Many of us are well aware we have a phone-addiction crisis on our hands. We know the importance of showing up, and we want to be more present IRL, but we still can’t help feeling tethered to our phone.
Do you hop on Facebook and Instagram because you feel like you’re drowning in your own motherhood? The kids are driving you bananas, and — because you just want to “escape” for five minutes — you open a social media app and start lurking. You begin scrolling as a way to distract yourself from the chaos going on around you. You weed through your news feed to see what your friends are up to, hoping you come across someone posting about how their day is also going to hell in a handbasket, just so you don’t feel so alone.
You keep scrolling, searching to find someone else who is saying, me too, friend. You may find that person, but other things also end up happening: You see friends on extravagant, kid-free vacations and think: Why can’t that be me? Or, you see an Insta-story of a mom apparently nailing it at the grocery store with four perfectly well-behaved kids. You think: Why can’t I get my ish together with only one kid? And, finally, when you look up and realize your five-minute “brain break” turned into an hour, you think, I could have been reading a book this whole time.
Instead of investing in being present in your own life, you’re wasting too much time investing in other people’s lives. Do you yearn to be more present in your life and not feel like your phone controls you? Then it’s time to break up with your phone! But how?
Call It Quits
First, we need to make the conscious decision to do something about our relationships with our phones. On average, people spend 3.3 hours on their phones per day — and the numbers are rising — according to an Internet Trends Report. While there are many wonderful advantages to modern-day technology, our phones often leave us feeling agitated, defeated, inadequate, and exhausted. Have you ever stopped to notice how mindlessly scrolling through social media can make you feel, well, mindless?
A sure-fire way to resist the temptation of aimlessly browsing through unproductive apps is to delete them altogether. If you can do this, you’re courageous and gusty! If this hack nearly gives you a heart attack, try deleting one app for a month and see how it makes you feel.
Turn Off Notifications
If you’re not ready to take the plunge in deleting apps quite yet, then at least turn off all notifications — this removes some of the temptation to open an app. Turning your phone on silent so the constant ding of text messages isn’t distracting you is helpful, too. Adjust your settings to allow a special alert to ring through from your spouse or child’s school (or any other important phone calls you may expect). By doing this, you can put your phone down and not worry about missing an important call.
People set up boundaries for unhealthy relationships all the time, so why not set up a boundary with your phone? Create “office hours” for social media and for answering emails and text messages. If you don’t want to completely delete social media from your life (it does come with some advantages) then allow yourself to go on, but only at a certain time of day and only for a limited amount of time. Implementing a rule that you will turn your phone on silent during mealtimes lets you be more present with your family.
Create a Hack
Are you tempted to constantly check for notifications throughout the day? A great way to overcome this is to charge your phone in a remote area, like an upstairs bathroom. The farther away your phone is located and the less convenient you make accessing it, the more time you will have to be intentional about whether you really need it at that moment, and you can choose to be more present.
A clever way to combat a phone addiction is to adjust your phone’s grayscale. It will make your phone visually less appealing. Thanks to Lifehacker for this quick tutorial on how to set it up and switch it back to color.
iPhone users, go to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Color Filters. Switch Color Filters on and select Grayscale.
To go back-and-forth between color and grayscale, go to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters. Press the home button three times to enable grayscale. Triple-click to go back to color.
Android users, a Google search is the easiest way to track down instructions for your particular model.
Replace the Habit
If you stop to think about it, most of the time we hop on Facebook or Instagram because we’re bored. The solution to stopping these vampire apps that suck up all our time is to replace them with a healthier one. When the muscle memory in your thumb hovers over your phone’s screen the moment you have downtime, replace it with a more enlightening and productive app like Calm or Headspace (meditation apps), Kindle or Audible, or Duolingo (a language-learning app).
Catherine Price, the author of How To Break Up With Your Phone, suggests creating a particular lock-screen image or tying a rubber band around your phone as a physical reminder to pause and ask yourself why you’re reaching for your phone in the first place and is it truly necessary?
Be More Present
Our phones can help lead us to make connections and build relationships with other people, but only for a little while. What really matters in life is connecting and building relationships with those right in front of us. Let’s vow to pause, put down the phone, look up, and be more present.
Photo Credits: Unsplash