Making a phone call is good for your mental health

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Texting, WhatsApp, messenger, video chat … the ways we can communicate in 2020 are endless.

But there’s one that some of us seem to have forgotten about – the ‘old-fashioned’ telephone.

There’s something grounding about making a phone call where you have to dial a number and wait for an answer.

You’re making time to pause, to connect in a more basic way and to give that person your full attention. Here’s why you should give it a try.

It shows you really care
Dialling a number actually takes some physical effort, which the person on the other end of the line will appreciate.

Just like when you send a card in the post, it takes a bit of effort to make a phone call compared to firing off a text. You’re not just having a conversation; you’re sharing your time. This makes both people feel appreciated and valued.

You can control your voice – and that helps you find balance
Psychologist Natasha Tiwari explains: “The ease with which we instant message has led to us getting lazier about communication. But the truth is, nothing will beat an old-fashioned phone call when it comes to our mental wellness and sense of being connected.

“A phone call is certainly better for creating a sense of authentic connection. In a voice call, we can share our emotions through tone of voice, volume and pitch.”

The silent moments are key, too
Those little dots when someone is typing on messenger can feel like torture. A phone call still has silent moments, but instead they can feel much more natural and don’t cause the same anxiety.

“The person we speak to will also sense our emotions through that which we don’t say and the moments of silence. All of this leads to a higher quality of conversation,” says Ms Tiwari.

A phone call cuts through the chaos
Social media and our phones are chock-full of information right now. People sharing images of their working from home set-up or posts about coronavirus.

A phone call presses pause on that flurry into your brain, and that’s no bad thing.

Environmental psychologist and wellbeing trainer Lee Chambers explains: “There is so much conversation about smartphones being bad, but the biggest thing for me about phone calls is you can go deep into someone else’s world and be open and honest with them, but you’re not exposed as you would be on a video chat.”

It’s a dialogue rather than just an exchange
Firing off messages – text or voice – can be quite throwaway. When you’re on a phone call, you are engaged in that moment, says Mr Chambers.

And that can have a huge impact on the result of your discussion and developing your relationship with the other person.

“You end up translating the messages to what you think, and trying to join those dots,” he adds. “Sometimes those dots are not what the person who’s sending the message means.

“A phone call means you can pick up on people’s tone and the words that are used can trigger empathy and compassion.”

And it’s way more intimate than a text
“You don’t get the same connection from texting people. When a phone call is planned, it’s quite an intimate thing,” says Mr Chambers. “You have to focus on the audio. It’s hard to look and listen with the same intensity.

“Think of being in a presentation – if you start reading the PowerPoint you aren’t listening to what they are saying. We overestimate how much sensory processing we can do at once.”

You don’t have to be video-ready
All this video calling we do in 2020 is great in so many ways, but there is one downside – people see you! And you might not want that.

All those worries about how you look go out the window during a phone call.

What’s your preferred way of communication? Do you still talk on the phone or are you more of a text/email person?

– With PA

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5 Comments

Total Comments: 5
  1. 0
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    my psychol was only doing telechat which i couldnt do with kids in the house, i rang to find out if she was still only doing telechat ??? only to find out she doesnt work at the clinic anymore , god knows when that happened

  2. 0
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    I still prefer emails, phone calls second, forget texting.

  3. 0
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    “Those little dots when someone is typing on messenger can feel like torture.“ Really??

    Phone calls can be exhausting and intrusive after a day at work. You can deal with emails and messages in your own time. I’m happy with that, except for the few select people I like to talk with on the phone.

    • 0
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      Totally agree, fed up. My retired friends sometimes don’t get that, after a day of work, often including numerous phone calls, the last thing I need is a long chatty phone cal l!

  4. 0
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    I heartedly agree with using the phone instead of texting. As an ex-teacher of office duties it was my task to teach students how to use a switchboard. We always said to make sure you answer with a smile on your face because that expression will go through as a ‘tone when speaking on the phone’. As we have ‘body language’ where you can gauge the feelings of another person by looking at them, you also can do the same thing with ‘phone language’ (and I don’t mean swearing) when you hear them.
    Even though you don’t need to know how to spell when speaking on the phone like you do when texting, you still have to be able to speak clearly and sound out your words in the Australian/English language.
    I have noticed, when hearing the younger generation reading something out aloud, they tend to read as fast as they can, dropping half the syllables of the words and making it almost unintelligible. I think this is a carry-over from texting and abbreviating so much.
    Talk about “instagram”, phoning is instant, and the two-way conversation is certainly faster than texting if you can’t spell or are not adept at abbreviating. It’s certainly faster for some people than typing and you can go from one topic to another very quickly.
    Also, a ‘hands-free’ phone installed in your car will keep you out of trouble because you don’t need to do any texting when you receive an oral call and therefore don’t need to have the phone in your hands to text a reply and get a hefty fine from our policing authorities.
    The average speed of a person speaking is about 180 words a minute. Even being a high-speed keyboard operator I cannot top that with my typing speed and cannot bear to use one finger on the small keyboard of a phone to text a message.
    I’m sure older people, with arthritis in their hands, would find it more comfortable to hold the phone to their ear with their best hand than try to hold the phone in one hand while they use an arthritic finger to text a message with the other. Also, it’s easier to walk and talk on the phone than it is to stop and text, sometimes stopping right in front of someone else or right in a doorway obstructing traffic.
    You can’t ‘sing’ “Happy Birthday” using a text message, but it sounds so much better coming over the phone.


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