Smartphones are ubiquitous in the U.S. In fact, nearly 95 percent of adult Americans own a cellphone…. 240 million cellphones. Buzzing, ringing and distracting.
Heck, there’s a good chance you’re reading this on a smartphone screen.
There’s no denying that we’ve becoming increasingly reliant on our cell phones. We use them for texting, surfing the web, checking Instagram, and maybe even for the occasional phone call.
Yet, increasingly, people are saying that they’re addicted to their phones. These people aren’t just reliant on their phones for information; they’re compelled to use them incessantly.
We’ve even coined a phrase for the fear of not having a smartphone in our pocket or purse — Nomophobia. And some even go as far as calling our cell phones “digital heroin.”
But here’s why hypnosis can help cell phone addiction: The compulsion to grab and tap away at our phones is located in the mind. It’s a matter of flawed thinking — negative patterns of thought that have become ingrained over time, with each text notification, buzz and ding.
Our brains have been reprogrammed to be devoted to our phones. And that’s something hypnosis and hypnotherapy can help.
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for helping us change negative thinking patterns – the automatic thoughts that compel us to check our phones — and replace those thoughts with helpful information.
What Is Cell Phone Addiction? What Are the Symptoms?
Before we think about how cell phone addiction affects the mind, it’s helpful to define cell phone addiction and examine the signs and symptoms.
There’s a fine line from people who use their phones too much and those that are addicted. Cell phone overuse, for example, isn’t addiction. This is when someone feels they probably check their phone a little too frequently, but they can still cut back.
Addiction occurs when A) the behavior has negative consequences and B) when people start to feel they have little control over their cell phone use. Addiction occurs when the checking becomes mindless, when we do it so often and for long periods of time. A few of the most common warning signs of cell phone addiction (which share many commonalities with all types of addiction) include:
- Tolerance: You start checking your cell phone more and more, using social media, new apps to feel the same amount of pleasure.
- Withdrawal: Anxiety is a common withdrawal symptom for cell phone addiction. You become anxious when you don’t have your phone, and depression is another common sign.
- Excessive Use: You begin to use your cell phone excessively, and you might start to notice you use the phone before taking care of work or relationships. For example, you might be so deep into your cell phone, that you don’t notice someone is talking to you.
- Change in Mood: Cell phone overuse can change the way we feel and our state of mind. Often, the telltale sign is when we lose track of time, while tapping away at our phones. Or we look to our phones to pick up our mood, e.g. texting excessively when we’re having a bad day.
- Neglect: Addicts start to use their phones before doing more important things. Studying, doing work, having face-to-face conversations, for example, are three common things people neglect when their cell phone overuse has become problematic.
How Cell phones Reprogram the Brain
Cell phones (and social media) are designed to be addictive. They’re little reward machines, that continually reinforce our “need” to use them at all hours of the day.
Here’s one way to look at it: Some researchers say our phones are like a little slot machine we carry with us everywhere.
Those alerts, those red numbered new message icons, and those updates about the latest Netflix release… They’re all little rewards. They have the same effect on the brain as winning a few tokens at the slot machine.
Each time we receive a notification, or a text, or an update, the brain’s reward center activates. It turns on, and a tiny bit of dopamine gets released. The dopamine creates that feeling of contentedness and comfort that we so often get from using our phones.
But with smartphone addiction, we can get locked into a dopamine-seeking loop. Each tiny release reinforces the need, and over time, this pleasure-seeking behavior gets ingrained in our minds. And we start to notice that we reach for our phones more and more, a lot of the time without even thinking about it.
The “slot machine” also reprograms our automatic, subconscious thoughts. The subconscious wants to protect us. In fact, it’s the subconscious that tells us when we feel pain, or that we’re hungry, and that it’s time to check on the phone.
That’s right. Our addicted brains think become convinced that we need to check our phones. It happens automatically, unconsciously.
And that’s why hypnosis can help cell phone addiction. Hypnosis helps us to access this area of the brain, the unconscious mind, and speak directly to it. When we practice hypnosis, we reach a very relaxed physically, but hyper-focused mentally. It’s very similar to meditation.
In this state, we can feed the subconscious with new information and more helpful ways of thinking. And because while in this trance-like state the subconscious is so in tune and willing to learn, the information that we provide can override the existing thinking patterns.
In other words, that unconscious urge to reach for your phone. Hypnosis can help you reprogram that out of your thinking.
How Hypnosis Helps Alleviate Smartphone Addiction
Hypnosis allows us to work directly with the subconscious mind – those automatic thoughts that control so much of what we do.
That’s why hypnosis offers so many benefits for addicts of all types. Hypnosis helps us examine the thought processes that are keeping us addiction AND helping us to replace them with more helpful thinking.
In particular, hypnotherapy – using hypnosis for behavior change – can be a helpful method for helping us:
- Recognize Unhealthy Thinking: With addiction, our obsessive thoughts about a substance or technology become mindless. Our minds run on autopilot, and we don’t even consider the thoughts that drive us to action. For healthy things (like telling us we’re hungry), this autopilot system is helpful. Our subconscious helps keep us alive. With addiction, the subconscious thinks irrationally about our drug of choice. We’ve tricked the subconscious into thinking texting is as important as sleep or food (and we’re mostly unaware of it).
→ Hypnosis helps us to pause, to slow down our thinking, and to examine exactly why we’re thinking about something. This helps us to think rationally about our impulsive thoughts, which helps us to stop them.
- Updating Our Positive Associations: The subconscious gets trained to think the reward (a text, or notification) is super important. And it starts to place more and more importance on seeking the reward. That’s when our cell phone use becomes problematic. But the key is helping the subconscious see the negative impacts of our addiction – the insulted friends who you’ve ignored, the piles of work, the tired eyes.
→ Hypnosis empowers us to create new associations with cell phones. Whereas, we might have only considered the positive; we can replace how the subconscious views smartphone use. We can reteach the subconscious that texting or checking our phones isn’t that important.
- Helping Improve Behaviors: With addiction, we often turn to our drug of choice for protection. It becomes our safety blanket. With cell phones, we might use them to avoid social situations, or to avoid a particularly challenging work assignment. Hypnosis can help us to see the why of our behaviors, and also to provide helpful suggestions for more positive ways to respond.
→ Using hypnotherapy, we can reframe how our natural responses to negative behaviors, helping the mind see that our drug of choice isn’t a helpful option. So, for example, if you were someone who used your cell phone to avoid work, hypnosis could help you teach your subconscious new, more helpful ways to respond to the anxiety.
Does Hypnosis Work? Can It Help Smartphone Addiction?
Here’s one way to think about hypnosis: It’s a lot like meditation, but it has a goal. With meditation, we’re massaging the mind. But with hypnosis, we’re massaging the mind, while working on a particularly painful location.
And this sort of targeted mindfulness can be very effective. Research has continually shown hypnosis to be an effective option for a variety of addictions and negative behaviors, including:
- Substance abuse and alcoholism
- Sugar addiction and overeating
- Weight loss
- Motivation and procrastination
- Video game addiction
The list goes on and on. For cell phone addiction, which is so new, there hasn’t yet been a lot of research on the subject. But many studies of closely related addictions.
Smokers, for example, experience the same sort of reward-seeking behavior. And research has continually shown that hypnosis offers helpful effects. One study found 81 percent of smokers who received hypnosis were able to quit, long-term. And another found 39 of 43 smokers quit after receiving hypnosis. There's lots of great information about the usefulness of hypnosis to quit smoking.
Start Your Hypnosis Journey and End Your Cell Phone Addiction
Unchain yourself from your cell phone. Start using hypnosis right now and see immediate positive benefits. We offer a number of tools – from self-hypnosis scripts and recordings, to live one-on-one hypnotherapy sessions – to help you gain control of your addiction. In our Grace App, we even offer an entire Phone Addiction 7-day hypnosis series, that helps you overcome this challenge once and for all.