Putting your phone down more often can benefit you in many ways. Want to curb your smartphone addiction but aren’t sure how to?
Whether it’s to respond to a work email, quickly check your Facebook newsfeed, or post a picture to Instagram, phones have taken over our lives. Overcoming your phone addiction can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. But if you’re like most people, you have a hard time tearing yourself away from your smartphone.
The Addiction is Real
We have all grown accustomed to pings, rings, and buzzings. Our phones are like our children: we care for them, keep them charged, update and maintain them, and guard them with our lives. In one study done by British psychologists, participants checked their phones an average of 85 times a day. Making matters even worse, is that these checks and other actions on the phones are done out of habit, with little overall awareness.
If these numbers sound far-fetched, just check your usage with an app like Checky or QualityTime. These apps can tell you how many times and how often you check your phone throughout the course of the day. You can monitor your usage and get real-time reports, and even set limits to help yourself. You’d be surprised to see how much time you actually spend on your phone. Curbing your smartphone addiction means less time on a screen, and more time living life.
Appreciate the Beauty of Nature
Think of your commute to work. Do you bike, walk, train, or bus? If you’re like every other commuter around town, you get into or onto your mode of transportation and right away put your headphones in your ears. If you’re not listening to music, you’re probably passing the time by playing a game or trying out a new app.
Try getting to work, or wherever you need to go, without the entertainment of your phone. Listen to the murmurings of people speaking, the sounds of the birds chirping, or introduce yourself to the person next to you. Opening yourself up to these experiences can make you feel accomplished and proud. If you find yourself struggling to cut the imaginary phone chord, give an app like AppDetox or SelfControl a go. AppDetox is an Android app that can help control your app obsession. You can give each app a time limit so you can only access them when they won’t be a disruption. If you open an app when you shouldn’t be on your phone, the app will remind you. You can also try SelfControl, which lets you block certain websites for a set amount of time. You just put in the site you want to stay off of, and say hello to a distraction-free world.
It may be surprising to hear, but staying off your phone can help reduce your stress levels. How so? One of the reasons is that staying off the phone can help you be more productive, and it also means you end up with more time, because you’ve done everything you needed to get done. Time is a gift that smartphones have a way of denying us.
Spending less time on your phone can also reduce stress by taking away the need to compete and keep up. Think of all the times you check social media and just wish you were on vacation like your friends, or wish your body looked as good as theirs. Social media can often make people feel bad about themselves. To avoid this, spend less time on your phone by using the
iPhone app, Moment. The app lets you track your family members’ device usage, as well as letting you set daily limits for apps or sites like Facebook or Instagram. One setting forces you off your phone by filling the screen with pesky notifications so you can barely see anything.
You can also try OffTime or Flipd. OffTime lets you see how much time you spend on sites like Facebook, and you can choose specific modes like “family,” “work,” or “me time,” so you have access to things you need, and don’t have access to things you don’t. Flipd is another similar app, though it’s only available to Android users. It’s especially great for when you’re working with a group on a team project, or are with your family on a hike and want everyone off their phones. The app lets you lock your own screen, or someone else's, so even if you want to check your phone for “just a second,” you can’t.
Enjoy Every Moment
The biggest and most important reason to try and curb your phone addiction is simple: to enjoy every moment in life. This can be walking your dog in the park and smelling the freshly cut grass, or playing with your baby cousin without being distracted by your phone, or the urge to text your friend back. Focusing on these moments is important because they aren’t there forever. They come and go and it is totally your choice whether to cherish them or not.
Some of our favorite apps to help you live in the moment are Cold Turkey and BreakFree. Cold Turkey works similarly to your phone’s Do Not Disturb feature. Once you turn it on, it blocks texts, calls, and other disturbances for the amount of time you set it for. So if you’re at your friends hanging out, or want to be in the moment at your daughter’s school play, you can switch on the app and not worry about a single distraction grabbing your attention. BreakFree, which also goes by the name “Space,” is an iPhone and Android app that lets you set goals and challenge yourself. You can use it to challenge yourself to not use your phone for a certain amount of time, and try to win.
Another popular app used for the sole purpose of staying off your phone is Forest. The goal behind the app is to grow your tree as big as possible; the only catch is that it dies the second you touch your phone. So when you want to stay focused, just open the app and don’t touch your phone for 30 minutes. The company behind Forest has partnered with an organization to plant real trees in forests around the world, making the app good for both you and the environment.
To a Better Life
Smartphones are addictive. They eat our time, the social networks we check by the minute can make us feel bad about ourselves a lot of the time, and they distract us from the simple beauties of life. Curb your phone addiction, to start living a happier, more fulfilled, much better life!