more time in your day than any other person or task.

How annoying is Bob? Bob would honestly be a stressful person to be around, and he would not be on your friend's list for very long.  I want you to read over the above paragraph again and replace “Bob” with the worlds “Your phone.”

Americans check their phones about 47 times per day. For people between the ages of 18 and 24, the average is 82. Collectively, this adds up to more than 9 billion phone checks every day. On average, Americans spend more than four hours a day on their phones. This amounts to about 28 hours a week, 112 hours a month, or 56 full days in a year. A child born in 2013 or later will have spent a year of her life in front of a screen by the age of seven. Younger kids spend more time engaging with entertainment screens than they do in school. Teens spend even more time playing with screens and phones than they do sleeping.

Huawei commissioned Decibel Research to conduct a study to find out how Australians use their smartphones. The study found that the average Australian spends 2.5 per day on their phones, which doesn’t sound like much – but that works out to be a whopping 38 days a year!

The average Brit now checks a mobile phone every 12 minutes and is online for 24 hours a week, finds an Ofcom study revealing the extent to which people now rely on the internet.

We are using our phones so much that we are giving ourselves repetitive strain injuries such as texting thumb or text neck and cell phone elbow.

Lower your stress with less screen time.

I won’t go into the science of how addictive smartphone is and how they offer a dopamine reward in the brain.  If you honestly want to take control of your stress levels, you should start by turning off all notifications on your phone.  Turn off social media (even better remove the apps), e-mail alerts, messenger services, and all other notifications and alerts that are truly not important.  I personally only have phone calls and SMS alerts switched on.  Enable the "do not disturb" setting to switch on from 8 pm to 8 am, or the evening hours that you do not wish to be disturbed.   

Is anything so important that it must take control of your life?  Is your phone more important than real human interactions, family, friends, digesting your food, your productivity, sex, and your awareness of the world around you?  Your phone is just like Bob, a real pain in the ass.  How many days would you remain friends with Bob before you told him to F-off?  When will you take back your life and tell your phone to F-off?

Fortunately, awareness of the harmful impacts of smartphones is increasing. Several books have been written on this topic in the past few years, and it is more frequently discussed in society. 

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Comedians such as Louis CK have been among the most vocal critics of technology and social media, especially for kids. Let’s see what he had to say on an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s Late Night show.