Nowadays, most of us are constantly mesmerized by our smartphones and other innovative gadgets that are at our disposal. We are much more connected to each other and have access to unlimited amounts of information just at our fingertips.
However, while we enjoy the great conveniences that smartphones offer, we often ignore the negative side effect brought about by our over-reliance on these devices: Addiction.
When you think of addiction, what hits your mind? Drugs, alcohol, and gambling right?
Those are the obvious culprits most of us know very well, but addiction by definition is being extremely dependent on something such that it begins to take control of your life and interfere with your daily activities, relationships, and work.
With the boom of technology, it’s becoming more and more apparent that addiction is no longer limited to alcohol or drugs. It now comes in the form of smartphones as many people no longer have control over their smartphone use despite its negative ramifications.
According to a study conducted by IDC Research in collaboration with Facebook, around 80% of smartphone users usually check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up every morning.
Yes, smartphone addiction has become a real thing. Whether it’s checking the email, cruising newsfeeds or checking updates on social media, the urge to look at our phones constantly is almost irresistible and that’s a serious problem.
I have been a victim of this unfaltering obsession and once I realized the adverse repercussions it had on my life for a long time, I took a step back to revamp my phone use and set certain limit checks in my life.
It’s obviously not easy to overcome a habit, especially if you are a chronic smartphone addict. But not all hope is lost. I was addicted to my phone and throughout my recovery process I utilized several tips, which I am going to share, that really help me stop checking my phone in the morning from the moment I wake up.
The Reasons for Smartphone Addiction
The causes of smartphone addiction are numerous and it’s important to identify them so as to take the right action. Some of the main reasons include:
Using a Smartphone as an Alarm
Most people don’t use alarm clocks anymore, instead, they insist on using their smartphones as an alarm clock which forces them to sleep with the phones close them.
This action means your phone is the first thing you get to whenever you wake up either to check the time, turn off the alarm or hit the snooze button.
The downside to this is that it can encourage the need to continue checking and using the phone after waking up. As such, you frequently get caught up in other activities on your smartphone that you find hard to stop.
Wide Variety of Smartphone Functions and Applications
Smartphones offer a wide range of functions and applications that encourage addictive behaviors. Some of the applications and functions I find highly addictive are social media platforms, mail service, and message service.
These apps and functions cause negative checking habits, especially if your phone is always next to you when you sleep. Immediately you open your eyes in the morning, the first thing in your mind is your phone as you feel the urge to check it to see any new messages, notifications or updates.
Doing this every morning when you wake up can enforce repeated action that’s hard to stop which, in turn, is the recipe to becoming a smartphone addict.
Availability of Internet
Besides the wide number of addictive functions and applications, the internet is another major factor that provokes most people to use smartphones more and more. It makes things simpler and helps us find the information we need via our phones.
As a result, many people nowadays have forgotten about newspapers and magazines since they are able to access and read newspapers online through their smartphones and at the comfort of their bed.
This reliance on smartphones for reading books or checking news feeds in the morning leads to the need to use the phone each time one wakes up and eventually results in addiction.
The Effects of Smartphone Addiction
Compulsive use of smartphones causes distraction and divided attention which can negatively affect your personal life and relationships.
When you spend too much time on your phone at home, you end up having much less time to spend engaging and giving your full attention to your spouse and kids.
It limits your time with family and it can even lead to negligence or delay of some responsibilities at home like attending to your kids in the morning.
This behavioral addiction can be detrimental, particularly to children who are increasingly ignored by their smartphone obsessed parents.
Too much phone use may also prompt trust issues with your partner. When you attend to your smartphone instead of your partner, it can feel like rejection.
Your partner may feel ignored which is as bad as a feeling being shunned. Worse, your partner may develop trust issues as they wonder if you are communicating with someone else or messaging with an ex via social media.
Short Attention Span
Extensive use of smartphones can interfere with your ability to focus longer, especially when dealing with complicated tasks.
In a study carried out by Microsoft Corp. Canada, our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since the start of the 21st century. The report states that the reduction is a result of heavy smartphone use and the availability of a lot of content.
That’s nothing but the truth because there are a wide variety and abundance of content on the web and on social media platforms and when you are a chronic smartphone user it’s quite difficult to filter out irrelevant content.
You find yourself spending up to an hour or two just going through every news feed and gossip on multiple platforms. As a result, the tasks that demand your pure attention get compromised.
It’s difficult to smoothly transition from distraction to intense focus as the information overload that hits you before being fully awake affects your ability to prioritize tasks which ultimately messes up your productivity the rest of the day.
Exacerbate Stress and Anxiety
Turning to your phone immediately you wake up can negatively impact your mental health too. You are bombarded with new emails, messages, to-dos, and other notifications that are constantly pulling for your attention hence not giving you the time and space to start off your day calmly.
The need to continually check and respond to them often leaves one feeling overwhelmed and it’s more likely to increase stress levels.
Furthermore, a lull in messages can also cause anxiety, especially if you often expect or get constant updates from your family or close friends
There’s also the psychological grind that comes when you spend too much time focusing on your phone that can also leave you feeling completely exhausted.
6 Habits for Beating Morning Smartphone Addiction
Tackling smartphone addiction involves taking measures that will cut back your usage to more healthy levels which might be quite challenging and difficult at the beginning. Here are 6 morning-habits you can take to keep your smartphone usage in check.
Turn off the alarm when waking up
Like I mentioned earlier, most people tend to use their smartphones as an alarm clock which means they have to bring them into the bedroom and sleep next to them.
If you often do this, then the ideal step to take is to assign a specific location for your phone that will put it far away from your reach.
Every night when you set the alarm, put the phone in a tray or a table that’s far from the bed. This will ensure that your phone is not within your reach when you wake up forcing you to get out of the bed to turn the alarm off.
It will help propel you into action if you usually go through your phone while in bed when you wake up in the morning. It will also help you to hit the snooze less.
You can as well decide to use a regular alarm clock and put your phone out of reach to prevent the temptation of having to check messages and updates.
However, if you must use your phone, you can choose to turn off notifications and alerts leaving only the alarm.
Another useful thing you can do is to immediately face the phone down once you turn off the alarm when you wake up so that you are not compelled to start using it.
Do Exercises in the Morning
One of the best ways to deal with the urge to use your phone first thing when you wake up is coming up with a healthy replacement activity to checking your smartphone.
Meditating or other exercises like a short morning run are some of the healthy activities you can do to fill the time you would otherwise waste by turning to your phone as soon as you are out of the bed.
Once you pick the activity or activities that suit you best, every morning make sure you follow them through instead of checking your smartphone. Starting your day this way will make you feel calmer and in control.
You will also feel much less stress and your days will be much more focused and productive since you start them without a lot of distraction.
Drink a cup of water
Drinking a cup of filtered water upon waking holds many benefits. First, it forces you out of the bed to get the water which in turn helps prevent you from engaging with your phone.
Second, it can help improve mental performance and increase your level of alertness.
Research shows that dehydration is closely linked to decreased mental performance and can negatively affect alertness, concentration as well as short-term memory and physical performance. It can also lead to increasing levels of anxiety and fatigue.
Therefore, when you drink water in the morning right after waking up, not only will it make your more alert and awake but you will also have the energy to perform your normal daily activities to optimal levels.
Do Your Own Breakfast
Fixing a healthy breakfast in the morning is a good way to start your day without succumbing to the temptation of getting glued to your smartphone.
Whenever you wake up, take a few minutes to get ready for the day by getting out of the bed, doing a little exercise like stretching, then freshen up and prepare a healthy breakfast before plunging into the vortex of tweets, emails, messages, and Instagram posts.
By starting your day doing these healthy and positive things can really make a significant change to your relentless smartphone habit and help you build your inner fortitude to approach the day ahead with clarity and confidence.
In fact, making a cup of coffee right away after waking up can help you feel more energized and improve your physical performance in the morning.
Read a book, newspaper or magazine
Reading in the morning is another effective way of breaking the habit of checking your phone when you wake up. One of the biggest benefits of the morning reading, especially when you do it as the first thing is that you end up feeling a sense of accomplishment.
It helps you get into a motivated state which enables you to perform other tasks successfully and at your highest levels throughout the day, much more so than waking up to your phone.
Morning reading could also be very helpful to build up confidence and reinforce your growth mindset. Therefore, resolve to replace your phone habit by picking out a book or magazine instead.
If you love to read newspapers online or going through news feeds when you wake up, then make it a habit to get out of the bed and get yourself the printed newspaper.
When you commit to doing this each morning it will become your new morning routine. You will start your day more positively and as well avoid the temptation to pick up your phone first thing which only distracts you from focusing on what’s really important.
Make a to-do-list for your day
A to-do list is an essential tool when it comes to time management. It’s also a useful tool for breaking smartphone addiction. If you take the time to make a list of things you need to do, you can prioritize them and ensure that the most important items get done first.
In my experience, having a written list has helped me be more aware of my time as it makes it very clear what needs to be done that day. When I wake up, I try to work through that list to ensure that I am getting the things that matter most done first.
It makes you more organized and focused on the most important things, so you’re not distracted by the things that are not on your list or burning time going through endless tweets and social media updates.
Change only happens when you take action. Like all other habits, starting out is the hardest part because the brain tries to pull you back to your comfort zone, which is doing nothing about your habit.
You must resolve to do something else in order to control and stop your smartphone addiction. I encourage you to try the tips above, but whatever you do, don’t leave it blank.
If there’s nothing to replace that time when you are not using your smartphone, then you are highly likely to fall back to the same old habit.
Remember, how you start your day often sets the tone for how your entire day will be, so identify a few things or one thing you can do and make it your daily routine in the morning.
It will require a bit of restraint and a whole lot of determination, but if you are up for the challenge, you will be starting your mornings on the right foot and having much better days.