Humans are curious beings. We are constantly check our phones to see if that red light has popped up or if some new headline is trending or if something path breaking happened in the past few minutes when we didn’t look.
Also, we are greedy in nature. Every moment that seems awe inspiring or cute just has to be captured and stored on our hard drives. It is ironic that this action often keeps us from truly experiencing the insights that come with them.
The physical challenges that come with constantly craning your neck, holding your phone and straining your eyes are often underestimated.
The first four months of trying to get noticed as a blogger, I was constantly on social media or learning about it. All from handheld gadgets. Working for my home and taking care of my kids made the only times available to engage with my audience or fellow bloggers early morning, while watching TV or late at night. I picked up the phone even if I had just two minutes to spare to connect. I took photos constantly. Not just of kids but of everything that was social media worthy.
The first time I noticed the price I was paying was when my hand started cramping. My eyes were constantly hurting. My husband noticed I simply could not focus on a conversation. And I often felt a halo around my sight when people would be talking. I found myself compulsively checking my notifications to see how my newest post was doing. I was not in control. And the biggest price I was paying was not being present in the moment. Here. Now.
I had to pause and reassess my approach. There has to be a healthier way to do this. And slowly but surely I took back control. These simple attitude changes helped me cope better and feel much more in control.
Let Your Screen Be Dark
Turn off all your push notifications. This has to be the first step in change. You don’t need to have the latest update lighting up on your screen and have your screen blinking constantly asking for attention. This has two perks –
Setting an End Time Is Important
You need to limit the amount of time daily for browsing the internet. Have an alarm on your phone tell you when to stop. This reminds you that you need to take back the control.
Don’t Use Social Media Like An Escape
Checking our phones is something most people do when they are in a scenario which they do not find appealing. We believe that catching up on a mail or two or replying to a text is better use of our time. Don’t use the internet as a means to escape. There is a lot to learn from scenarios that you may not find appealing.
Let Your Mind Wander
Meditation is often confused for focusing on nothing and many people find that daunting. In essence meditation is focusing on one thing that’s fascinating like your breath or a scene and letting your mind wander freely.
Being Bored Can Lead To Ideas
This is something that is most hard for people to understand. When we have idle time, we want to fill it with screen time. Instead, let your mind come up with ideas. Start focusing on questions like –
Keeping Your Screen Away is Liberating
Connecting with friends can often be hampered by the scrolling screen. When you keep your phone at a physical distance from you, are slowly taking away the power it holds on you. Turn your phone into a landline (just don’t leave it at home!).
Your Gadgets Need A Bedtime
Similar to your dinner time being early, have a shut off time for your phone. You will not touch your phone after this set time, unless you get a call. A great way to do this is to leave your near the charging station, in a common area or make use of the Do Not Disturb feature.
Your Screen Time Needs a Replacement
Your brain needs to be fed, not necessarily by a bright screen. Notice when you use your gadget. Maybe while working out? When you go to the park? In the restroom? While eating? When you have new ideas? Substitute these with a book or board game or a pen instead. It gives you more focus and less strain on your eyes as well.
Be Aware Of Being Watched
One of the main things that encouraged me to change was realize I setting precedence for my children to use screen time to fill voids. This realization helped me be a better role model and now we all use gadgets more with need and less to reduce boredom.
Getting Personal Makes For Stronger Connections
There is a time for everything. For countries far apart, it is great to email, text or make video calls. But meeting in person or calling makes for stronger connection. Take the time and make the effort to really reach out.
Getting Your Focus Back is About Letting Go
The simple change that helped me was deciding to let go of the desire to do more. Now, if my husband comes to talk, I pause the TV. When my kids show me something I look at them, instead of reaching for the phone to take pictures. I do not use social media as much as I used to. I have stopped multitasking. I sacrifice some aspects but see myself regaining focus and meaning.
Originally published at medium.com