Living in the digital age means downtime is less about spending time outdoors or reading a book and usually involves our smartphones instead – whether we’re using them to watch videos, scroll through Instagram or unwind by playing games. The digital nature of our world has also led to an increased interest in mindfulness practices to help us disconnect from our screens and be more present - something that’s easier said than done in an era where our phone is in-hand while commuting, sightseeing and during mealtime. Here are seven ways to transform your relationship with your device and be more mindful with how you’re using it:
1. Limit your screen time
It can be difficult to limit screen time during your nine-to-five, especially when jobs nowadays often involve social media. However, there are ways to unplug from the apps you’re not using while on the job. There are apps that will help you manage your screen time effectively while setting locks and limits on the apps you can’t stay away from. Alternatively, iPhone users can use the screen time feature to set limits on certain apps that they’re checking far too often. Trust us, nothing has changed on Instagram in the last thirty seconds.
2. Set digital time-outs
Implement a digital time out when you could be having a moment to yourself or spending quality time with your loved ones, and encourage them to do the same. You know how annoying it is when you’re out with someone that just won’t put their phone down – do you want to be that person? The strong willed can even set themselves a digital allowance, such as one hour of at-home phone time – and that’s it.
3. Turn off notifications after work
If you can’t help but reply to that after-hours work email when you see it hit your inbox, you may need to turn off your notifications when you’re off duty. This one may be difficult for the people pleasers, but if it’s an emergency, they’ll call.
4. If you don’t need it, don’t use it
Only use your device when you feel it’s necessary. Ordering groceries online and using your phone as an alarm? Totally not necessary. Buy an old-school alarm clock and walk to your neighbourhood grocery store for that chocolate bar – it’s only around the corner. Plus, being outdoors will do you good.
5. Dig a little deeper
Mindlessly reaching for your phone? Ask yourself why. Maybe you’re bored or lonely, or perhaps you’re out at a social event and you’re uncomfortable. No matter the reason, becoming more aware of when you’re unconsciously reaching for your device can help you understand your habits and how to better react to them. If you’re lonely or bored, use it to call a friend and set up a lunch date. At an event? Smile at the person next to you and ask them how their night is going – chances are they’re feeling just as awkward.
6. Phone-free zones
The dinner table, the family room… the bathroom. All places your phone doesn’t need to be. Anyway, who wants to bring their phone to the bathroom and then put it on the dining table? Gross.
7. Take the plunge
If you’re ready to go all in, try leaving your phone at home next time you’re out walking the dog, going to the gym or other short activities where you really don’t need to bring it along. It’ll feel strangely liberating and will remind you that, actually, everyone you know isn’t going to call you as soon as you’ve left the house.
Now we’re not saying you need to give up your phone completely, because let’s be honest, that’s not going to work for anyone. We’re simply suggesting ways to improve your relationship with it. Also, you’ll enjoy living in a world where you don’t have to anxiously pat your pockets every time you go to a new location.