Smartphones: the technology we love to hate. A classic case of can’t live with them, can’t live without them. On the one hand, our smartphones have made our lives so much easier. We can keep in contact with friends and family around the world, order taxis and Topshop hauls, run businesses and organise dates - all at a click of a button. On the other hand, they’re supposedly ruining our physical and mental wellbeing. Not many days pass without a new study suggesting a negative impact of our smartphone use. The blue light is damaging our eyes, the constant whir of new information is disrupting our sleep, social media comparison is making us anxious and insecure. As we are all too aware, they’re addictive too. New research from Ofcom found that the average UK adult checks their phone every twelve minutes. 40% check their phone within five minutes of waking, and 71% never turn their phone off.
While we all know we should be using our phones less, doing so is far easier said than done. After all, the businesses behind the apps we lose hours scrolling and swiping through benefit from our addiction. Facebook may have now introduced a tool that allows you to monitor the time you’ve spent on its social media platforms, but this is only really a drop in the ocean when it comes to addressing the problem.
If, however, you are looking for ways to have a healthier relationship with your smartphone, there are some steps you can implicate. To get the low down, we chatted to Intuitive Health Expert, Avni Trivedi.
1. Ban phones in the bedroom
Invest in an alarm clock and leave your phone overnight on airplane mode in a different room. This will improve your sleep as you won’t be disrupted by notifications, and avoid the inevitable mindless scrolling in bed.
2. Change your morning routine
Wait until you’ve had a shower or eaten your breakfast before tackling your notifications. Doing this will help create some headspace and will allow a gentler start to the day.
3. Create achievable boundaries
Commit to not using your phone during specific activities such as walking, eating or watching Netflix. Put it on airplane mode and leave in a separate room.
4. Turn off notifications
Disable notifications for social media and mute Whatsapp groups to avoid being lured in by the constant new information and dopamine hits.
5. Switch to grayscale
Phones, and their visually pleasing aesthetic, are designed to entice us. Change your settings so your phone screen appears in grayscale. This makes it less appealing and will help cut usage time.
6. Do a social media cull
Stop scrolling on social media accounts which make you feel inferior. We’re all guilty of this but marvelling at somebody else's lifestyle can be very damaging for our self-esteem. Remind yourself that social media is a constructed reality and only shows the best parts. Only follow accounts who inspire and help you - if they don’t, let them go.
7. Go cold turkey
Try disconnecting from your phone for an entire weekend, or one whole day if this is too difficult. The feeling of leaving it behind is liberating and helps you to remember what life was like before technology.
8. Utilise apps
Apps like Moment can shock you into cutting down on phone usage by recording the amount of time you spend on your phone. If you really struggle with self-control, download the Freedom app. This genius tool for blocking social media for chunks of time means you can focus without getting lost down the rabbit hole.
9. Prioritise the positives
If you’re going to use your phone, use it to improve your wellbeing in a positive way. Download apps such as Clue, a period and ovulation tracker which will help you to get to know your body better, or Headspace for guided meditation.