SHARE
COPY LINK

SOCIAL MEDIA

Opinion: Stop looking at your mobile phone while you’re on vacation

The whole point of going on vacation is to forget about everyday life and work, so maybe it's time to put your mobile phone down for a period, author and therapist Patrik Wincent writes.

Opinion: Stop looking at your mobile phone while you're on vacation
A relaxing vacation...Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

It's vacation time! A few days ago you cleared everything out of the office, sent your last e-mail, cleaned the desk and said farewell to your colleagues. Now you’ve started your holiday, perhaps with your feet in the sand and a favourite drink in hand.

Suddenly you hear your telephone vibrate, it’s a new e-mail from your boss, and a couple of messages from your colleagues appear soon after – ding, ding.

The mobile vibrates again and notifications from social media call out to you hypnotically – informing you that there’s a bunch of new likes, hearts, and messages on your phone.

Your kids tug at your because they want to play with you in the pool, but you’re too busy answering your e-mails.

READ ALSO: Why Stockholm smartphone zombies are the worst in Europe

Before you know it your holiday has transformed into a stress-filled experience.

A study carried out by Travelbag shows that employees think about work-related matters at least 15 minutes per day during their holiday. Of the 2,000 who participated in the study, 29 percent said their vacation was more stressful than relaxing.

Of course there are many valid reasons for not turning off your phone entirely. We have for example access to search engines, we can translate languages instantly and GPS helps us get to new areas. We benefit from many things on our mobiles that can minimize lost time and make us more efficient during our holidays.

But the biggest side effect of having our mobiles with us during vacation is the fear of missing something. FOMO – fear of missing out – is the excuse for us looking at our phones more than necessary.

Studies show that we pick up our phones 150 times per day.

We have become so accustomed to stimulation from these notifications, messages and e-mails, that we can barely cope with silence and being present in ourselves. We are no longer used to being alone with our thoughts.

Humans have a primitive instinct that makes us always want to have control of our surroundings – we have had it since the Stone Age, in order to be aware in case danger appeared.

When we now have a little device like a mobile which gives us that control, we have a tendency to pick it up all the time to see if something new has happened. After all, it has been 10 minutes since the last look – you might have missed something.

In the end the brain is overloaded with information.

READ ALSO: 'Banning mobile phones in Swedish schools is as obvious as banning smoking'

Vacations stop your from burning out and taking time off is proven to have a healing power – holidays can for example reduce the risk of heart attack among men by 30 percent (according to a study by BB Gump), and for women who take more than one semester per year, reduce the risk by more than 50 percent (according to the Framingham Heart Study). There is no better health boost that can give you those benefits.

Perhaps it’s time to let the mobile rest – is the whole point of a vacation not to get away from everyday stress, and away from all work?

This is a translation of an opinion piece by Patrik Wincent originally published in Swedish by SVT

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

OPINION & ANALYSIS

‘Chemical crayfish’: Why does the Swedish media love killjoy festive news?

It's time for this year's "kräftskivor", Swedish crayfish-eating parties! A cause for celebration? Not if the Swedish media has its way.

'Chemical crayfish': Why does the Swedish media love killjoy festive news?

Sweden’s main newswire this week ran a story warning that an analysis of the eight brands of Swedish crayfish available in the country’s supermarkets contained elevated levels of PFAS, a persistent pollutant which can damage your liver and kidneys, disrupt your hormones, and even cause cancer. 

But don’t worry. If you weigh 70kg or more, you can still safely eat as many as six of the outsized prawn-like crustaceans a week without being in the risk zone. 

While I’m sure the news story, which was covered by pretty much every paper, is accurate, it is also part of a grand Swedish media tradition: running miserable, killjoy news stories whenever there’s a sign that people might be planning to have a bit of festive fun. 

The two public service broadcasters, Swedish Radio (SR) and Swedish Television (SVT) are by far the worst offenders, their reporters unusually skilled at finding a downbeat, depressing angle for every public celebration. 

To give readers a sense of the genre, we’ve spent half an hour or so searching through the archives. 

‘This is how dangerous your Christmas tree is’ (and other yuletide cheer)

Source: Screenshot/SR

Christmas is a time for good food, drinking a little too much, and cheery decorations to ward away the winter darkness. But have you considered the risks?

SR has.

In “This is how dangerous your Christmas tree is”, a local reporter in Kronoberg looked into the possibility that your tree might have been sprayed with pesticide, or if not, might be covered in pests you will then bring into your house. 

But the most common recurring story reflect Sweden’s longstanding guilt-loaded relationship with alcohol. 

You might enjoy a few drinks at Christmas, but what about the trauma you are inflicting on your children?

In this typically festive report from SVT in Uppsala, a doctor asks, ‘why wait for the New Year to give up alcohol? Why not start before Christmas?’, while the reporter notes that according to the children’s rights charity BRIS, one in five children in Sweden has a parent with an alcohol problem, with many finding drunk adults both “alarming and unpleasant”. 

God Jul! 

The Swedish media finds ways to make you feel guilty about the food you eat at Christmas too. You might enjoy a slap-up Christmas dinner, but what about those who suffer from an eating disorder? SVT asked in this important, but less than cheery, story published in the run-up to the big day. “This is the worst time of the year,” Johanna Ahlsten, who suffered from an eating disorder for ten years, told the reporter. 

Don’t you just love a cosy Christmas fire? Well, perhaps you shouldn’t. A seasonal favourite in Sweden’s media is to run warnings from the local fire services on the risk of Christmas house fires. Here’s some advice from SVT in Blekinge on how to avoid burning your house down. 
 
Those Christmas lights. So mysigt. But have you ever added up how much those decorations might be adding to your electricity bill? SVT has. Read about it all here
 
Finally, isn’t it wonderful that people in Sweden get the chance to go and visit their relatives and loved ones over Christmas.
 
Well, it’s wonderful if you’re a burglar! Here’s SVT Jämtland on the risk of house break-ins over the Christmas period. 
 
Eat cheese to protect your teeth! and other Easter advice 
 
 
“Eat cheese after soda”. Good advice from Swedish Radio. Photo: Screenshot/Richard Orange
 
For the Swedish media, Easter is a fantastic opportunity to roll out all the same stories about the risks of open fires and alcohol abuse, and that they do. But the Easter celebration has an additional thing to be worried about: excess consumption of chocolate and sweets. 
 
Here’s Swedish Radio, with a helpful piece of advice to protect your teeth from all that sugary ‘påskmust’, Sweden’s Easter soft drink. “Eat cheese!”. 
 
Yes, you and your children might enjoy eating all those pick-and-mix sweets packed into a decorated cardboard egg, but have you thought who else has had their grubby hands on them? SVT has. In this less than joyous Easter article  a reporter gives viewers the lowdown on “how hygienic are pick-and-mix sweets?” (According to the doctor they interview, sugar acts as an antibacterial agent, so they are in fact less dangerous than the newsroom probably hoped). 
 
Perhaps though, it’s better to avoid those unhealthy sweets altogether, and instead cram your mouth with healthy raw food alternatives, as SVT advises in this Easter report
 
Aren’t daffodils lovely? Well they’re not if you’re a dog. They’re deadly, according to this Easter report from Swedish Radio on all the “dangers lurking for pets over Easter“.
 
Glad Påsk!
 
Midsommar drowning  
 
Midsommar, again, has all the same possibilities for worried articles about excess drinking etc, but in the summer there’s the added risk of drowning. 
 
From Midsummer until the start of August, the temp reporters who take over Sweden’s newsrooms as everyone else goes on their summer holidays churn out a steady stream of drowning stories, all of them with a slightly censorious tone. After all, most of these accidents are really about excess drinking.
 
Here’s SVT Västmanland tallying up the Midsummer weekend’s death toll in a typical story of Midsommar misery. 
 
So, what is the reason for the Swedish media’s taste for removing as much mirth from festivities as possible?
 
It’s partly because Sweden’s media, unlike that of many other countries, sees its public information role as at least as important as entertaining or interesting readers, so an editor is likely to choose a potentially useful story over a heart-warming one. 
 
This is the aspect of the Swedish media beautifully captured by the singer Lou Reed when talking about how he’s more scared in Sweden than in New York in the film Blue in the Face
 
“You turn on the TV, there’s an ear operation. These things scare me. New York, no.” 
 
But it is also reflects the puritanical streak that runs straight through Swedish society, leading to a powerful temperance movement, which meant that by 1908, a staggering 85 percent of Socialist parliamentarians in Sweden were teetotallers.
Sweden is now a liberal country where you can get good food and drink, and enjoy a decent nightlife, but sometimes that old puritanism bubbles up.
SHOW COMMENTS