Breaking up with your phone
25th June 2018
I’ve recently read an amazing book ‘How to Break up with your Phone’ by Catherine Price.
I stumbled over the book and was very keen to read it because I’d felt for a while that my phone was taking over my life. If it wasn’t within an arm’s reach, I felt like I was missing something. What a revelation that book is!!!!
So after reading this book, I’ve discovered that the phones themselves are not the real problem – it’s the relationship we have with them that is. The problems come when the phone takes total control of us, rather than us being in control of our phones. We all love our phones but often hate the way they make us feel.
In the UK, on average, adults checks their phone 33 times per day. Young adults between 16 and 19 years of age average 90 phone checks per day!! Everywhere you look, someone will be absorbed in their phone.
If you feel you over use your phone, try to set boundaries so that you can enjoy the good bits of the technology whilst protecting yourself from the bad.
It might be helpful to ask yourself the following questions –
- Have you ever considered why phones are so difficult to put down?
- What kind of relationship do you have with your phone?
- Is your phone keeping you on a ‘tight leash’?
- Is your phone manipulating how and why you use it?
As mad as this sounds if we go back to our ancestral days we had to pay attention to changes within our environment because this could indicate a threat, such as an animal coming to eat us. ‘Human beings seem to exhibit an innate drive to forage for information in much the same way that other animals are driven to forage for food’, says neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley. Our brains prefer, and are programmed to seek out and be distracted by, new information which is what our phones encourage us to do!
Quite often, in today’s cut and thrust world, we feel connected but lonely. Many of us are now suffering with anxiety or feel disruptive but I bet the majority of people haven’t actually realised that it is the phone causing these emotions.
When we check our phones, occasionally we will find something satisfying and this results in a rush of dopamine (a feel good hormone). The dopamine response teaches us to form a habit as the body starts to associate the act of checking our phones with a reward (the dopamine). Of course then the feed never stops rolling – it’s endless – so we keep on rolling looking for the dopamine hit. But there is a flip side to this and those with anxiety issues can feel soothed by continuously checking the phone.
If you feel you would like to change the relationship you have with your phone (which believe me IS possible!!!) then it’s time to set some boundaries between your online and offline life! You will feel more in control of your life as you gain more freedom and headspace. This is not about ditching your phone completely. It’s about getting some balance back in your life.
Although my business is reliant on social media to a large degree (and I am grateful for this) in my personal life, I feel like social media is a bit like junk food: bingeing on it makes us feel bad and yet once we start consuming it, it’s really hard to stop.
Start to unplug
Whether it’s old school friends, family members or past colleagues, most of us sign up for social media accounts looking to connect with people, but numerous studies have shown that the MORE we use social media, actually the LESS happy we will be.
Connecting with old or geographically distant friends can be a good thing but spending hours following people, looking at their photos and obsessing over what an amazing life they appear to lead is not healthy. Many people’s feeds do not accurately represent even a tiny portion of their lives! This can lead people with insecurities to have even lower self-esteem and to feel even more anxious inside.
I have ditched my private Instagram account and have decided to only follow people through my business Instagram that I actually learn from. It felt good to have a clear out and I now feel confident that I’m using Instagram to my advantage rather than following a bunch of wannabes that I don’t resonate with.
Us humans love nothing more then zoning out for a short length of time but the problem comes when the distraction becomes our default!
How do you change your relationship with your phone?
First, see if you can identify a trigger that causes you to pick up your phone. Is it when you’re bored, when you’re cooking the dinner or maybe you feel uncomfortable? Is there is a trigger that makes you repeat the habit? More often than not, picking up your phone will just be habit! (See my post on habit breaking)-
The three Ws
Catherine Price, author of ‘How to break up with your phone’ suggests you ask yourself these three ‘W’ questions and then decide if you really do need to use your phone. If you do, of course, that’s fine. The point of the exercise is to give yourself a chance to opt out of picking it up through a conscious decision rather than an unnecessary habit.
What are you picking up your phone to do? Eg kill time, check an email, browse on line.
Why are you picking up your phone now instead of later? Eg you might want to take a photo. Or is it because you need a distraction because yo feel uncomfortable in your environment?
What else could you be doing right now besides checking your phone?
Notice the cravings. Take a deep breathe before you jump in and use your phone and just observe your behaviour. Oh and remember not to judge.
When you start making changes and as you take your life back from your phone, you will notice how much more free time you have and you will start to re-strengthen your attention span.
This is just a really quick insight into a great book. If you feel that you would benefit from some time away from your phone and you enjoy following a structured plan, then do buy the book and follow the 30-day guide which will personalise your relationship with your phone.
Just remember that phones are designed to get us addicted to them, so stay on your guard. Reclaim the time you spend swiping and tapping and dedicate it to a hobby or meeting up with a friend. These activities are far more valuable to you than wasting endless hours on your phone. The moment you realise you don’t have to join every group chat, check in to every place you go to or to say yes to every invitation, that is the point where you will regain control over your life, both on and off the phone.