Lately it seems like everyone has grown an extra appendage at the end of their arm: their smartphone. We are stressed when we forget it at home, we depend on it for every little piece of information in our lives, and we’re constantly drawn to its glowing blue screen no matter what we’re doing.
Whenever we can take time away from our phones our friends praise us. They will say how they wish they could pull themselves away, but never seem to make an effort to actually create that separation. With the popularity of smartphones we have lost some of the ability to be mindful each day. However, here are some ways to get better about setting aside the phone and investing more time in yourself and your relationships:
Make early morning and late evenings “off-limits” time.
Instead of scrolling endlessly through your news feed until you doze off, set the phone aside and write in your journal or meditate for a few minutes about your day. Instead of waking to social media posts or checking your email, do some easy stretches. We guarantee you’ll have a better night’s sleep and better mornings!
Schedule a No Phones Allowed Day.
This may be best reserved for a weekend, but make a rule with your friends and family to leave the phones at home for 24 hours. Decide where you want to eat without reading a review on Yelp, and find your way without Google Maps (maybe even get lost and have an adventure). When you finally do return to your phone, ask yourself: “Did I really miss all that much?”
Turn off app notifications.
Do you really need to know the moment that someone likes one of your photos on Facebook? How about the moment you receive an email? Check these apps when you have time not when they want you to. Another way to feel less anxiety is to keep your phone on vibrate rather than sound.
Think before you snap.
Instead of taking a photo or video of every little thing you find interesting, stop for a moment and think. Is this really a moment you need to share with everyone? Consider all the phone screens you have to look at when attending a concert – all of those people are taking the same terrible shaky video! Reconsider if getting out your phone is really worth missing a part of the experience.
Keep your phone in your purse or pocket during meals.
The table is for food, drink, and good conversation, not a phone. Nothing that is happening on your phone is more important than the hour or so you have to enjoy a meal. On the same note, just because your food looks amazing it does not taste better after it has been Instagrammed. In fact it’ll probably be cold. Keep it stashed and savor what’s right in front of you.
Use moments you’re waiting to connect, rather than disconnect.
Often when we have to wait in line we pull out our phones to check email or read an article. Instead of relying on your phone to entertain, rely on yourself! Strike up a conversation with someone in line next to you or observe details about where you are, and the people you’re surrounded by. Think about happy moments that you’re grateful for instead of mindlessly scrolling.
Although smartphones can be a wonderfully helpful tool in our lives they are only that: a tool. They are not an extension of who we are and they are not more important than the people we love and the relationships we have with them. Smartphones are a resource not a crutch, a bonus not a necessity. These steps will help you to be more mindful about your relationship with your phone and live your life more fully!
[Credit: Hall, Alena. “23 Signs You Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Smartphone.” Huffington Post.]