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What to do after losing your smartphone and panic sets in

Have you ever lost your smartphone or i-Phone and suddenly head into a panic?…In the second part of our two part series on phone addiction, a couple experts weigh in on why we fear when we’ve lost our phones.

David Martyn Hunt, Getty Images
David Martyn Hunt, Getty Images

Chairman of psychiatry at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Corporate Medical Director for Legacy Meridian Health Services with Hackensack-Meridian Health, Dr. Ramon Solhkhah says some studies show the more you use your phone, the more panic stricken you’ll get if it’s lost.

“There’s no question that it can produce a full-blown anxiety attack that we’ve certainly seen people describe,” said Solhkhah. “The good news is that it has rarely risen to the level of requiring an emergency room visit.”

He also says in some of the other studies that have come out related to this topic, the worst anxiety people often face is when they’re separated by a matter of feet from their phone.

“For instance, if you’re taking the SAT’s and the proctor says ‘give us your phones and we’re going to put them away here’, that that known separation from your device is actually very anxiety producing,” said Solhkhah. “It produces both the self-report of anxiety but also the beginnings of some understanding that there may actually be some physiological changes that go along with it in terms of that sense of panic and worry.”

Metro Market Manager for Robert Half Company Office Team, Dora Onyschak suggests developing separation habits at work.

“Maybe put the phone in your drawer between certain hours so you can focus on some other things or make a habit of just checking it during your lunch break,” said Onyschak.

Losing your phone can make you feel anxious or panicky in an instant, but why?

Onyschak says one reason might be is that phones aren’t easy to replace.

“They’re not a cheap investment so on top of that, if you lose it or misplace it, it can be a pretty big financial hit to you as well,” said Onyschak.

She says another reason may be is that many people now do a lot of their banking on the phone which is filled with personal and business information.

Heads up, Phones down! Are you addicted to using your phone all the time?

Have you ever lost your smartphone and suddenly sunk into a panic?

Dr. Solhkhah says when someone loses their phone and panics, the function of the brain they need to retrace their steps slows down.

His prescription for anyone in this situation…relax.

“Deep breathing for many people works or practicing some mindfulness and some focus and really just thinking and breathing for a few moments to be able to focus your thoughts so that you can really think about where you left it, what’s on it and what you need to worry about,” said Solhkhah.

Onyschak says the reason people get so anxious is because it’s constantly by their side.

“People lose sleep because they check their emails at three in the morning,” said Onyschak. “You need to be able to put it aside.”

Dr. Solhkhah says one way to prevent the anxiety that comes with losing your phone is putting it away before bedtime.

“Use of that cellphone in those last 60-minutes before you go to bed is horrible for your sleep-wake cycle,” said Solhkhah. “So being able to put your phone away an hour before your ready to go to bed and say ‘that’s it, I’m done for the night’, and then wait until the morning.”

He also suggests having more family time and leaving your phone somewhere you won’t be distracted by it.

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