Getting Your Time Back
Humans are adaptive. Civilization has existed for many centuries without relying on phones. For the younger generations, this may seem impossible to imagine, but it is true.
Human minds were not intended to and not evolved for excessive device usage. There is simply too much stimulus for a person to handle nowadays. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are experiencing phone addiction, or if someone you love is. This information may seem unsettling, but there is a bright side.
While addictions are tough to overcome and those amid such a struggle may feel hopeless, addictions can be defeated. Addictions are created and maintained by a series of toxic, repetitive habits and behaviors. Through actively understanding the nature of phone addiction, one can break their addictive phone-use cycle and increase their mental health. If you take the time to learn about what unconscious habits are creating addictive behavior, then you can change your habits, and thus change your behavior. This may seem very challenging at first, as it can seem for any addiction. Change is frightening and the first few days will be extremely difficult if someone is severely addicted to their phone.
It is something that has become so ingrained in society that it feels hard to fathom how you can function in society without checking your phone every minute of the day. However, it is possible, and so many people have broken free from the hold of addictive devices. Proper research and intentional precautions can help a person heal from such compulsion.
Set aside one day a week to put your phone away. One way to start easing your way into the de-toxification process is by setting aside one day a week to put your phone away. This may seem hard initially, but the old saying is true – “out of sight, out of mind.” You have to become comfortable with not being around and not having access to your phone. You have to sit with the feeling of being uncomfortable that this distance from your device may make you feel.
You have to acknowledge how anxious you are without your device. In fact, this anxiety is more than likely exactly why you feel the need to continuously and compulsively be on your phone. What is more ironic about this truth is that your dependence on your device is exactly why you feel so anxious!
It is a dangerous feedback loop of feeling uncomfortable, turning to a certain behavior for relief, relying on the temporary relief through repetitive action, and then losing the ability to regulate without said behavior. It is possible! Start small. Put your phone in a drawer, somewhere out of sight.
Maybe do this on a day where you don’t need to check work emails or other activities that you would be required to perform for others. Let your friends, family, and colleagues know that you will not be answering them for non-emergencies on that specific day. Find other ways to distract yourself than just using your phone all day.
Your phone might be useful for socializing, but you will not miss out on anything for just one single day. Perhaps even schedule an event or a get-together on this day so that you will have more support and not feel lonely without your phone. It will be difficult to feel like you are missing out on something if you are already in the middle of enjoying the company of people you love.
Focus on a hobby that interests you, or that you have not done in a while. Read a book, rest your eyes, cook a familiar meal, and live your life differently, even if for one day.
Turn on “do not disturb” while working, spending time with loved ones, or going to sleep. Another simple way to being working on decreasing your phone time is by utilizing the “do not disturb” function on your phone. This is a great option for people who are too uncomfortable with the idea of completely setting aside their devices but still want to address their nomophobia.
Consider the number of times you might check your phone unnecessarily while you are in the middle of something, all because you received a notification. The sound triggers you to check what activity has just happened, and then you are drawn into the rabbit hole of all the other options available on your phone.
Maybe someone tags you on a Facebook post or sends you a funny picture on WhatsApp – these are not urgent, time-sensitive messages; these are not notifications of an emergency event, or a weather disaster, or anything of the like. However, when you hear the notification sound, your addicted brain perceives every single notification as an emergency and puts your body on high alert. To ease the feeling, you compulsively check the phone.
If you simply put your phone on “do not disturb” mode while you are at work, you will be less tempted to spend your downtime scrolling through social media. If you are spending time with loved ones, putting your phone on “do not disturb” is actually a display of love – love for yourself, and also love for them, because you are demonstrating that their company is more important than a quick thrill from a useless meme.
You may have also noticed the “do not disturb” button is also sometimes referred to as “sleep mode.” This is not for no reason! If you are trying to go to sleep, it will be much easier to rest your mind if you are not receiving notifications. This will prevent you from being tempted into staring at a bright screen and catching up on celebrity drama until three in the morning (because let’s face it, many people are guilty of doing this before bed at least once in their lives!