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Stress less and relax more

How to out-smart your stress-inducing smartphone

With your does-it-all smartphone, you'll never miss a call, text, email, social update, video or anything else that can be beamed into that nifty little device. But is that such a great thing? Your smartphone can increase stress levels — yours, and that of others affected by your always-on habit.

So take a tech break by reading these tips on how to reduce your smartphone use and the stress it creates at social functions, on the job, at home and in public settings.

Out in public
  • Quiet, please. Just about anywhere in public — on buses, in stores or restaurants, even while waiting for take-off — we've all encountered a smartphone user who broadcasts their side of a conversation. While that can sometimes be entertaining, it can get annoying and stressful, especially when you're trying to have your own conversation or finally read that bestseller. What to do when your phone rings in a public setting? Try speaking as quietly as possible and keep the call short.
  • Eliminate line up stress. Nobody likes waiting in a long line. And long lines feel even longer when someone is so focussed on their smartphone that they forget their coffee order and hold up the line even more. Multi-tasking is not efficient when you have someone with the need for caffeine behind you.
  • Don't add to the soundtrack. The jury is back with their verdict and suddenly…ring! You already know that a ringing smartphone during a movie is irritating but did you know that the glare of the screen and the digital noises of texting, emailing and gaming are just as annoying? Solution: Turn your phone off — completely — and concentrate on the mystery (or your popcorn) instead.
  • Watch your step. If you walk and text, email or play with an addictive app, you could be sending others scrambling to avoid bumping into you. One chance meeting with another smartphone addict and — bam — another person-to-person collision. Don't become another embarrassing statistic; remember to pay attention to where you're going or "pull over" to use your smartphone.
At social functions
  • Don't disrupt the gathering. Of course, your smartphone should be off while attending a wedding, funeral or religious service. That's a given. But if you're at a gathering and absolutely just can't miss a call or a text, put your phone on vibrate. Then when you feel that telltale shake, excuse yourself at an appropriate time (for example, after the "I dos"), find somewhere private and keep it short.
  • Disconnect to connect with family and friends. More informal special events (birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, holiday gatherings) are face-to-face time so leave your phone alone. Not only might you upset your hosts and others, you also might start a chain reaction! And nothing is less social than a table of smartphone users madly using their thumbs under the table.

On the job
  • Never text or email during meetings. Sure, it's distracting for others, but smartphone use during a meeting can also crank up the overall stress level in the room. If you're running the meeting, take a moment to remind everyone to turn off phones before starting.
  • Not that ring tone! You're on a stressful phone call when you (and your client) hear Lady Gaga blasting from a nearby desk. If you're in the type of office where mini-dance parties aren't appropriate, it's best to choose a subtler ring tone and save the fun stuff for when you're not at work. Oh, and remember to keep the ringer volume down. That way, you won't annoy your coworkers — especially the ones who prefer Frank Sinatra.
  • Forget 24/7. Smartphones are a workaholic's best friend, aren't they? But while you may have put your work-life balance on hold, don't assume your business colleagues are round-the-clock smartphone addicts. Show your co-workers some respect by knowing their preferences regarding business calls outside of the usual office hours.
Off the clock
  • Relax. The world won't end if you don't check your smartphone every evening, throughout the weekend and while on vacation. Things can wait. Restrict your home smartphone use to just when it's really necessary.
  • Book downtime and make it stick. You need downtime time to relax, de-stress, unwind and enjoy life. So plan and prioritize regular "no contact periods" and block that time out in your smartphone's calendar. Then turn it off and have fun.
Outsmart stress-inducing smartphones
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