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

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

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

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