Can screen time cause anxiety? Yes, it can. You probably already had a sense that it did, but it is proven by science. Every day, more and more scientific articles emerge showing that screen time can cause anxiety, stress, issues with attention, focus, and even child development. First let me show you how and then we will talk about what can be done about it.
5 Ways Screen Time Increases Anxiety.
Screen Time, Anxiety, and Sleep… Oh my.
Our sleep patterns are being devastated by screen time use. Children and adults are bringing their phones and laptops into bed, crushing all hope of a good night’ sleep. Screen time increases the speed of the brain, as I describe below, making it even harder for the brain to quiet and calm down for sleep.
OCD Up from Screen Checking.
Constant checking of the phone creates the constant need to check your phone. Obsessive thoughts about what might be on the phone create compulsive behaviors of constantly checking emails, texts, and social media. Perhaps you have felt the feeling before. Wanting to check your phone even though it is all nonsense on it. Every time you check you are increasing the speed of your brain. This increases the feelings of anxiousness and anxiety.
Attention Impossible When Multi-Tasking Screens.
Calm-focused attention is a medium speed use of the brain. When you engage in too much screen time it speeds up the brain (to fast) and then poops it out (into slow). This makes it all but impossible to get into the “zone” of calm focused attention.
Depression on the Rise because of Screen Time.
Not only does over-use of social media create FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) it can increase self esteem issues, low motivation, and disappointment with one’s own life. When we compare our regular life to the highlight reel of others’, no wonder it leaves us feeling lacking. None of it is real. Remember that. It is image.
4 Ways to Reduce Screen Time
Put your phone away from you two hours before bed and DO NOT check it again.
When you wake up, do not check your phone for at least 30 minutes. I know what you are thinking, that is impossible. No, it’s not. I have been doing it for years. This allows your brain to reset itself to the natural rhythm of the day. It can ease in and ease out of the day. Not hit the ground running and then come to a screeching halt. This tip alone will be a game changer for you.
Check Your Phone 1 Time Per Hour
Do not check it constantly. This is terrible for you. Get used to checking it in intervals and immediately taking care of whatever is there. This reduces the stress mode of your brain. When you take care of the business immediately, it frees up your brain’s space.
Perform 1 Task at a Time
Don’t multi-task. Dr. Caroline Leaf calls it “Milkshake Multi-tasking” because it is like putting your brain in a blender. Science proves multi-tasking is not efficient in being the most productive. What is? Having one tab open at a time on your computer, not 10. Try it. Make a list of the things you need to get done. Then, go down the list one by one. Check them off as complete, and do not move on to the next one until the first one is complete.
Connect, Don’t Compare.
Use social media to connect, not to compare your life to other people’s lives. As Baz Luhrman says, “the race is long, and it is only with yourself.” There is no need for comparison. If you feel the deep need to compare. Compare yourself today, with yourself yesterday. That is the bar you should be worried about. I try not even to look at what other people have going on so as not to get distracted from my own busy life. But when I do, it is to validate my friends and family on their lives, not look at them compared to me. Keep your eye on becoming a better you. That is enough.
Why Protect Your Brain from Screen Time?
Screen time stresses out the brain and body and de-tunes it from its natural rhythm. When you are in front of a screen, it is giving off energy at 60 Hz. That is very fast energy. When your brain is calm and focused, it is working at around 12 Hz. The longer you sit in front of a screen, the more it is “Wiring and Tiring” your brain. This term was coined by Dr. Victoria Dunckley and I love it. First your brain becomes “wired”, or stressed out, because it attunes to the screen and begins to work faster and faster. Just from the electrical energy, not even from what you are involved in doing or watching, which usually also jacks up your brain. Then, from all that over stimulation, the brain begins to fatigue and become “tired”. Tired and wired is an ugly combination. Thing of the last time you were exhausted and stressed out at the same time. Do you remember how it felt? Not pretty, right?
Now imagine days filled with purposeful, calm focus. That is the ticket. That is where you want to be. It an happen if you use these tips.
How to Reverse Screen Time Effects
qEEG Brain Map
Brain Mapping shows you how your brain is performing. It is like an x-ray of brain performance. Once you see your operating mode, if you will, you can make even better decisions on how screens are impacting you and most likely it will increase your urgency to scale back screen time use. Let me tell you how and if you want to read more visit my blog post on what information a qEEG Brain Map gives you.
If you have ADHD or anxiety in the first place. Screen time is even worse for you than a person with optimal brain performance. ADHD is a brain that is running too slow. This is the bio-marker of ADHD, too much Theta slow brain speed. Here you can read it as a “tired” brain for sake of ease in this conversation.
If you struggle with anxiety, your brain is running too fast. It is using too much High Beta extra fast speed. Read, “wired”. Thus, in both of these patterns, the brain is already running in the mode that electronic screen time would increase. Therefore, your starting point is higher than average. This means screen time will have a larger impact on your brain even faster.
When you have a qEEG Brain Map performed, you can see how your brain is running and thus can make better decisions for yourself from an informed standpoint.
How does Neurofeedback Help ADHD and Anxiety and combat screen time?
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about Neurofeedback, and how it works, as I think it is one the most amazing creations on Earth, right up there next to indoor plumbing, mandatory education for my five children, and Chardonnay.
When it comes to screen time use, Neurofeedback can decrease the use of the slow and fast speeds that are high-jacking your brain’s performance and thus, reduce the effects of screen time. Neurofeedback teaches the brain to make more of perfect processing speed for calm-focus and reduces the production of slow and fast speeds. When the brain performs better, so does the mind and body. Neurofeedback can help people act and feel more focused, relaxed, and productive. Now you see why it is a close second to the other luxuries mentioned above.
So, use the tips to #controlyourbrainoritwillcontrolyou
If you are struggling with Anxiety or ADHD and feel like you need help gaining control of your brain please visit our office’s website at Leigh Brain & Spine. The hubs, Dr. Cosmas Leigh, and I want to help you reach you full potential and become the best, happiest, calmest, most focused version of yourself today.
Want to Know More? Watch my webinar on Screen Time Effects on Attention and Anxiety. Enjoy!