Healthy Body  >  How to Stop Letting Your Phone Run Your Life

How to Stop Letting Your Phone Run Your Life

See if this sounds familiar: you whip up a colorful smoothie bowl (or order a gorgeous dish at your favorite restaurant) and just have to grab your phone and take a quick photo. Or: you’re out for a stroll and your pup (or kid!) does something so adorable, and you can’t resist sharing a video or Boomerang to Instagram. How about this: in the midst of a great catch-up session with an old friend, your email alert goes off, and you completely lose your train of thought.

Been there? I know I have. And we’ve talked about it here before, but it bears repeating: sometimes, when we disconnect from our devices, we become more able to connect with ourselves and those around us. Not to mention, we feel way less anxious and way more relaxed!

When we step away from our tech – or even carve out small but deliberate breaks from it in our daily lives – we create space to seek out other means of satisfaction and give our brains a well-deserved rest. Without the instant gratification of our Instagram “likes” or the compulsive urgency of our inboxes, we can truly savor every bite of a delicious dinner or linger over the intoxicating feeling of sunlight on our skin in the middle of the afternoon. And best of all? We don’t have to run screaming from our busy lives. Far from it! Instead, we can make small but conscious changes that give us a comfortable cushion of breathing room between us and our myriad distractions.

So, the next time you find yourself “hiding in your busy” or overwhelmed by technology, try one of these simple solutions to reclaim some of your precious time and energy:

Leave Your Phone Behind I’ve started a practice of plugging my phone in during meal times, face down in the other room. I’m also trying to feel less dependent on having it with me all the time and have been stashing it in a drawer while I go for a run. (So freeing!) And while that’s my way to literally leave my tech behind, you can also build smaller gadget-free gaps into your day: consider taking a brisk walk around the block and keeping your phone at your desk, or stowing it in your locker during your workout at the gym.

Putting some physical space between you and your phone is a fool-proof way to create gaps of tech-less time that you can then fill with whatever else you choose.

Choose Tech-Free Activities It seems like a no-brainer, but: how often do you find yourself doing something that’s truly tech-free? We scroll through social media during commercial breaks or scan through our emails while we wait to check out at the grocery store. My solution? Make time in your day for activities that actively take your phone out of your hands – and your pocket or purse. Taking a family vacation at the shore? Sign up for a stand-up paddleboard class! Looking for a totally “zen” way to start your day? Get on your mat with a soothing yoga flow! Looking for a satisfying whole-body workout? Skip your usual run (and leave your headphones behind) and hop into a swimming pool! You get the point.

When you can’t distract yourself from your phone, it will fill up fewer of your minutes – and let you truly focus on where you are.

Turn Off Your Wi-Fi I admit it: this one sounds more difficult than ever! After all, many of us work from home at least part-time, and Wi-Fi powers so much more than just our laptops these days: our smart TVs, home speakers, even security systems. If you can find an hour or two to take your home totally off the grid, by all means, try it! But consider all the alternatives available to you, as well: step away from your smart devices and reach for a new book you’ve been meaning to start, or rely on an old-fashioned paper map, or put pen to paper and send a letter – or even just a postcard! – to an old friend.

Without the constant barrage of entertainment from streaming services, internet radio, and of course Facebook, you’ll effortlessly find yourself focused on the task at hand – no more; no less.

Get Off the Grid Not everyone can take several days to recharge at a remote spa or resort. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find similarly peaceful places to visit throughout your daily life! Consider a weekend getaway to a cabin where cell service is less reliable, or an afternoon trip to a museum. Whether for a whole blissful day or just a couple of hours, put yourself somewhere where it’s difficult (or taboo!) to let your cell phone ring – and savor the silence that comes with it!

When you finally put away your devices – and your to-do list – for a few moments (or a few days!), you may find that choosing to disconnect actually allows you to feel more connected to the experiences and people that matter most to you, including yourself!

Now It’s Your Turn: What are some ways you take breaks from your devices? Let’s inspire one another to disconnect – and really connect – in the comments.

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