When you google ‘do not disturb,’ the entire first page of the search results have solutions related to putting DND on your phone. And the second page. And the third page. Gone are the days of associating do not disturb with cute little hotel door hangers. We have entered into a world that our ‘disturbance’ is coming from our phones.
It’s equal parts alarming and humorous. Humorous because we are the owners of our little phones and we control the phones and we use them, scroll for hours on them, conform to those pesky notifications, we do all the things on them. Nobody is forcing us. Thus, we have nobody to blame besides…gasp…ourselves.
Don’t worry, this is not an article to shame you or remind you about how bad our addictions are. There’s plenty of those, I need not regurgitate what already exists. Instead, I want to share something I have done that has decreased disturbance in my life.
Are you ready?
It’s pretty groundbreaking you guys.
I turned off every single notification on my phone. (and the crowd silences…)
And I have taken back control of my life PRAISE THE LORD!
If you are like me, you have text message notifications, Whatsapp notifications, Instagram notifications, Pinterest notifications, email notifications, Facebook notifications, phone call notifications. Not to mention work-specific notifications from apps like Basecamp and Slack. And personal apps like Chase, Nike Running Club and Waze. Oh and the 15 random ones your kid downloaded. Let’s put it this way – if you have 50 apps on your phone you arguably could get daily notifications (ahem disturbances) – even multiple per app – totaling 50 – 100 (conservatively) times. (and the crowd silences again…)
Okay stick with me here. Let’s unpack the definition of disturb. According to Merriam-Webster, disturb means to:
- destroy the tranquility or composure of
- throw into disorder
- put to inconvenience
These notifications, these alerts, these disturbances, they are causing anxiety and distracting us from our lives. From our kids. From our work.
Inherently, the context or content of the notification may not be bad or alarming or inconvenient. It is the notification itself that is the issue. According to the Daily Mail:
- Every time your smartphone bleeps with a new notification, it is changing the chemistry inside your brain, scientists warn.
- Constant interruptions from new emails, text messages and Facebook comments trigger high levels of ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, which can have damaging effects.
- Too much of this hormone can leave you feeling anxious, with an increased heart rate, tense muscles and clammy palms.
- Scientists also warn that constant notifications can distract you so much that productivity can drop by as much as 40 per cent without you knowing.
But there is good news.
And over two months ago when I turned every single notification off, my anxiety decreased. My focus increased. Stress decreased. My brain literally is better. I changed my habits and now, I proactively go in to each app 1-2 times a day (depending on the app) to check my notifications so my notifications stopped checking me.
It has made all the difference. Truly. And yes, there have been times I have missed something or was late responding to something (especially in the beginning), but guess what? THE WORLD CONTINUED ONWARD! Amazing, right? I guess I am not that important. But the upside has far outweighed the downside. Throughout my day, I don’t get interruptions that cause me anxiety. Because every single time a notification comes through, your body and mind have a reaction to it. And it can throw you off sometimes for an hour or longer, making it that much harder to get back to what you are doing or to maintain peace and contentment in your days.
So here is my summer challenge for you – do not disturb. Or rather, do not BE disturbed. Grab your phone, change your settings (on an iPhone you just go to settings and then notifications) and test it out for at least a month. Create some new habits. Decrease those interferences and stay focused on what matters most – your family, your kids, that project you are working on, driving safely, that writing assignment, that church sermon, quality time with friends, whatever it is for you.
You can do it. I believe in you! And, you MAY just have that much better of a summer because of it.