WhatsApp is amazing! We can stay in touch, make video calls, send videos, jokes, create groups! I truly think it is one of the best inventions, but for anxious people, it can create some problems. Even if you do not think you are anxious, it may be causing you some problems that you haven’t realised.
As I mentioned in my blog about why we have anxiety, research is showing that we are so overly stimulated by modern life that it is igniting the fight or flight response when there is no immediate threat. This can result in prolonged anxiety, which may lead to anxiety disorders.
Every time that we get a notification that we have received a message, it actually causes change in our brain – google it, it is a thing! These notifications create too many hormones, causing anxiety. You are not imagining it.
It makes sense that these notifications can cause unwanted emotions. Here are a few situations that could cause a variety of anxiety responses:
Situation 1: It is 7pm and you are at home with your family. Your phone beeps and you see a work WhatsApp chat. The big sale of the day has just fallen through. Seeing this message will ruin the rest of your night. You won’t be able to enjoy your night with your partner, your kids, you won’t be able to relax. Just by seeing this, you have lost time that you will not get back, as the news has ignited your fight or flight response. It may disturb your sleep, meaning you do not get the rest that you need to prepare you to tackle the problem at hand. Imagine if that happens every day.
Situation 2: You sent a text that you really want a reply to. The little ticks go blue. They show that the person has seen the message. You wait. No reply. Next day, still no reply. Modern life has trained us to expect immediate gratification, so if someone does not reply, it can cause social anxiety, causing a range of different emotions depending on the person. This can cause people to feel very insecure and a whole range of emotions.
Situation 3: Panic disorder or generalised anxiety disorder in particular cause the brain to feel like it has shut down and you just cannot reply. It is not because you do not want to, but because you can’t. This leads to the feeling of being overwhelmed by your anxiety, as you want to be “normal” and reply, are scared to lose friends due to this, and feeling bad that you “are” this way.
These anxiety responses to just the action of receiving a message or email are real and happening many times throughout the day to you. Even if you do not feel stressed, these notifications are having an effect on your brain.
So it might be time to try a WhatsApp Detox?
I want to look more in-depth into all of this, it is after all an addiction that we all have, so let’s try something small things to start.
Turn off your phone at night. Wake up in the morning and WAIT to turn your phone on. Most importantly, find a way that works for you to avoid your phone. Leave it at home when you go for a walk, set specific times when you can look at it and turn off your notifications.
If you need to, buy this The Mobile Phone Jail!
Try different things and see what works best for you.
We will talk more about this tomorrow, it is a big subject!