Most of us use our phones and devices in some professionally or socially enriching way. During the Pandemic, video calls kept us in touch with our families and let us see newly born family members when we couldn’t be there in person. Smartphones have let us maintain long-distance relationships like never before, and our productivity at work has never been higher since we can almost always reach each other.
There is a tipping point for everything, though. Even a whole bottle of baby aspirin will get you sick, and too many of our phones has turned into a problem for many. While it isn’t recognized as a full-on addiction in the states, both China and South Korea have recognized technology addiction as a reality and a public health concern.
The compulsion some of us have to our smartphones can be so intense that withdrawal actually causes irritability and anxiety, but we shouldn’t be beholden to something so easily controlled.
Here are three tips to proactively disengage from your phone for a bit, as suggested by Dr. Anna Lembke, an addiction expert and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, to the New York Times.
Dr. Lembke suggests a complete break from phones based on other addiction recovery practices, like alcoholism. It depends on someone’s level of overuse, but Dr. Lembke suggests anywhere from a day to a whole month. This is easier said than done for some who need to be on their phones for work. Finding a day in the week to abstain from screens — that’s right, all screens — or even a weekend or a whole week leads people to be less anxious, less depressed, they sleep better, and they’re better able to consider how phone use affects their lives.
Set smartphone rules
Many families are rightly setting non-phone times for their children, such as at the dinner table or on a family outing. This doesn’t need to just be for the sake of family bonding. Individuals who notice themselves scrolling too much can benefit from putting the phone in a box past a certain hour, and keeping it in another room while they sleep. The idea is to keep it out of sight for parts of the day because we are all far more likely to pick up and compulsively use the things that are right in reach.
Get the least out of your smartphone
Try de-optimizing your smartphone, making it a less user-friendly experience if you’re having a hard time keeping it out of your hand. You can do this right now by moving your more tantalizing apps to the last page of your home screen. You can make them hard to access. You could delete the apps that you’re primarily drawn to, or you can even bury problem apps far into files in files in files. Create annoying steps for yourself when you’re trying to reach your compulsion app for the second time this minute and give yourself a second to think “what else could I be doing right now that would be better for me?”