iPhone and chill: Six sensational stress reducers!

Stress is something we all have to deal with. Left unchecked, it can slowly deteriorate our health and wellbeing. As a psychotherapist who specializes in dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression, and someone in the technology industry, I've been able to see how gadgets like the iPhone 7 can both help and hurt us when it comes to handling stress. Obviously, you want to avoid the ones that hurt and maximize the ones that help. So let's take a look at how your iPhone can help you better manage your stress and live a calmer and more peaceful life!

1. Sounds of silence

A single notification can be a helpful alert or reminder. Dozens of notifications are more often a stressful interruption. It's hard to imagine how much impact all those bells and buzzes have on your stress level until you turn them off.

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Then, once the tether is broken, you can start to relax. Sure, there may be a few people or things you really need audible notifications for, but those are also the very things getting drowned out in a flood of pings and pops.

When you silence notifications, you can still glance at your Lock screen or Notification Center and see what's come in, but you can do it on your own time. Maybe more often at first, because FOMO (fear of missing out), but over time you'll relax.

I have gone even more extreme: I have turned off all ringing and vibrations on my iPhone, including the Phone app. I do leave a few on on my Apple Watch, which will give me a gentle tap and I can check to see if something really is urgent. Those are few and far between, though, and I'm much calmer and more relaxed.

Don't oversleep, forget to turn in an assignment, or ignore anything vital for your family, but don't be beholden to constant notification overload, either.

2. iPhone assisted memory

Once you eliminate the flood of notifications, you can really benefit from the few that remain. For example, let Calendars and Reminders remember the important events and to-dos in your life. If it's your special someone's birthday, don't just leave the birthday reminder. Set up one to remind you to shop a few days in advance as well. Same with packing for a trip. It takes a small amount of thought and organization before hand, but once it's set up, it lets you offload a lot of busy work from your brain to your iPhone.

3. On the Night Shift

iOS includes a feature called Night Shift. It changes the color temperature of your iPhone's display from colder (blue) to warmer (yellow) as dusk approaches. If you want the longer, more scientific explanation for how it works, you can read my Night Shift explainer. tl;dr: It will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep better.

4. Journal

Journaling is a great way to take whatever is burdening your thoughts and put it down on the page — that way your brain knows it's recorded and can stop stressing about it. Journaling helps by giving your feelings and frustrations a place to exist outside yourself. It allows you to look at things more analytically. Often when you look back, things usually aren't as bad as you thought. You can also more effectively strategise different ways to deal with your problems and stresses.

For those reasons, journaling works way better on paper than it does on your iPhone, but if you don't have paper, your iPhone is way, way better than nothing.

5. Soothe the savage beast

Music really can affect the way you feel. I have different playlists depending on my mood. I have one for when I want to relax, one for when I am training, and even one for when I am feeling really sad. Music can help you discover and express pent up emotions and that can release a lot of stress. If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can even have Siri play almost anything you want, any time you want.

If music isn't your thing, your iPhone can also play audio books or podcasts, and with accessibility settings, it can even read passages of text to you. If listening to the spoken word helps you relax, great! If not, and multitasking by listening can save you time, that'll also save you stress.

6. Take a time-out

The iPhone is great, but making it easy for you to check social media, messages, read the web, and otherwise stay mentally busy all the time, everywhere, is not so great. It leaves you with no time to decompress.

That's why you should use the built-in Do Not Disturb feature at night, and make sure you take breaks during the day. Have lunch and leave your iPhone in your pocket or bag. Watch a movie and don't look at that second screen. Go for coffee and chat with a friend, not your iPhone. Go on a date and don't even think about reaching for your iPhone!

Your iPhone de-stressers?

Are there some great techniques you use with your iPhone to help you better manage your day? Let me know! And, if you are dealing with a lot of stress or anxiety and feel that it is starting to interfere with your daily activities, please think about getting some help. Anxiety is completely treatable and there are some really good tools and techniques to help you!