How To Stop Being Addicted to Your Phone
Are you addicted to your phone? Here are tips for using your cellphone proactively, and not letting your phone take over your life! Let’s break up with your phone and live more presently.
When any new technology arises, critics scrutinize it and blame it for society’s issues. I mean, Aristotle was afraid that books were going to ruin society because no one would have to memorize stories anymore.
Cellphones were originally demonized for how texting was “ruining language”, and now there is a lot of criticism around cellphones being problematic due to social media and internet use.
However, social media can in fact be harmful and measures to use it wisely should be taken. Studies have found a correlation between time spent using social media and mental illnesses such as depression
Have you ever checked your social media right after an argument or a disappointment? Do you get on your phone when you have any spare minute? Including when sitting on the toilet? Do you check your phone without even noticing? Does an hour go by of you scrolling through social media before you even notice?
Using our phones and social media is numbing. Whenever we check our phones or get a notification, we get a hit of endorphins. Social media and our phones are literally addicting. We use instant gratification to avoid feeling unpleasantness. Using this method of coping, we are actually ignoring our emotions, and ultimately avoiding many aspects of our lives.
As a life coach, I am constantly hearing my millennial clients say that one of the first things they want to change is their addiction to their phone.
Top 6 Tips For How To End Your Phone Addiction:
1. Turn off your notifications for your social media and extraneous apps
Less notifications, less temptation to check your phone and end up in a scroll hole. I know a couple of you will be tempted to say “But what if I miss something?” Trust me, you aren’t missing anything all that important. Any social media or app notification can wait. Especially with push notifications, you’ll want to make sure your notifications are off so you are not literally pushed to check your phone and spend time on it.
It is also extremely helpful to practice putting your phone away more. To keep it in your purse or pocket instead of in your hand or on the table. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Utilize your screen time app
I love the screen time limitations and reports on the iPhone! This is a great tool for being aware of what apps you are spending the most time on, and how much time you are spending on your phone. You can set time limits on your apps as well as limits on what times of the day you are going to be on your phone.
Be aware that this system isn’t perfect- as it counts using navigation while you are driving as ‘screen time’.
However, please remember that you are human. Social media/your phone are engineered to be highly addictive- no sense in beating yourself up. Just observe your behaviors and do your best to be mindful. Quitting any addiction is hard, so do not treat your phone addiction any different.
3. Only check it at certain times of the day (and use a timer if you need)
Personally, I check my phone in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening. Using my iPhone screen time system, I put a limit on my phone for 45 minutes of social media usage a day. I use 15 minutes in the morning (as part of my morning routine), 15 minutes half way through the day, and 15 minutes at the end of the day. If I go over the limit at lunch, then I won’t be able to get on social media at the end of the day.
When the “you have reached your limit” screen pops up, I’m done for the day.
Having social media be part of my routine allows me to use it, but it also helps me better control how much time I am spending on my phone.
Planning and prepping for this kind of habit change is important. One helpful way to plan for this is to jot down when you are going to use social media (or scroll through the internet) and how long you are going to use it for.
It is predicted that having an addiction to your cell phone is one of the most common addictions in modern society, however, phone addiction is often underreported.
3. Mark when you have checked social media
I use an app called DONE to help me keep track of the habits I am building and quitting. Whenever I checked my social media, I made a tally in the DONE app. This helped me make sure I was only checking my social media 3 times a day!
When I first started limiting my time spent on social media, I realized I would check it subconsciously ALL THE TIME. I would mindlessly open the app and have to exit out of it real quick. Marking when you have checked social media really helps you be mindful about how often you are really checking it! This way crucial in helping me use social media less.
4. Put your phone away when you are with others or at work
Not being able to get off your phone when you are with other people means you surely have an addiction. You shouldn’t be sitting with a friend at lunch but also be messaging another friend. Break free from this by not getting on your phone when you are with other people. Keep your phone out of sight!If you need to send a text message, just tell the person(s) you are with “Hey, I need to send this really fast before I forget.” and then put your phone away again. You’ll feel a lot more present within your interactions, and you may set an awesome example. Besides, isn’t it the worst when someone checks their phone while you are speaking to them?! You’ll make less people angry!
Putting your phone away when you are at work will definitely help you spend less time scrolling through your Reddit feed when you are feeling a little bit burned out. If possible, put your phone in your desk and keep it there. If you feel an itch to check it out of boredom, go for a little walk around the office. This could really help you improve your mood, because, you aren’t numbing your boredom, but you are re-energizing your body with a short walk.
It can also be beneficial to practice leaving your phone on the charger or in your purse when doing things like going to the park,
5. Don’t sleep with your phone- kick your phone out of the bed!
The National Cancer Institute lists many studies suggesting (but still need more data to demonstrate) that the radiation from cell phones is causing diseases such as cancer. Although more research is necessary to confirm a correlation, why risk it? Especially with so many studies staying the link is significant?
Limit how much time you are spending around that radiation and move your phone to the other side of your bedroom. This can help you fall asleep faster because you won’t be scrolling through your feed late at night- stimulating your brain with the blue light. Who wants to check their social media mindlessly right when they wake up anyway? Social media does not seem like the best way to start your day!
6. Remember you do not to capture everything
I know for the photographers and creatives of the world (or just the Instagram influencer), it can be hard not always having your phone in hand in order to make sure you get the best pictures.
Why? Because most of the photos you take are not going to be the quality ones that you want to post.
I have even noticed that sometimes I will want to take a picture or video of something even if I am not going to post it. This is problematic for two main reasons. One of them being that is causes me to waste the storage space I have in my phone. The second reason is that is causes me to always have my phone out so I can capture something even though I am not really going to look at after that moment- isn’t it just taking me out of the moment?
Ask yourself why you feel compelled to capture everything? And in certain moments, is it worth it?
How Phone Addictions Can Be Harmful:
Being addicted to your phone primarily comes from social media usage. Social media has a well-earned reputation of making people feel shitty about their own lives. We scroll and see the edited versions of the realities people want us to see. We compare our lives to what we see online, and our own situations almost always come up short. Our bodies don’t compare to the edited insta-famous model. Our partners aren’t as good to us as other people’s partners are to them. Our lives aren’t as fun nor fulfilling.
Additionally, with the new algorithms in place with social media platforms, we are primarily being exposed to information we ‘like’ or search for. For example, if you like a couple of vegetarian recipes on Facebook, their algorithm will show you more posts related to vegetarian recipes. Although this can be rather convenient, it is also problematic. This helps advertisers target us and flood our feed with ads. Furthermore, this algorithm limits exposure to opinions opposite of ours- resulting in our views being challenged less. This might seem like a pleasing mechanism to have your beliefs continually be reinforced, but it is essential that our opinions are often challenged and put into question. Being able to see another person’s perspective is one of the most important functions we have that keeps our societies cohesive!
In addition to the almighty powerful social media contributing to cell phone addiction, cellphone games can also be a problem. It is mind numbing and far too easy to pull out your cellphone and play a games to avoid any unpleasantness in your life.
Being addicted to your phone is also encouraged by apps sending you push notifications and having customizations features. The reason why phones are very addicting is primarily fueled by apps needing you to spend more time on them. The ending result is you spending more time on your phone and less time with the reality of your life.
Knowing how to use your phone less is important. Since smartphones are now almost crucial to getting by in the first world, you must make sure you know how to use your phone wisely.
4 Tips To Using Your Phone Wisely:
1. Be picky about who you follow and what apps you download
This is an unbelievably important tip when using your phone wisely. Unfollow models and influencers. Follow people who motivate and inspire you. Accounts that make you laugh. Follow artists. People you love. Avoid following accounts that just make you wish your life was different. Choose to follow information and photos that fuel you.
The same goes with the apps you download. I know games can be fun, but if you know you are going to be easily spend hours on a phone game, it is best to avoid temptation and not download the app. Make sure the apps you download bring convenience into your life- not phone addiction.
2. Avoid ‘stalking’
This tip is a game changer for using social media wisely, whether on your phone or laptop! Do you catch yourself looking at some random person online? Then you start to get a little pit in your stomach because you aren’t as successful as them? As unique? As pretty? Scrolling through other people’s feed mindlessly and comparing yourself to them isn’t helpful whatsoever. If you catch yourself doing this, just remind yourself to change gears and go back to your feed.
3. Use social media with the intent of connecting with others
One big tip to using social media wisely: use it for what it was originally intended for! Despite it’s well-deserved bad reputation for how addicting it is, social media can be used for good. We cannot blame it for all of society’s issues without recognizing the good it has brought us. For example, I have a childhood friend who I don’t correspond with a normal basis. Thanks to social media, a mother was able to see all the ways people remembered and loved her son after he passed. Thanks to social media, I am able to remember birthdays and send thoughtful messages to my friends that I don’t get to see often. It is impossible to stay in close contact with everyone we care about, but social media makes that a bit easier.
Being our authentic selves can be one of the most rewarding things we do in our lives- on and off social media.
Have you noticed that people will often pretend to know something that they clearly don’t know? They may try to cover it up with something like “Oh yeah, but I haven’t heard it in awhile, so you can explain it!” Why are we so embarrassed to admit we don’t know something?
This is very similar to the American phenomenon described in America the Anxious by Ruth Whippman. We feel like we are competing with other people to be the happiest, so we don’t like to admit to other people that we aren’t generally happy all the time. However, we can often experience cognitive dissonance and/or imposter syndrome when we feel that we aren’t being completely authentic.
I’m not saying you should broadcast that you aren’t happy all the time, nor am I saying you should share all of your problems on social media. I am stating that you should present yourself, in person and online, in the most authentic way possible. You’ll find that people will really respect you for this, and that you will feel better about yourself.
4. Reach out to friends without using a social media platform and without texting
I have noticed that I have some friends whom I primarily connect with through social media (with the occasional meeting in person once in awhile), and I have realized that I am not the only one with friendships like this. Friendships mean more when they go farther than just commenting on their cute instagram photo.
Furthermore, texting is not a very proactive approach to catching up with someone. You cannot hear another person’s inflection. You cannot freely spin off into tangents about their lives. Using texting a way to catch up with someone does not allow truly intimate conversation.
One of the best ways you can build intimacy with someone is to call them or facetime them. You are going to have friends and family that move away, right? Perhaps next time you are in a traffic jam or have a long wait, give someone a ring! Ask them how they are doing.
When I was solo road tripping across the United States, this is something I did often. It helped the time spent in the car go by faster, and it helped foster my relationships. I never felt like I was missing out on anything back at home, because it was so easy to hear all the details of everyone’s lives through talking on the phone. I actually think I got closer to a few people because of our phone calls!
This is a powerful way to use your phone so it enhances your life- not diminishes aspects of it.
Calling and facetime is a powerful way to use your phone so it enhances your life without contributing to your phone addiction.
Using your phone with the intention of connecting with others and as a tool to improve convenience can be a beautiful thing. Nonetheless, too much of anything is bad. Everyone should put limits on how much time their smartphone should take up in their lives. Putting limitations on something this addicting isn’t easy. Please remember why it is important to spend less time on your- you don’t want it taking over your life. If you binge on the gram for the day, that does not mean you are hopeless and should give up trying to put limitations on your cellphone. It takes time, patience, forgiveness, and determination!
I have practiced these hacks to using my phone wisely for months now, and I feel so much more present in my own life. Furthermore, I find that I am comparing myself to others less- a mindset change I didn’t realize that I needed.
Get off of your phone and get into your life! End your addiction to your phone today!
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