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  • Writer's pictureInside n' Out Health

Are you addicted to your Smartphone??

There is no doubt the evolution of smartphones and devices has made our lives extremely convenient… some may say a little TOO convenient…

We have access to all the information we need about the world and ourselves in the palm of our hands. When we head out the door, we check off a mental list of keys, wallet, and PHONE! Some may not even require their wallet due to being able to pay with their phone… yes, there is an app for everything!

Gone are the days when we need to rely on our memory for directions, important dates, spelling, adding, and subtracting! Enter our smartphone where we can access calculators, calendars, flashlights, alarm clocks, journals, train/bus times, cycle/fertility tracker, food delivery, digital wallets, meditation, and sleep apps to make our lives incredibly efficient mix this in with social media culture & entertainment and we create a dangerous ripple effect of attachment and dependency on these little devices.

Finding many turning to their smartphones as a knee jerk reaction if there is a snippet of 5 minutes you might find yourself with nothing to do… the sheer boredom or craving may be too much, and we decide to move to our phones where we may lose hours of mindless scrolling resulting in time passing without us being aware of it. Procrastination anyone? Productivity certainly is impacted as well.

Our smartphones alter our brain chemistry, the effect we see on our feel good hormones like dopamine makes us want to scroll endlessly – it might be the buzz or ping of your phone that sends those signals high with the impulse to check the alert immediately with a sense of excitement or is it angst? Have they liked your post?

This may have some negative effects on our mental health & social skills - the ability to connect with others in person – enter a global pandemic to be the cherry on top and we find our skills of interaction & empathy are potentially downgraded.

Digital technology with social media as a focus has been specifically engineered & created to grab our attention – these platforms track our preferences and then, like a carrot dangling them right in front of us to assist with hours of scrolling and falling into mindless rabbit holes. Filling the time with this activity breaks our interactions with others and interrupts our time with friends, family & ourselves. The take way – they know how to keep us hooked and engaged…

Are you a victim of your smartphone? Swipe for some insights to assist with implementing small steps - start with attainable daily goals - As we know social media is here to stay SO let’s aim to stay mindful and mentally present in our daily life – don’t miss out on creating and being a part of memories…

Which will you implement first?

1 . Delete Facebook or Instagram (or social platforms you find addictive) from our phones - only check notifications via the laptop, to remove the hold or addiction these apps have over us – We are not as easy a target as having it in our pocket or close range to get caught in the web of mindless scrolling.

2. Turn OFF notifications OR minimise app notifications – these notifications are there to suck us back into the abyss of social media and mindless scrolling which can absorb us for hours. If it’s a hit of dopamine & happy hormones you are craving let’s look to replace that with something else that lights up those areas of the brain. (Get outdoors, sun exposure, exercise, journal, take a nap).

3. Re-arrange your applications (apps) on your home screen to leave the apps you are not driven to check constantly or are addicted to. This removes the urge and knee jerk reaction to unlock your screen and open it in an instant – making it hard work to find them – if necessary, sign out of the app completely which requires a sign in each time. (Hopefully, this will use up the mere moments you have that are wasted on mindless scrolling with that spare 5 minutes and you leave that urge alone)

4. Leave home without your phone (where applicable) – disconnecting from our phones will allow us to reconnect with life. Do we really need them all the time? Make a list of when it is important to bring your phone along – be realistic. Our phones do interrupt and disrupt our interactions with people, events, and ourselves. We need to replace that psychological hunger that the phone may provide in the short term and reconnect with our face-to-face social connections.

5. observe your habits and take note of when you are reaching for your phone? How are you feeling? Bored? Sad? lonely? Find other habits that will assist in filling this instead of heading straight to your social media feeds on your phone to endlessly scroll, consider spending time outdoors, starting a new book, talking to friends and family or trying a new hobby like playing a sport or a musical instrument.

6. Try Social free media SUNDAYS / or a chosen day – go “off the grid” for a day. Immerse yourself in the present moment, in your environment & surroundings.

7. Put your phone in Greyscale or bedtime mode – removing the colour instantly makes your phone a lot less appealing as the brightness and colour keep you drawn to your phone and your brain engaged.

8. Turn on your do not disturb & don’t use vibrations when you have it on silent – This will help eliminate the urge to go to your phone.

9. You can try out of sight out of mind… not just face down this means completely out of sight, in another room, your bag, in the car? This includes charging and alarm setting – place it in your bathroom away from our beds.

10. Designated phone times – this may be helpful to set times where we are completely phone FREE. E.g., a weekly phone free walk – We can also designate phone free zones, at the dinner table or 2 hours before bed.

Allowing specific hours to look at our phones and time away from them will allow us to digest the content we need to and then be completely present away from our phones (No FOMO & no restricted feelings experienced).

Focus on the positive experiences when we remove our phones – the memories created, the conversations and emotional connections with others. Aim to reduce reliance on our smartphones – what might feel difficult at the start will transition to ease the more we practise the art of implementing some of the above ideas.

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