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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 May 21, 2019

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

1. Stress Eating

I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

2. Nail Biting

Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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3. Hanging out with Naysayers

We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

5. Smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

Smoking risks

    6. Excessive Drinking

    All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

    • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
    • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
    • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
    • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
    • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

    If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

    If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

    7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

    Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

    If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

    A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

    “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

    And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

    While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

    Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

    Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

    8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

    There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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    In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

    Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

    Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

    9. Watching Too Much TV

    I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

    Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

    Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

    It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

    10. Being Late

    Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

    Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

    Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

    11. Being in Bad Relationships

    Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

    I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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    Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

    12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

    Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

    Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

    Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

    By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

    Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    13. Focusing on the Negatives

    In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

    Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

    Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

    And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

    The Bottom Line

    So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

    Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

    Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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