For many of us, our smartphones are basically a fifth limb. We bring them to the dinner table, into the bed with us, and even into the bathroom. Some people go as far as experiencing phantom vibrations, when they think their phones are ringing when they aren't or that they're receiving a text they actually aren't. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri suggests that separation from our phones may affect us both mentally and physically.
In the study, researchers had participants solve word search puzzles first, while their iPhones were in their possession and then after they had been moved farther away in the room. The researchers then called the phones so that the participants could hear them ringing, but not answer or see who was calling.
Physically, the study's participants saw increased heart rates and a rise in their blood pressure levels when they couldn't answer their ringing phones. On the mental side, participants performed much worse on the word puzzles and felt more anxious when they were separated from their phones. "The results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state," Russell Clayton, the lead author, said in a statement.
But, as we know from previous research, it may be worth it to power through the symptoms of withdrawal. From triggering "text neck" to carrying more germs than a toilet seat, there are plenty of ways your phone could be hurting both your health and your happiness. So how can you unplug? Try leaving your phone out of your bedroom and investing in an old-school alarm clock to combat insomnia. And just say "no" to texting while walking, which can knock you off balance and cause collisions. You can also work on communicating with your loved ones in person to create a happier relationship. (And check out these silly tips for a digital detox).