ELEVEN THINGS TO DO TO GET OFF YOUR PHONE

We all know that feeling of sheer panic when you dig around in your bag or check the wrong pocket and can’t immediately detect your phone. It’s like someone’s stolen your favorite child or cut off a limb in the street. I’ve seen the fear in the eyes of the person who can’t locate their phone on the first pat of the pocket so I know when I say this that I’m not even exaggerating, much anyway.  It seems we have become so reliant on our devices that it is practically a third arm. Walking through the city, travelling on public transport and sadly even lying in bed, people hardly seem to lift their heads away from the screen for long enough to see the world moving briskly around them. That slapstick moment of a pedestrian walking headfirst in to a lamppost while staring transfixed at their screen isn’t even that uncommon these days. In fact, we would probably all miss it happen because we too, would be looking down. Never mind,we could watch it on You Tube on the train home. We live in a society which is has seemingly forgotten to take note of the world around them and relies solely on the device they carry round with them with such unshakable dedication it is almost laughable.

If you ask anyone today to name the one thing they could not live without I bet most people (including you, if you’re being totally honest with yourself) will say their smart phone. It’s clear why, our smart phone can just do so much, without taking off our pajamas we can have a date for the weekend, call a long lost friend on the other side of the world, have a meeting with our boss from the office *bed, procrastinate for hours online shopping or even squeeze in some casual stalking. Is this behavior bordering on addictive? Well yes, yes it is. A study done in 2017 showed that more people are looking to quit social media than quit smoking. Why? To give themselves some control back in their lives? To have more time for more meaningful pursuits? To limit the damage our phone is having on our lives and bodies? Yes.

There is more than one reason to get off your phone and without freaking you out there are ten below which are only naming a few. You might even recognize some of those within your own life.

-Eye stain

-Neck strain

-Wrist sprains

-Texting thumb

-Impaired sleep

-Insomnia

-Anxiety

-Depression

-Acquired ADHD

-Arthritis

-Reduced social skills, particularly with children

These things are especially common if you, like most people now, depend upon having a constant online presence for your job. We would be unable to give up our phones completely but there is something that can be said for allowing yourself an evening or even a full day off each week to detox the device. Below are some ideas of things to do instead of staring glazed eyed over monotonous tweets. We can all do these with relative ease so give them a go and see if you feel better for it, you never know you might rediscover something which you’d forgotten you loved or love even more than your phone, yes I said it. Get inspired.

1. ADMIT THAT YOU HAVE AN ADDICTION

My names Lara and I’m an addict. 

2. DISCONECT

This is not always an option, but where possible avoid taking work home. If your job allows do not connect your work email to your home phone, give yourself some distance from the office when you’re not physically there.

A good rule of thumb is that if an email chain is longer than four, a phone call is probably preferable and even better a face to face meeting. 

It is also an option to log out of or delete the APPS which are the biggest test on your will power, that way you’ll feel less of an urge to open these platforms every time you have a moment of stillness.

3. READ A BOOK

The benefits of reading are tenfold. If you read last thing before you fall asleep instead of sitting staring at an artificial blue light, I guarantee you’ll sleep better. This is proven to reduce insomnia or interrupted night’s sleep and leave you feeling fresh with more energy for the following day.  I’m not saying you have to jump right in to an Oscar Wilde or anything, just that you should leave trashy Facebook posts behind, pick up something that truly interests you, a newspaper a magazine or a book and read something with a little more substance.

2. JOIN A CLASS

This is a little outside everyone’s comfort zone especially if you’re going to go it alone. Find something you love, have loved in the past or would like to try to challenge yourself. This could be learning a new language, a book club, a pottery class, it could be a cookery school, a gym, a sports team, maybe you have children or a pet and there are groups you could join with your baby or fur baby. Whatever it is that you fancy doing just make sure it can be a phone free zone and allows you to unleash your creativity.

5. DINNER DATE

Date night? Do it. Do not take your phone. If you are on a date with the right person you won’t want to stare at Instagram all evening. No date? No problem. Take yourself out on a date without your phone. Embrace sitting in a cafe or restaurant without your usual shield of your comfort PHone. Enjoy your meal without taking a photo of it and asking for that virtual validation of your dinner choices.

If going out for dinner is not for you right now, why not make yourself something, leave your phone in another room and just sit down and enjoy your meal without putting down your fork every other mouthful to check emails.

7. COOK

There will come a time in every adult life when you will be asked the question what is your go-to dishmaybe this is when you’re trying to be a realgrown up and start having dinner parties at the weekend, maybe you’re cooking for the in-laws trying to persuade them you have your shit together, maybe you’re trying to impress your new boss and are afraid he or she will recognize the takeaway you normally order in and take credit for. Whatever it is, why not try out a new recipe seen on some of the countless foodie Instagram’s you follow.

8. PLAN AN ESCAPE

Plan your next get away, even if it’s just one night away with your partner to refresh your relationship, maybe it’s a fun city break with your friends or a blow-out beach holiday at the end of the year. Whatever escape you’re planning it will give you something to focus on, something to look forward to and hopefully reduce the FOMO you feel every time you’re fooled in to thinking your friends holiday highlight reel is their actual reality.

9. GO TO THE GYM

Joining a gym. This is obviously great for an endless number of things but surprisingly good for making friends too. Join classes, do the same classes at the same time each week. You’ll then start to be a familiar face and meet people accordingly. The gym is going to improve every aspect of your life, mental, physical and social wellbeing plus you’ll feel less guilty about that second glass of wine after a long day at the office.

Side note: there are so many classes at the majority of gyms that we never really consider. If you, like me, feel a bit intimidated using the machines in a busy gym after office hours, why not try something like Pilates, yoga, cycle, dance, or body combat, there are so many options for you to take for a spin.

10. VOLUNTEER

This could be anything at all. Just an opportunity to share a little bit of your time for a positive cause. Time which you could so easily have frittered away watching cat videos on You Tube. You could volunteer at the local homeless shelter and go full on Florence Nightingale, maybe collect some food from residents in your area and give it to a food bank. You could simply find some items which you no longer want or need and donate them to a charity shop. Try your hand at organizing a community event or club for the elderly or people who would benefit from some company. Something that would not only be amiable and charitable but would also help you to feel fulfilled and selfless.

11. RECONNECT

When was the last time you dedicated some time for an old friend or a family member you see often enough and just had a catch up? Allocate some time for this person and give them more than a rushed WhatsApp for a change. Phone them for an hour, let them hear your voice, find out how they really are, what is new in their life. If you’re really dedicated to the ditching of the phone, why not try writing a letter, it can be quite therapeutic putting pen to paper, if you can remember how that is.

Lara Holden

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