Everywhere I go, I have my phone.
When I don’t have my phone I feel stressed. What if I miss something?
I like to point to the time I missed a call from my son to pick him up due to illness as the reason I’m obsessed with keeping my phone nearby. But let’s be honest: most of us are just addicted.
What you do — and seeing who acknowledges you — on social media is addictive. When you see the likes, the messages, the replies, and all the signs that someone sees what you’re doing (and perhaps approves?), the rewards centers in your brain trigger. In fact, your addiction to your mobile phone is probably due, in part, to the fact that you can enjoy a reward whenever you want just by checking your social media.
And it really can be addicting, with the brain patterns of compulsive social media use remarkably similar to the brain patterns of drug addicts.
It’s not just about the addiction, though. I noticed that I experience life better when I’m not totally attached to my phone. Moving away from the phone as my default allows me to experience life more fully.
Now that I’m making a conscious effort to step away from the phone, including time to unplug on the weekends and evenings and to put my phone in DND mode at night (with the exceptions of my parents, my son, and my ex), my life has improved dramatically.
Here are 5 good reasons to unplug at least some of the time:
1. Boost your creativity.
When you’re constantly consuming media, you aren’t creating anything. And you don’t have to be creative all the time. I specialize in writing uncreative non-fiction. My attempts at fiction suck. But I still take time to try my hand at creative efforts, including music and sad attempts at fiction. I’ve even started adult coloring. And I never really liked coloring. I also crochet, and I’m useless at anything more complicated than a scarf. But I find these efforts oddly satisfying.
Creativity is a process. Our creative “muscles” can strengthen or weaken. When all you do is consume, consume, consume, your creative muscles atrophy. If you want to be more creative, put the phone down, and work on something else. You might be surprised at how the time flies, and at how you are less bored than you could have imagined.
2. Feel better about yourself.
Constantly checking your phone and being on Facebook can actually make you feel bad about yourself, and trigger feelings of envy. The problem is that you compare yourself with how others present themselves online.
Spend some time away from your phone and put things into perspective. Recognize that there are some pretty great things about your life. It’s hard to do that when you’re obsessed with everyone else’s life.
3. Stillness is good for you.
Even if you aren’t using your phone for Facebook all the time, it can still cause problems. Are you constantly playing games? Do you check your phone, even if you don’t have messages?
In a world where distraction and stimulation are all around, stillness is falling by the wayside. However, stillness can be beneficial. Do you ever just sit, without the need to accomplish anything? We consider boredom as the worst thing ever, but the truth is that our bodies need to recharge.
Put the phone away and sit in stillness. Meditation can help with this. You can even benefit from better sleep if you stop playing games or checking your email or reading on your phone or doing whatever it is you do before bed.
Stop letting your phone control your life, take in a little extra stillness, and unplug a couple hours before bed, and you might be surprised at how much you better you feel about everything in your life.
Take back control of your time.
Who’s in charge? You, or your phone? Be honest. Do you have to answer every text immediately. Do you feel frazzled because there’s always a notification for a new email calling off your attention?
You don’t have to let your phone manage your life. You don’t have to answer every call or text immediately. Turn off the push notifications on your phone. That way, you won’t be distracted by feeling that you have all these things to do because Instagram or Facebook or your email are always intruding on your time.
Just turning off my push notifications changed how I feel about things. My son has his own text and phone alert tones and if I’m in the middle of something, I ignore the phone unless it’s my son. It was hard at first, but I find it empowering now.
Today, we expect instant responses from everyone, and we think we have to respond instantly as well. That’s just not true. You can control your time. You don’t have to let your phone run everything.
When I attended my son’s first fencing tournament, I was so engrossed that I didn’t take a single picture. At first, I felt bad, but then I realized that I had paid better attention to him because I wasn’t fumbling around with my phone.
I don’t record recital performances, either.
The truth is that life doesn’t look the same when viewed through the phone. The phone gets in the way. I like taking pictures. I like having them. But I try to get it out of the way at the beginning of any event so that I can fully experience it going forward.
There’s a lot going on around you, and amazing people to connect with. But when you let your phone run your life, whether you are constantly checking for messages or trying to accomplish something in Bejeweled, you really are missing out.