Consider this article your intervention. Because if you’re reading this, you’re most likely concerned that you may be addicted to your smartphone … or diagnose someone whom you care about as cell phone addicted and help them in the process of becoming less addicted or finding an online therapist.
Tapping, typing, scrolling or swiping — we’re head down with our eyes locked to screens — and checking our phones about 46 times a day. A study by Deloitte found Americans, collectively, check their phones 8 billion times daily. But what are we checking for, really?
Although this may be the norm, smartphone attachment and overuse can have significant negative effects on our lives (and we’re talking more than developing carpal tunnel). The instant gratification and short-term pleasure of accessing content on your smartphone comesat the cost of tiredness, insomnia, poor focus, stress, anxiety and negative thinking — not to mention relationship dysfunction, envy and even, unnecessary FOMO.
Take Baby Steps
Signs that you may have an unhealthy obsession with your phone:
- It’s the first think you touch when you wake up and the last thing you touch when you go to sleep
- Your phone travels with you to the bathroom
- You suffer from nomophobia — fear of being without your phone without even knowing
To turn your relationship with your phone from unhealthy to healthy, start small:
- Don’t use your phone as your alarm clock. Turn it off 30 minutes before you go to bed and complete one task in the morning before you look at it (e.g. shower, eat breakfast, get the kids on the bus).
- Stop taking your phone with you to the bathroom at home or restroom in public places.
- Keep a phone journal. Ever try to lose weight and keep a food journal? It can work for “over-teching” too. Commit to opening your phone only once every 30 minutes at first. If you’re tempted, write down how you feel and reasons for why you don’t have to be a slave to this device.
Silence Your Phone
Text message, Facebook, email, Instagram notifications… these alerts all make your dopamine levels skyrocket. The more pleasure you get from checking these notifications on your smartphone, the more your brain seeks it out. Texting more and posting more means you click to see who responded with likes and comments, which gives a brief high. Kill these distractions that can take you away from full engagement with work, a friend, your thoughts and just living in the moment.
Turn off notifications, so they don’t appear on your lock screen and use “Do Not Disturb.” Phandroid breaks down how this feature can either limit or silence notifications and alerts entirely with three different silence levels: mutes everything, total silence except alarms and muted except for alarms and selected people, reminders and events.
Regain Power Over Your Phone
Maybe you’re reading this article because you’ve gotten one too many sighs from friends and family as you mindlessly scroll on your phone. Time has reported that those active on Twitter are more inclined to face confrontations typically associated with infidelity and divorce. Imagine letting social media and your tech device destroy the most important relationships in your life. Rather than let your phone control your life, learn to control the effect your phone has on you.
Dr. Mitch Abblett, clinical psychologist and Executive Director of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, shares on mindful.org how the practice of mindfulness can help phone addicts become more aware of their habits. Dr. Abblett’s practice is like meditation while holding your phone. By focusing on your breathing, you’ll learn to identify and label thoughts and emotions that creep into your mind. This practice can lead you to ignore impulses to use your phone and let negative energy associated with this object go. You may find that practicing mindfulness can beneficially be applied to other areas of your life as well that may cause stress, anxiety, anger, restlessness or doubt for a better quality of life.