Here’s the funny part of this title…. You never want actually to be stress free. In fact, having some level of stress is vital to our functioning in life. If we didn’t have some level of stress, we’d stay in bed all day, sleep or, possibly, be dead. Think about it, without some level of stress we don’t take action.
Let’s talk about the types of stress and why you need it.
Distress and Eustress. Distress, ‘the bad kind’ of stress or anxiety, is a negative feeling state that can leads to dysfunction. For example, if your mind is racing and your heart rate increases during an exam, you are likely to perform poorly on that test. This type of stress does not help us; in fact it hinders our functioning. It is best to reduce this type of stress.
Eustress, aka ‘the good stress,’ is heightened arousal that leads to optimal performance. In fact, this type of stress usually feels good! Take that same exam for example. Your heart rate increases and you find that you become even more focused on the task at hand. Maybe you had successfully studied the night before and you feel overwhelming confidence. You feel more like Stephan Curry shooting the ball with 3 seconds left in the NBA Finals than a rookie who is forced to take the shot. You know you’re going to hit ‘nothing but the net.’
So, don’t worry if you are feeling a moderate level of anxiety. It is probably a good thing! We’ve known this to be true since the early 20th century. A team of psychologists Robert Yerkes and John Dodson discovered this finding in 1908, which describes this truth. If you want to learn more about this law of stress as it relates to performance, Google it!
Dr. Jeffrey Kassinove and Dr. Kevin Giangrasso
“The smartphone has become a repository of the self, recording and dispensing the words, sounds and images that define what we think, what we experience and who we are.”
Both fascinating and disturbing, the Wall Street Journal article, “How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds” by Nicholas Carr, responds to the growing problem of our reliance on our smartphones. Research has found that with our dependence on smartphones, our intellect weakens and our phones breed anxiety, even when out of sight or not in use. These findings are extremely frightening, given the reliance we place on smartphones and the utter despair many feel when parted with our phones.
One study, conducted in 2015, found, “…when people hear their phones ring but are unable to answer it, their blood pressure spikes, their pulse quickens, and their problem-solving skills decline.” In another study, conducted at the University of Essex, researchers found how much our social skills and relationships can suffer due to our phones. They found that the “…mere presence of mobile phones…inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust and diminished the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding.” For many, the anxiety of being unable to answer their phone or a text, is nothing new, but the finding that problem-solving and social skills suffer greatly from the mere presence of a phone is striking.
How does a device that is not in sight or in use cause our intellect to decline? And why is it that anxiety from not answering our phones or a text is the new normal?
This is something we should not only reflect on (with our phones away and out of sight) but make a commitment to ourselves to put the phones away and spend time without our devices. As parents or caregivers, it is important to set an example for your family that relying on smartphones and other devices is not a healthy life choice. There are real psychological effects from our dependence on our phones and if we don’t learn to put the phones away, our intellect will continue to decline and our relationships will suffer, creating a society of screens and pixels. Take the time to put the phones away; we all could benefit from more meaningful and quality social time and less anxiety and distraction.
- Therapy West Staff
“The Largest Mass Shooting in United States History,” “Hurricane Irma,” “Hurricane Maria,” “Leader Kim Jong Un,” “Equifax Credit Union”….