Healthy Phone Habits

Cell phones are as addictive as some drugs and the societal need for instant gratification makes unplugging anxiety inducing. Most of us have become reliant on our phones for work, entertainment and resources, but there are detrimental effects to becoming too codependent on your phone.


Have you become more involved with what’s happening on your phone than what’s happening in the world? Have you noticed cell phone induced stress, anxiety or depression? It may be time to take a closer look at your cell phone habits.


Adverse Effects on Communication


While using a cell phone is incredibly convenient and efficient for quick communications, meaningful conversations should be saved for over the phone conversations or face to face conversations. More and more, important conversations are happening over text messages. As a result the ability to effectively communicate is being lost. In a study completed by Przybylski and Weinstein (2012) provided that in fact, “the presence of mobile communication devices in social settings interferes with human relationships.” The evidence was strong and convincing; proving that in fact “devices have negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality, especially notable when individuals are engaging in personally meaningful topics” (Drago, 2015) (Pg. 2).


Facetime, Google Hangout and other digital communication services are convenient but unfortunately these can also have adverse effects on personal and meaningful interactions.


Missing the Present Moment


There is the constant urge to have evidence that you were at a party, concert, or outdoor adventure. When you are spending time with your family do you look around to find everyone on their phone? You could be missing your children growing up or miss the sentimental value of much needed family time because your cell phone is getting in the way of your human experience. Putting your cell phone down is the ultimate practice in being present.


Changing Your Phone Habits


Changing your phone habits can change your life, change your communication, change your stress levels and change the way you show up for life events. Here are some great ways to create more healthy phone habits. Creating healthy phone habits will result in your feeling more calm, present, engaged and connected.


Check Emails on Computer


When you are having a challenging time keeping your work and your personal life separate, it may be time to take your emails off of your phone. A great way to set a phone boundary is to start checking emails on your laptop or desktop. When checking your emails on devices besides your phone becomes a habit, you will eventually break the negative cycle of constantly checking your phone for emails. Changing how you check your emails will support your transition to more dedicated working hours. It is okay to leave work at work and practicing healthy boundaries can leave you feeling empowered and accomplished.


You Will Have More Time for Reading


Picking up an actual book is becoming less and less common with e-readers and audiobooks readily accessible. Going on a phone detox or deciding on phone free hours will encourage you to read more. Dedicate a certain amount of time each day to read your favorite magazines, newspapers and blogs, but leave your evenings open for reading a real book.


Phone Free Time at Home


This will of course look different for each person but set up a dedicated spot for your phone while you are at home. Maybe you set a time each day to leave your phone in your dedicated spot with your notifications disabled, your phone on airplane mode or your phone powered off. You will of course grab your phone when you are leaving the house, but leaving your phone in a dedicated spot reinforces boundaries and encourages you to turn home into a sanctuary.


Creating healthy phone habits also instills good phone etiquette like phone free meals, phone free driving, phone free movie and television viewing, and phone free interactions with important people.


Other ways to reinforce healthy phone habits are by taking into consideration where you are charging your phone. If your phone is on your nightstand it is likely you are going to bed within minutes of screentime and looking at your phone first thing in the morning. Screens before bed have adverse effects on our sleep patterns. By sleeping with your phone in a designated spot you can dedicate your early morning hours to self-care and mindful moments as opposed to scrolling through your phone.


Phone Fast


Set a reasonable time for yourself to be phone free, weekly. Maybe you dedicate this time to a hobby, exercise, friends, or family.


Do not spend time beating yourself up for backsliding to old habits, our phones have become an integrated part of our lives. The less time you spend being hard on yourself the faster you can get back on track with your healthy phone habits.


© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.