A small study found that mobile phone users receive an average of 63.5 alerts every day. Worst of all, most of these notifications are viewed in minutes whether the phone is on silent or not. Another study found that people check their phones as much as 47 times per day, often in response to alerts. This can get quite overwhelming after some time and make life stressful.
Notifications also affect your focus and performance at work. Not only that but in all aspects of your life. Moreover, it can take quite a toll on your mental health. If you’re constantly reaching for your phone every time it pings, then it may be time to address this issue.
Let’s get into why most people pause notifications for mental health and why you should too.
Why do people silence notifications?
People choose to silence apps and notifications for different reasons. Here are some reasons why you should too:
You’ll start your day less anxious
Without notifications, you can start your day without a sense of dread. You will feel calmer knowing that you’re not allowing outside forces to dictate your mood.
It redirects your behavior
You can reclaim your time and how you spend it. Instead of being in a near-constant reactive mode, you can decide when and how to engage with others.
You’ll have more time to do deep work
Learn to protect your time. Turn notifications off when you need to work on complex or challenging projects. You’ll find that you’ll have time to immerse yourself fully during this period.
You’ll be less busy and more productive
Being busy does not equal being productive. Without constantly having to scroll through notifications, you’ll free up lots of time. This will give you the time to do the things that matter most.
You’ll be more present for others
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and heard a notification come in? The temptation to check is far too great. Even if you don’t check it, your attention is already compromised. You’ll be thinking about checking your phone notifications rather than listening. When notifications are off, you’ll be more present when having conversations with others.
You’ll be reminded of what’s urgent and important
When notifications keep blowing up your phone, you may get overwhelmed. You may feel like you need to answer every message right away. It’s amazing what falls away when you turn them off.
Everything does not require an immediate response. You’ll find that things you’ve given importance to before aren’t as important as you thought. For example, certain apps like Facebook and Instagram do not require your immediate attention. Push notifications from family or friend group chats on Whatsapp or social media apps can wait. This is unless your work heavily involves social media. If it does, check out the ultimate guide to social media marketing.
How to tell when it’s time to turn notifications off
Some telltale signs let you know when it’s time to turn notifications off. These include:
- The irresistible urge to check your phone every time it dings or check it every 5 minutes.
- Getting annoyed or frustrated when you hear notifications coming in
- Checking your phone first thing in the morning while still in bed
- Noticing an increase in anxiety or depression symptoms or stress levels
- Not getting enough sleep or having trouble falling and staying asleep
- Constantly checking your phone when you’re with people or performing other activities.
- Losing focus and missing deadlines
- Spending too much time on social media and worrying that your life doesn’t match up with others
Ways to manage notifications for better mental health
1. Delete( almost)everything
If you want to kill the anxiety of endless alerts, delete unnecessary apps. If not, at least turn notifications off. Go to settings on your phone or computer and turn those app notifications off.
You will need to be ruthless when doing this. Do you really need your news app to send you alerts every minute of the day? Chances are no, you don’t.
Another thing you can try is to manage notifications as they come in. When you hold down each pushed message a menu usually pops up. This allows you to block further notifications or choose for them to arrive silently.
2. Cut off social media
It’s time to be honest with yourself. Not all notifications are about work. Most of us have notifications from our social media apps turned on. This can be distracting and before you know it, you can end up scrolling aimlessly for hours.
There are some obvious things you can do to combat this. If you comment on a popular post on Facebook, you can turn off notifications for that post. Instagram gives you similar options to mute alerts for certain posts. They also allow you to turn them off altogether if you want. Twitter also gives you the option to turn alerts off. You can choose not to get alerts from people you don’t follow or those that don’t follow you.
Cutting off social media notifications can be hard. If you’re finding it really difficult, start small. Try altering notification filter settings before deciding to turn all notifications off. On the other hand, you can try batching notifications. Researchers found that batching notifications can improve your well-being.
3. Do not disturb
The Do Not Disturb feature is there on your phone for a reason. It’s not there to help with sleep alone. It is a great tool for blocking calls and notifications when your job requires your full attention.
This feature allows you to stay in control by giving you options. You can always set it to turn off after a set period of time. It even allows you to “star” contacts that you want to hear from. This way you can receive calls from those you want to hear from while other calls will be blocked.
4. Organize and use badge notifications
An app grabs your attention in one of three ways. The first is obviously the sound. The second is a banner message at the top of the screen. The third is a badge. Oftentimes, we allow them on our phones and computers without thinking too hard about the right settings.
A badge is the best option to avoid distractions. There is no sound so you won’t hear it come in and rush to pick up your phone. A badge usually appears as a number on the top right-hand corner of the app icon. You’ll only see the badge when you pick up your phone.
To make things easier you should organize important apps on your home screen. This way you don’t have to scroll around looking to see if you have notifications. You’ll see them right off the bat.
5. Mute your colleagues
Productivity tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams are great. However, they do have a few downsides. These instant messenger-based productivity tools can make things worse for you. If you’re part of the team, you may receive notifications that have nothing to do with you.
Fortunately, you can pause notifications in these tools whenever you need to. They all include several options to choose from. These vary but you can choose which conversations to mark as important and which can be muted. You can also switch off notifications for a certain period to get work done, etc.
6. Set emails to your rhythm
Managing your emails is an easy way to cut down on constant notifications. Refreshing emails every few minutes can be tedious. Instead, go into the send/receive setting and choose a set time for emails to refresh.
It is recommended you take a ten-minute break from your computer every hour. So choose to receive messages once every hour for every 45 or 50-minute session in front of your computer
However, some people choose to receive emails every half hour. This allows them to work for 25 minutes before they look at and respond to emails. You can try either setting. However, remember if you’re expecting an important email, you can always manually refresh and check.
7. Go gray
Former Google exec Tristan Harris says apps on phones are purposely designed to be habit-forming. He further stated that he has a simple way of combating phone addiction. He uses the grayscale feature on his phone.
Selecting the grayscale feature makes apps look less appealing. Even the badges on apps are less eye-catching. This can lead to you checking your phone less.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by constant notifications, it may be the best time to turn them off. Staying connected comes with a range of benefits, but it can also have negative effects. Research suggests that a social media break can have positive effects on your mental well-being.
Managing notifications properly include benefits like reduced levels of anxiety and stress. You’ll also be able to focus better, sleep better and have good real relationships with others. You should also consider speaking with a healthcare professional if you’re struggling with your mental health.