WELCOME TO (PART 2) OF THREE-PART BLOG SERIES that looks at some simple yet powerful psychological ways to minimize smartphone usage and break mobile addiction.
In the first post (Part 1) we looked at some interesting studies on addiction, some eye-opening statistics on phone usage, and 3 ways to limit your digital interaction. Please read Part 1 for better understanding and continuity.
In this post, I’ll continue to share some amazing psychological ideas to curb your smartphone usage.
- Try the Powerful Digital detox.
What is a digital detox?
Digital detox refers to a time when a person stops and refrains from using tech devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and social media apps. Nobody is asking you to throw away your smartphone in the water, but taking a break from digital devices is a great way to focus on other aspects of social lives and real relationships without distractions.
A digital detox can help at least temporarily to lower the stress that arises from constant technology and connectivity use.
Related Interesting Read: Scientific Ways to Beat Stress.
Let me offer you some interesting ideas you can try:
- A Day’s Digital Fast: Try going smartphone-free for 24 hours. If possible, later on, try giving up tech devices for a week.
- Digital Declutter: Cal Newport, in his book “Digital Minimalism” suggests a 30 day or month-long break from all kinds of technologies in your life.
- Daily Digital Detox: Institute 3 unreachable periods every day- first 2 hours in the morning, an hour or two in the afternoon, and again an hour before bedtime.
- Social Media Detox: For specific periods of time during the day, focus on completely abstaining from social media platforms.
- A Special Detox: If one app, game, or social media platform is eating too much of your time, then just focus on restricting its use for a few hours or a day.
- A Mini Detox: If you cannot do without your devices in the day courtesy of your job, then try doing a mini-detox. At the end of the day or evening set a time period to abstain from all digital devices and other electronic distractions. Just focus on spending time with yourself and your dear self.
- Keep your Phone Physically Out of Reach.
Have you heard this: ‘Out of sight, out of mind?’ Well, this applies to your smartphone too. In simple terms, put the phone physically out of reach. You have will power to do that. Trusting your willpower is a game you’ll never win. So, get it out of sight and you’ll make it harder to reach for your phone.
Looking for an easy way to do it? Just hide it from view.
For a certain period of time in the day, leave your phone in the bag, leave it in a locker, put it in the drawer, or just put it behind your laptop’s screen.
You’re going for a walk, leave your phone behind. Going to the gym? Leave your phone behind. Going to the washroom? Leave your phone behind. Taking a break? Leave your phone behind.
Reading this article? Leave your phone behind.
At night I will highly recommend not charging your phone in the bedroom and leaving your phone in another room or the hall.
This way you’ll ensure 3-fold benefit. It will be the last thing you’ll see in the night, not the first thing in the morning, and most importantly no temptation in the middle of the night. Tell me will this not improve your sleep and even your relationship. Just think!
Now before you say that you are using your smartphone as an alarm clock, let me tell you to reintroduce the actual alarm clock back into your life. This is a sure-shot way to avoid the temptation of checking it before you sleep and upon waking. Also, it frees you from the excuse for using your phone.
You May Like To Read This: How Deep Sleep Acts As A Plumber Of Mind.
Another Interesting Read:- How Meditation Changes Brain Circuit.
- Let Your Body Release Natural Chemicals.
Your brain has several pathways that trigger a feel-good chemical called dopamine when there is the possibility of getting a reward. Dopamine creates a feeling of pleasure and motivates you to take action.
When you check your phone, your brain releases a small amount of dopamine. Each time you hear a social media notification, your brain stimulates the release of the chemical in anticipation of getting a reward in the form of “likes” and “comments,” and you end up checking the device.
The problem is this chemical flow is temporary, so your brain wants more and more dopamine, which triggers the habit of checking your phone regularly throughout the day. Slowly your brain learns to associate checking your phone with the possibility of getting a reward. This is how your brain rewards system works and the net result is addiction.
Slot machines are the most addictive machines ever created by humans. Unfortunately, your smartphone is the smallest slot machine. Your brain in an effort to try and predict what’s next acts like a slot machine and leads to infinite scroll in anticipation of variable rewards.
The solution is simple: Train your mind to naturally release dopamine to eliminate the craving from external sources.
Well, it’s a scientifically proven fact that Meditation, yoga, exercise, engaging in creative pursuits and other mindful activities help release natural feel-good chemicals. Also, many parents unknowingly use screen time as a reward to encourage children to do their homework, study, and do house chores. Beware of using the smartphone as a reward as this will do more harm than good.
This May Appeal to You: Scientific Ways to Tame Your Anger.
- Delete the Most Distracting Apps.
Do a self-audit and be honest with yourself. Find out which apps on your phone are the most distracting and most addictive. Be open and honest in your assessment. Now at least delete the attention and focus hungry apps. Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the temptation to tap on the colorful icon on the home screen.
A good way to avoid this temptation is to move all these addictive apps from the main screen into a folder on the last page of your phone’s home screen where it’s harder to find and open them. Also, you can group all such apps in different folders, so they’re at least one extra tap away from you. If asking you to delete the apps is too extreme and radical, then at least the above is possible. Isn’t it!
Understand this: Someone will make money when you click on it, but you lose your time which is more precious than money. The choice is yours.
Another powerful way is to just restrict their usage to a web version and access them through your laptop or computer screen. This is less convenient and so you’re less likely to get sucked in the digital vortex.
Sound reasonable! Then go ahead and do it. What are you waiting for?
Very Interesting Read:- How Hot Water Treats Depression.
- Limit Your Screen Time and Set App Time Limit.
Asking you to completely stop using social media apps is not feasible and practical, but at least you can set a time limit for them. Today most phones allow you to see your screen time and also the time you’ve spent on certain apps and what apps you check the most.
Analyze the time you spent daily on the apps and then accordingly set a daily time limit for them. When you reach that limit, your phone will give a notification. Setting limits on these digital apps that intrude on your time can be very good for your mental well-being.
Each day set aside a specific time to check your messages, emails, posts, and updates. If needed set alarms at various times of the day to remind you to check your phone. Spend five minutes opening and checking social media apps.
You can scroll, post, tweet, like, comment, or share during this period, you are not allowed to exceed the time limit. And if you can’t trust yourself to put it down in five minutes then set an alarm for five minutes.
Agreed this is a small step and not a big barrier, but never underestimate the power of small. This step is enough to make you more aware and conscious of your mindless scrolling and ultimately break the habit.
Instagram has recently introduced two new features to break social media addiction: “Take a Break” and “Daily Limit.” Both these featured are designed to encourage users to break the scrolling chain and stop using the app after a set amount of time. Though the Take a Break feature is available only on iPhone, but the Daily Limit feature is available on both iPhone and Android.
Another Amazing Read:- Understand Gut-Brain Connection to Improve Immunity.
- Create Tech-Free Zones:
Establish screen-free zones around events like social gatherings, meals, vacations, and family outings. These are the times of personal bonding and frequently checking your phones negatively affects relationships. Set boundaries for screen use and enforce them with all family members and friends and guests. Take regular tech timeouts.
For example: Have you heard about “The Phone Stacking Game.”
Let me tell you how it works: At the beginning of the meals when you’re having lunch or dinner together with friends and family members, everyone places their phone face down at the center of the table. As time passes, obviously you’ll hear a lot of calls, notifications, buzz, and beeps, but no one can pick up the phone. If someone can’t resist the temptation and pick up the phone, he or she will pay for everyone. If no one picks up, then everyone pays for themselves.
Try using a “Be Present – Box” at the dinner table. Turn off your cell phones and put them in the box during family time.
All you have to do is make sure you schedule certain periods of the day wherein you stay away from any sort of brightly lit screen, tabs, tv and phones included.
If you have not read “Part 1” then please do so for better understanding.
In “Part 3”, I’ll keep revealing and sharing amazing and powerful ways to beat smartphone addiction.
Don’t miss reading the next part, “16 Powerful Psychological Ways to Break Your Mobile Phone Addiction (Part 3). Some kick-ass ideas to cut down your phone usage are awaiting.