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20 Things You Should Do Instead of Reaching Your Smartphone During Downtime

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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDVQvme5tb0

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 :

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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