When cellphone use becomes emotionally unhealthy

Posted by Karen Degen on 4th September 2018

Tags: cellphone addiction, cellphone in pool, cellphone mental health

On a recent trip to USA we were lying by the swimming pool of our hotel and I saw a couple of people who I initially thought might be special needs (intellectually disabled).  The reason I thought that is, even though they were in the pool, they had a plastic-covered item around their neck. I thought this must be their name and contact details in case they got lost, something the intellectually disabled commonly wear.  Then I saw something that made me realise I had got it completely wrong.  They were in fact ordinary people, with their cellphones in a waterproof case around their necks. They were using their cellphones in the pool!  I was shocked.  It seems to me that using your cellphone in the pool indicates a very unhealthy connection to it.  It also indicates that they can’t relax, or enjoy life without ‘doing’ something, whether with their hands or, more importantly, their mind.  Constant use of a cellphone is a way of keeping our mind busy.  When our mind is busy we aren’t giving ourselves time to think or feel.  This is my definition of an addiction.  Something that we use or do that distracts us from thoughts and feelings we don’t want to have.  So many things block out those thoughts and feelings wonderfully well, such as alcohol, drugs, smoking and comfort eating.  One activity people don’t often put in the addiction category is overworking or keeping busy.  Constant use of a cellphone is definitely keeping busy.  When we have feelings we don’t want to feel and thoughts we don’t want to think, the answer is not to distract ourselves from them or to block them out.  This only pushes them down and they lie, unresolved, until something triggers their release at a later date.  If you are someone who keeps busy (including mentally) I suggest giving yourself a few hours to do nothing.  Nothing!  Just sit, or take a gentle stroll, and allow yourself to think and feel.  No reading, no talking, just ‘be’.  If this thought scares you then it’s a sure sign that your emotional health could use a little work.  If you need help with that contact me, it’s what I do.