Whether you start your day with a cup of tea or coffee or brushing your teeth or hopping in the shower, most people will also reach for their phones. Morning’s can determine how the rest of your day pans out. It’s important to make sure that your habits in the A.M. are healthy and according to experts, your phone shouldn’t be part of them.
The 2016 Global Mobile Consumer Survey by Deloitte states that 18% of people check their phones immediately after waking up, 43% of people do it within 5 minutes of waking up while 62% of people do it within 15 minutes.
But what’s the big deal? The founder and CEO of The Stress Institute offers her own perspective. In an article on Shape, Dr. Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., explains that feelings of stress and anxiety can arise when the brain switches from a peaceful state of sleeping to being bombarded with too much information coming from your phone. As you wake up and check for missed emails, calendar updates, and stimulating social media feeds, you send your brain into panic mode and triggers the release of stress hormones.
Our early morning routine sets the tone for the day. We miss something from that routine and our day immediately feels incomplete. Momentum author Michael McQueen believes it’s the first ten minutes of the day that dictate the productivity for the rest of it.
According to McQueen, waking up and scrolling through an email inbox or social media feed immediately takes away the proactive seat and puts us in a reactive state. As he tells News, “ this means they instantly start spending the day reacting, and they’re not in the driver’s seat.”
Tristan Harris, the former Design Ethicist at Google, likens technology to a magician. It takes advantage of blind spots, vulnerabilities, limits, or edges of our perception targeting them to influence our behavior. Product designers play to our psychological vulnerabilities in order to access our mind and hold our attention. He calls this mind hijacking.
Mobile phone technology seizes our brain by presenting us with a menu of options to choose from, highlighting the illusion of free choice as none of the “choices” were really our own, to begin with. This allows them to present you with an “architected” menu that is specifically-made to let them win, no matter what you choose.
Technology controls and damages our mind in a plethora of other ways by presenting us with minor rewards and highlighting FOMO and our need for social approval. Our phones hook us through an infinite loop of choices, and instant gratification.
An action becomes a habit when the act is performed consistently and repetitively through time until the brain gets used to the stimulus. When a habit is formed muscle memory kicks in, allowing you to act in autopilot mode and perform actions without much thought.
Using our phones early in the morning can lead to feelings of stress and being burned out before the day has barely started. So how can we give up something so ingrained into our system? Something that we act on without even thinking? Here are some suggestions from those who have succeeded in breaking free:
“Not only has it helped me in pretty much all of the ways the psychologists said it would, but not bringing my phone with me has also helped me realize how dependent on it I truly am,” she said of her experience in substituting technology time with early-morning strolls. “But being device-less has kept me in the moment, helping me to take in scenes I may have otherwise missed.”
“Something simple like making the bed or being grateful for what you achieved the day before can make all the difference,” McQueen said. “The idea is you deliberately doing something rather than doing something unintentionally.”
Are you ready to give this stress-inducing habit? While it can be difficult at first, putting a conscious effort into change can certainly place you in the right direction. It will put you on the path to creating stress-free mornings filled with positivity to get you ready to start the day.