I have a lot of anxiety. Just, like, mountains of it.
It made having a phone almost impossible, until I found a solution.
For years, the barrage of pings and push notifications that can come with a cell phone made my situation much worse. I would grow so irritated or upset when notifications got away from me, and I couldn’t keep up with messages or prompts.
I remember getting so frustrated that I’d purposely separate myself from my phone for hours or days at a time, unwilling to remain at the mercy of a device that constantly demanded attention that I could not give.
Periodic dings were fine. But when notifications started swarming in, it made my blood pressure rise, my breathing quicken, and I got panicked in a very uncomfortable way.
A relative-initiated group text, an overly-excited day in a necessary Facebook group, or emails coming in from sources that have decided to stop putting me off, all had the chance of upsetting me when I couldn’t respond because I was busy working on other things. Subsequent notifications exacerbated this, making me feel even worse that I couldn’t find the time.
I took deep breaths, I limited the apps that could send notifications, I muted conversations. But sometimes I still wanted to run screaming from this bleeping rectangle.
When I had a pager in 1999 (I was 17, leave me alone), it was always on my time to call friends back. Current notifications feel immediate to me, the power to respond immediately means that I MUST respond immediately. And as the vibrations buzzed and the dings donged, I only sank deeper into frustration and panic.
I needed to figure something out.
I did all of the obvious stuff: I took deep breaths, I limited the apps that could send push notifications, I muted conversations. But I still sometimes wanted to run screaming from this bleeping rectangle.
So I started periodically putting my phone on Do Not Disturb mode. Ya know, that little moon icon, where nothing, and I mean nothing, makes your phone buzz? It didn’t take long before I went Do Not Disturb almost all of the time.
Honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
I now feel like I am in control of my phone, versus the other way around.
Using Do Not Disturb allows me to be the one to poke. “Anything for me? Nope? Cool, see ya later, dummy.” You may worry that I’ll miss something important, but my busy mind makes me check the damn thing ever few minutes. I’m constantly ready to have notifications, just on my own time. (My desktop notifications are a different story; during the work day, my screens are a flurry of information.) And when I do lose track of my phone, distracted by time with friends or zoning out with a book, isn’t that for the best?
Plus, on the iPhone, you can allow people to cut through the DND firewall. So, if mom or your SO needs you to not Do Not Disturb them please, then you totally can.
I’m very relieved to have found a way for me and my phone to get along and work together.
It’s truly taken a weight off of my shoulders and for so little cost. At this point, I’ve done it for years. Now friends and family understand that I may not immediately respond, but they know I’ll get back to them eventually. I haven’t yet experienced any drawback to living life this way. *Knocks on wood*
Of course, I absolutely recognize that I am still in a very privileged situation to be able to do this. If I had children or had to take care of someone, this lifestyle I’ve carved out would not work so well. Whenever my life takes a turn, I’ll turn with it.
But for right now, I’m very relieved to have found a way for me and my phone to get along and work together. It’s made me calmer and more productive, and all I had to press was one button on the iPhone’s Control Center.