How many times have you checked your phone already today? You probably checked it before you even got out of bed, right? Reaching for your phone before you’re even standing upright has become the norm. But all the research out there suggests this much phone time is making us way more stressed than we need to be. People may be spending more time on tech than they are sleeping and in extreme cases we’re talking about serious tech addiction. If you feel that your relationship with your phone isn’t exactly healthy then it could be time to cut screen time.
Some medical professionals believe in a condition called ‘hyper connection’ where you find yourself stressed and anxious if not able to get to your phone. This in turn can lead to depression and total burn out. If you feel you need to check yourself then here are some ways to start your own digital detox…
At the moment you may find it hard to go even a few moments without swiping that screen. It has become a habit and a reflexive action so deciding to scale it back isn’t something you can do in a single move. You can’t go cold turkey on your smartphone. (Well you can but you’ll more than likely give up without giving the detox a good go)
Go slowly to begin with, set yourself mini targets. Tell yourself you won’t swipe for 15 minutes then step it up to 30 and then go for an hour. Soon you’ll be able to focus on other things and spend a few hours each day not constantly connected. You’ll be surprised by how quick the time can go when you focus on something else.
Self-Imposed No Screen Time
Once you’ve got to grips with a few hours offline, set some boundaries. Certain times of the day can be considered completely off limits. Meal times and bedtimes should be a screen free zone and you may impose a ban on all checking of emails after 8pm. No one needs to be dragged into work drama at that time of night. If you’re feeling brave you may even opt for a screen-free Saturday or Sunday and see how a whole day without internet access feels. (Gutsy, right?)
Go Retro – Buy an Alarm Clock
It’s far too tempting to start swiping as soon as you wake when you use your phone as an alarm clock so quit it. Buy a regular alarm clock and then there’s no need to be reaching for your phone until you’re up, dressed and ready to go. Hypervigilance is particularly applicable if you don’t turn your phone off while you sleep and refers to the experience of being constantly tense and on guard. Somewhere in the back of your brain, you’re expecting a call and this may make you less prone to relaxation. So the best thing to do is buy an alarm cloak and sleep without your phone in the bedroom.
Swap it for something else
The whole point of a digital detox is to use technology less in order to re-gain the real parts of your life back. But, swapping your phone for something like a kindle (or even real book, god forbid) can not only help to take your mind off your phone but keeps your hands busy, avoiding the natural reflex of picking up your phone every two seconds. Not to forget the fact that reading will bring you enjoyment and calm your mind.
Once you’ve got your head around not constantly being connected, you’ll soon see your stress levels sink and there are also these added benefits of digital detox therapy:
More socialising – you may think you spend enough time with your friends but once you’ve cut screen time, you’ll have more time to see them in person rather than chatting on WhatsApp. It’s so much better to see your favourite people in real life and spend quality time with them.
Time to think – without your phone constantly beeping and vibrating ,notifying you of pointless chat, you can embrace all the ‘you’ time there is and use it to your advantage. Genuine time to think is rare in this hyper-connected world so embrace it whilst you can.
Track back on the multitasking – being a good multitasker is a useful skill but it isn’t so great on your stress levels. Putting down your phone removes one (or more) of the many things you do at once, relieving stress and actually giving you more opportunity to focus and get shit done.
Live in the moment – Rather than feeling the need to document every part of your day, you can actually enjoy living in the moment and taking in the world around you. You’d be surprised how much you miss going on around you when your head is constantly staring at a screen.
We’re never going to say it’s time to ditch the tech forever but sometimes it’s good to have time out. And don’t worry, when you switch your phone back on, everyone will still be there!