20 Things You Should Do Instead of Reaching Your Smartphone During Downtime
Are you suffering from nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia)? This is the term used to describe an addiction whereby you feel real fear at the thought of being separated from your smartphone. If you are suffering from this, then you are a nomophobe. An astonishing 66% of the UK population is already addicted. One figure of 84% globally has been mentioned. There are already rehab groups for nomophobia in California and other US States.
Look at the shocking video where the bride insists on pulling out her smartphone as she is getting married. Unbelievable!
Now look at the mental and physical health risks:
- Relationships will suffer. Friends and loved ones want to connect and engage with you.
- Your performance at work will be affected negatively
- You will not be able to concentrate at school.
- Smartphones are full of germs—I mean you put it on any surface you find, don’t you?
- You will lose your concentration. Pedestrians who are on their smartphones were more than four times more likely to be unaware of lights at crossings. Don’t mention drivers please, as it will only put my blood pressure up!
- Poor quality sleep. Artificial light from screens affects the melatonin production which induces sleep.
- Any virtual addiction can alter your mood and is dangerous. See Dr. Greenfield’s book called Virtual Addiction: Help for Netheads, Cyber Freaks, and Those Who Love Them.
So, if you are looking at it 150 times a day or worried that this might become a serious addiction, try these 20 things instead of reaching for your smartphone :
1. Admit that your smartphone has taken over your life.
This is always the first step in any addiction cure. You have to face up to the fact that you have a problem. Now that you have recognized that there is an issue, resolve to do something to change all that.
2. Get a smart phone addiction app.
It seems ridiculous, but there is an app for that! These help you to put your smartphone on pause as if you were travelling by air. They also give you feedback on how long you managed to stay disconnected so that you can do better the next time. Other apps can disable your web browser, reject phone calls and send auto text messages.
3. Don’t reply to emails instantly.
Warn your colleagues that you are not going to answer emails straightaway and that you will only check for urgent ones every 3 or 4 hours. This takes some of the pressure off you and you can relax knowing that they are not going to expect an instant reply.
4. Choose face-to-face interaction whenever possible.
A good rule of thumb is that if an email correspondence involves more than four exchanges, it is time for real face-to-face interaction. You benefit from communicating with a real person again and as an added bonus, you can leave the smartphone on your desk. The world is not going to end while you are away from your desk!
5. Relax with friends.
If anyone uses their iPhone or smartphone when invited to dinner at my house, they are never invited again! We do make exceptions for bad news and apocalyptic events! Try leaving the smartphone at home when going out to do shopping or when relaxing with friends.
6. Get back in touch with the present.
Instead of reaching for that phone, which will only tell you some pretty boring details from your latest Facebook post, tweet or text, try a few mindfulness exercises. Just take time to smell, listen and taste something. Take a mental note of what you are feeling as you engage with the real world again.
7. Never take your smartphone to bed.
Switch it off and dedicate yourself to much more pleasurable and physical activities such as sleep and sex.
8. Pick up a real book or newspaper.
The joy of reading something is immense. Yes, I know you have all those ebooks on your ereader, but connect again with the pleasure of turning a page, touching and holding a real book made from trees, rather than tungsten. It is really therapeutic.
9. Go for a walk.
Instead of sitting down and discovering that the world has still not ended, go out for a walk. Get fresh air and start breathing again. No, you don’t need your smartphone for this activity.
10. Use predictable time off.
Laura Perlow has some useful tips in her book Sleeping With Your Smartphone. She has suggested the technique which is called PTO (predictable time off). Here, groups of colleagues or friends can set boundaries and limits for when they all switch off their smartphones so that real work can get done.
11. Set time limits for yourself.
When faced with any task at home or at work, try to switch off the phone and tell yourself that you are allowed to check it only after the task is completed. This is what I always do with my email addiction when writing these posts. It usually works, but not always!
12. Keep your smartphone out of sight.
Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes. If the smartphone is on pause or silent mode, then you might get a chance to watch a film, listen to music or even cook something nice for supper.
13. Use a weaning off process.
Some experts do not agree with keeping the phone out of sight. They recommend that you keep it in view as part of the weaning off process. You start by resolving to not use it for 15 minutes and gradually increase the periods, but keep it in your line of vision. That is the challenge. Try what works for you best. It is a great feeling when you can go without for several hours and your anxiety and fear levels drop. Then it begins to dawn on you that life goes on and that you can be a real person without that dammed device.
14. Try downgrading.
If all the distractions and technological wizardry are simply taking you over, try downgrading to a simpler model. A friend of mine did this successfully and also found that the absence of a touch screen led to a much less frustrating experience when sending texts.
15. Don’t take risks.
If you find that you need to concentrate on anything, whether it is driving, crossing the street or simply writing an email, resolve to switch off or at least put away your smartphone.
16. Reach out.
Now instead of sliding your fingers across a yucky screen, why not reach out to a real person? Somebody you have not called on recently or who needs a shoulder to cry on? Yes, you can use the smartphone but only because you are engaged in a real conversation.
17. Stop slouching.
Normally hunched over the smartphone or PC? I bet your shoulders/wrists/thumb joints are feeling the strain. Try this exercise in the video below. It did wonders for my painful shoulder due to a RSI (repetitive strain injury). I got mine from writing posts for Lifehack!
18. Be grateful.
Sit down comfortably and think of 5 people or things in your life that you are grateful for. These can range from your cat to your 42 carat diamond ring.
19. Make a list.
Well, actually two lists! One is of all the things you have achieved in your life or in the last week. The other one is to start listing all the other things that still have to be done.
20. Imagine you are back in the 1980s.
Sheer bliss. There were no smartphones then. I wonder how on earth they spent their downtime?
Do you think you can get over your addiction? Tell us about it in the comments and also any hacks that you might like to pass on. Oh, excuse me, must dash, my smartphone is calling me!
Featured photo credit: Smartphone mania/Krocky Meshkin via flickr.com
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