The days and times I remember being most peaceful, and as a result productive, were the ones where I deliberately stayed away from my phone.
I grew up without smart phone technology, so the worst I experienced being connected to the outside world in my formative years were a couple of hours in the evening where your friends would be on messenger. Aside from that, your time at home was just that, yours. To be at peace from life outside, or to be productive and work on your goals.
Now though, it’s an entirely different story. Not only am I constantly connected to anyone who has my contact details, I will sit with Netflix on and play on my phone, and it’s making me utterly miserable. It wasn’t until I was reminded yesterday by a quote on Facebook that we weren’t designed to be on constantly that I realised my low level hum of consistent bad mood was because I was always on alert for the next thing to do for work, or the next drama, whether from my personal life, or the outside world.
It’s amazing how easy it is to develop an addiction when you aren’t looking for it. Growing up I was aware that smoking, alcohol and drugs were potential areas of disaster when it comes to addiction. But no one warned me about the humble little phone. It’s more like an addiction to prescription painkillers than recreational substances, in that does serve a useful purpose. It helps us in so many ways, calculator, transfer money, chat to friends, or helpful distraction.
But the dark side, the sneaky side is there hiding in plain sight. “Oh I have my phone right here with its bills and calculator and banking apps, I’ll just check the money again”. “Oh my friends are going through a tough time, I’ll just make sure my phone is off silent and keep checking in case they need me”. “Oh I’m having a tough time of it at the moment, I’ll just keep going onto social media and checking what they’re up to, or looking for comparison”.
It all too quickly turns into a bad habit, whilst there are many useful ways that our phones do help in our daily lives and I wouldn’t choose to permanently be without my phone, it’s just hard to put it down. Hard to justify. And so we are constantly ‘on’ but we don’t know it. We are subconsciously aware that we can be there for our friends, we can do that quick task and so we should, or so the unchallenged logic goes.
I challenge you to rethink your phone use. We hear about social media and mindless scrolling being damaging, but take it further and you realise the whole phone set up is potentially destructive to your wellbeing, doing as much harm as good.
Even just twenty minutes away from your phone, with deliberate intention can signal to your mind and body it can relax. Say to yourself you’re going to aim for that even just once a week and I’ll bet that’s even harder than you’d think. When you notice your resistance to leaving your phone, you’ll understand how your phone affects you.
When you learn to be away from your phone, you’ll realise how wonderful it is. Now please excuse me while I put my phone down and take my own advice.