Research shows that the more anxious you are, the more likely you are to prefer texting someone instead of calling them. But if you’re anxious—or angry, or have just consumed a few pints—the state of mind that you’re in when you send a text also effects your communication.
“Texting is one of the many things people do to get rid of anxious energy or other negative feelings,” psychologist Leora Trub explains. “When you’re angry, it can be really tempting to send a spiteful message, even if you know it could make things worse. When you’re anxious about a new friend or love interest getting in touch, you may find yourself getting trigger happy with the phone, hoping for some reassurance.”
After hearing patients recount their issues with texting (A new guy I’m dating just texted me to say his uncle died. What do I do?) and seeing patients struggle with parting from their phone during their therapy session, Trub wanted to find a way to intervene during those tense texts. The Mindful Messaging app, co-created by Pace University and Inward Inc., mixes podcast-style discussions with shorter and longer meditations over a 21-day period. Trub says she chose mindfulness because it’s all about managing distractions: “When you’re looking at your phone, it’s really hard to pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
Trub says with mindfulness you can recognize those feelings and they can have less influence on your behavior. And as texting becomes a medium for messages more subtle than LOL, it’s exactly that kind of awareness that’s going to regulate our impulses to shoot off emotionally-charged notes to friends and family unawares.
A final prototype of the Mindful Messaging app is now being tested. The app will be available soon for iPhone users, but Mindful readers can enjoy an exclusive sneak peek with this 3-minute breathing practice:
This web extra provides additional information related to an article titled, “Texting: When LOL Won’t Cut It,” which appeared in the August 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.