Woman sitting by the window looking anxiously at her phone
Mental Health

How turning your phone notifications off could help you deal with overwhelm and FOMO

Could turning off your phone notifications help you feel less overwhelmed? This Twitter thread makes the case for abandoning push notifications…

It’s 12pm on a Wednesday and I’ve already had 115 push notifications on my phone today. If my past screen time habits are anything to go by, that number will have at least doubled by the end of the day. It feels like a huge amount but checking my phone for notifications is a very regular part of my daily routine.

It’s a well-known fact that most of us are probably spending too much time on our phones. In the UK, it’s estimated that, on average, we’re spending 50 days per year scrolling.

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I’ve tried digital detoxes, screen time limits and locking my phone in the kitchen drawer to try and kick what I can pretty confidently call an addiction to my phone – but it’s all been unsuccessful. But I had never considered that push notifications could be the reason my screen time is so high – I also didn’t realise how many of them I was receiving – until I came across a Twitter thread made by someone who decided to turn her phone notifications off for good. 

“About 6 months ago, I turned off every single notification on my phone. Nothing lights up my screen now.” tweeted @Lauren9Dudley.

In the thread, she explains all the ways in which abandoning notifications have benefitted her life, personally and professionally

She explains that she never gets distracted by her phone at work or in her personal life, which has helped her to be more present and focused. 

The biggest concern most people might have about turning their push notifications off is that they’d miss something important – a message from a loved one or a colleague. But for Dudley, this hasn’t been a problem.

“I never miss anything. I used to think I’d miss urgent things or stress about a situation unfolding without my input. Doesn’t happen. When it’s urgent, they’ll call. But, trust me, they rarely ever call.”

Smartphones have a lot to answer for when it comes to our collective fear of missing out, as research shows that social media can trigger FOMO. Could turning off our phone notifications really be the answer to dealing with these feelings?

Dudley explains in the thread that turning off notifications has helped her to create healthy boundaries within her life more generally. “People have learnt better boundaries with me. Friends whatsapp me whenever and know I’ll reply when I want to. Clients rarely whatsapp me and when they do (esp out of hours), I treat it like an email. I’ll reply when I can and when I’m working.”

She explains that this has helped her deal with feelings of overwhelm which has been “a massive contributor to my healthier state of mind”.

“This notion that we as a society should be on ALL THE TIME is ridiculous. It’s unhealthy.” she continues. “You do not need to apologise for not being attentive to everyone all the time. You also don’t need to not reply just because you’re actively busy - you can be being very proactively NOT busy, that’s the point.”

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So maybe turning off our phone notifications could help us manage more than one of our social media woes. If this Twitter thread is anything to go by, it’s certainly worth a try.

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