“In 2013, Adweek reported that 80 percent of smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 44 check their phone first thing in the morning.”
Picture this… You’re fast asleep, and your phone alarm goes off. You roll over and hit that snooze button. Ten minutes later, you tap that button again, and then again. And just like that, it’s one hour later! But before you rush out of bed, you have to check your messages. Did you get a new text, email? Or maybe you need to see what the weather forecast is. Or for you news buffs out there, you have to check what today’s news saga is.
My point is that there is always going to be a reason to check your phone. In this day and age, many of us seem to have a major case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
We have come to be programmed to want information fast and at our fingertips. No wonder cases of anxiety and stress are on the rise. We want things yesterday! Most recently, I learned a valuable tip from Dr. Sayed Shah of Mandala Integrative Medicine. Dr. Shah suggests that we should keep using that old school alarm clock and keep it far away from the bed. This will in fact force you to get up with the intention of getting up.
Why using your phone for an alarm clock is a bad idea:
Studies report that after you hit snooze and drift off, your brain starts its sleep cycle all over again. When the alarm goes off a second time, you’re likely at an even deeper, earlier part of your sleep cycle, which results in you feeling even worse than you did the first time.
So if you find yourself feeling groggy whenever you wake up, you may want to try getting on a regular sleep schedule and setting up a realistic wake up time for yourself.
Dr. Shah also suggests that your cell phone should not be the first thing that you look at before bed and not the first thing that you look at in the morning. Shah describes, “Smart phone devices as well as tablets contain a blue light …The blue light at night can lower the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and disrupt your circadian rhythm.”
According to Dr. Shah, “Immediately turning to your phone when you wake up can start your day off in a way that is more likely to increase stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed. The information overload that hits you before you’re fully awake also interferes with your ability to prioritize tasks. It’s almost as if you’re sabotaging your day before it even has a chance to begin.”
Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at a digital screen, whether it’s the computer at work, our personal cell phone, playing a video game, or just relaxing and watching TV. And now our children have access to the same. We hear that’s it’s not good for our kids to be having so much screen time, and the research definitely supports why.
How Serious Is The Blue Light On Our Mobile Devices?
In a recent study, Harvard researchers have linked working the night shift and exposure to blue light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and an increased risk for depression.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why exposure to blue light at night seems to have such detrimental effects on our health, but it is known that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin and lower melatonin levels might explain the association with these types of health problems.
I know from my own personal experience that I am noticing my own vision becoming blurry. However, when I went to my eye doctors, my vision was almost 20/20. How is this so? There is something described as digital eyestrain. This is a new term used to describe the conditions resulting from the use of today’s popular electronic gadgets.
Digital eyestrain is a medical issue with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity. Symptoms of digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches, and neck and back pain.
Digital eyestrain has overtaken carpal-tunnel syndrome as the number one computer-related complaint. 
I need more hours in the day…Does this sound familiar?
You’re running late to work because you were caught up on your phone. It’s time to GO! You quickly get ready and grab something you can eat in the car, and out the door you go. When you reach the office, you notice that you are still yawning. So what do you do? You grab the morning cup of coffee. (Or perhaps you already did that at home, so now you’re on your second cup.) You feel energize and wired, ready to take on your emails. You power through ten emails, and then you notice that you start slowing down after an hour or so. You take a look at the time (which is also on your phone), then notice a few text messages, which you decide to respond to. Your friend or loved one mentions something that they saw on social media, so right away you jump on Facebook to see what he/she is talking about. Once you are on social media, you get caught up in that post from your old high school friend who just had a baby. You click that “like” button, which then takes you to stalking her page and liking her previous posts. And before you know it, another 25 to 30 minutes have passed you by. Oh wait, what were you working on again? You forget…. Then you look at your phone once again to check the time and notice that it’s almost lunchtime. What are you going to eat? Are you going to order in? Run an errand? Or grab lunch with your co-worker? There goes another 10 minutes making plans, figuring out what you’re going to do.
My point is, how much work are you really getting done at work? And if you are a stay-at-home mom, how much are you accomplishing throughout your day? Hey, I get it. I do not work from home, but I do have a two-year-old who keeps me going on my daily adventure. I have a full time job in which I work with my husband, so there’s always work dialogue and home dialogues throughout the day. And before you know it, POOF! There goes your day.
So here’s the reality. It’s hard to go from your transactional, shallow part of your brain, the frontal cortex, to the other parts of your brain where strategy happens and relationships happen.
It’s easier to start in the deep recesses of your brain and go to the shallow parts.
What’s scary is that when you are scanning your emails, jumping on and off of social media and checking your notifications, your mind starts to go all over the place. And if you are doing this when you wake up, and it can leave you feeling directionless and overwhelmed as you move forward with your day.
“Well, it’s nearly time for bed, so I guess I’ll just check my Instagram, Email, Facebook, and one full season of a Netflix series real quick.”
Relationships & Connection:
In recent studies it has been reported that people have their phone on them all but just two hours out of the entire day. Plus, many of the people surveyed said they feel more “connectedness” as a result of using their phone so much.
Without even realizing it, many of us turn to our phones for connection. What happens if you receive bad news, or if you are in an argument with a loved one or spouse? Many of us turn to our phones wanting to avoid conflict. “I’ll deal with it later” Is the common response. Rather than addressing the issue in the moment, many of us jump onto social media or our emails without even realizing it. Our brains have become programmed to go straight to our devices, rather than speaking and going towards the conflict. We have become a society which texts rather than talks on the phone. Then what happens?We start to see all of the great photos and happy moments that our friends and family have posted on social media. Or we see the horrific news that shows up on our newsfeed that leaves us feeling sad, hopeless, and not very powerful. This certainly can influence your thoughts and your mood for your day.
The interesting thing about jumping onto your phone, it’s like dopamine. You get that rush when you receive a “Like,” or a response. You feel seen and heard in that instant. However, 20 seconds later, you need to fill up that void again with another “Like” or notification. You continue to look for happiness online rather than connecting with your loved one who is sitting next to you that you are still mad at. As a life and relationship coach, this is something that I regularly see. We all want to know that we matter. Rather than hiding behind a technical device, or by using food to numb our deep desires, it is important to have those tough conversations. If we are not having these conversations at home, then we are certainly not having them at work. This leaves us not feeling very nourished or satisfied in our daily lives.
But wait! How do I break the cycle? There’s still hope for you!! In each moment you get to have a redo. Start in baby steps. You don’t have to go big or go home.
According to author Joe Dispenza, of the book Evolve Your Brain, “The frontal lobe is a doorway we must enter if we choose to break the cycle of repetitive thinking and feeling, feeling and thinking.” 
So what exactly does this mean? Our brain is designed to create, build, and want more. But what happens when we stop?
- We become lazy, lethargic, and uninspired.
- We desire sameness or routine.
- We have difficulty focusing on single-minded tasks; we start projects or wishlists such as a new diet or exercise routine, and never follow through.
- We hardly ever learn anything new from a situation; rather than creating a different outcome for ourselves, we stay the same and continue to create the same situations.
- We have emotional outbursts when our routine is disrupted.
- We do not make any future plans, and go “with the flow.
Here are some morning tips that I give my coaching clients, and they have worked for them:
- Start off your day off with a 10 to 15 minute guided meditation. If you are not familiar with meditation, that’s OK. There is no right way or wrong way to meditate. Focus on one thing, whether it’s a sound or a light. If a thought comes your way, release the thought and bring your attention back to the sound or the light you were focusing on. This is YOUR experience.
- Yoga / Stretch / or Walking. Get connected to your body. Play some relaxing music, make some hot tea or coffee for yourself, and start the day by focusing on you, and doing something you care about.
- Spend 10 to 15 minutes writing down all of the things that make you happy. What brings you joy? What are the things that you like about yourself? You know the saying… “You get what you focus on.” Focus on all of the good and juicy pieces of YOU!
“Neuroscience research has shown that our attention density – that is, what we put our attention on consistently – is what shapes our brains, shapes our reality, and guides how we create who we are and the world we see.” 
- Daily Intention. Ask yourself what you would like to accomplish today. And create a realistic list for yourself. Or maybe you can start your day working on the project or work assignment you normally don’t have time for. Your mind is the most creative, and at its best first thing in the morning.
- Am I feeling satisfied? If you notice yourself going online to social media or wanting to shop online, ask yourself what you are feeling in that moment what just happened. This will bring you back to yourself. Back to connecting with yourself and what you may be wanting and missing in that moment.
Have questions? Or would like to schedule a free coaching consultation with me? Contact my office at (833) 488-9355.
**Rumaisa Khawaja – Life & Relationship Coach at Mandala Integrative Medicine.
 Joe Dispenza, Evolve Your Brain, Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, FL. Pg. 380
 Dr. Judith Wright and Dr. Bob Wright, Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living, Nashville: Turner Publishing Company, 2013, Pg. 237.