Phone call good for mental health

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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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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