We won’t tell you all the reasons why you need to digital detox.
Because suggesting that you separate yourself from your smartphone is like suggesting that you stop driving.
Like your car, your phone is just a tool that fulfills a function.
(Okay, about 359 functions, give or take a few hundred dozen).
Your car is capable of seriously hurting you: impaling you on the steering column, getting stuck on a deserted road at 3 in the morning, taking you to the window of that fast food restaurant you swore that I would never visit again.
However (apart from a few enthusiastic cyclists and walkers) most people have never considered doing a car detox.
Because that would not be practical — nor necessary — for many car owners.
The same goes for your phone.
Your phone is not a malicious device that inflicts anxiety, distraction, or insomnia without your consent.
In fact, your smartphone is just as capable improving your health as it is to wrap it.
The difference is not in the phone itself, but in how you use it.
By following the five-step process described in this article, you will learn how to use your phone to improve your health, improve your sleep, and even get closer to friends and family.
Your personal health determines the health of your phone.
Many people believe that it is their phone that erodes their relationships, ability to concentrate and overall health.
This, of course, is understandable. After all, several studies have linked smartphones to sleep problems, distractions and something called nomophobia.1.2 (More on that below.)
The fact is that physical, social and emotional health tends to fall apart first, which leads to excessive phone use. Which, in turn, translates into poorer health.
In other words, there is a vicious circle. Maybe you
▶ You don’t know how to connect with your grumpy teenager, so you connect with your phone, which takes time and energy for your teenager and allows your relationship to get worse.
▶ You feel too stressed about work, so you check your email compulsively, which leads to more work stress.
▶ You do not have satisfactory hobbies, so by default you use any digital game that interests you, which devours the time you could use to identify new hobbies.
▶ Feeling too anxious to sleep, so bring the phone closer to distract you from anxiety, but the phone also keeps you awake.
You understand the idea.
You I could solve any of the above problems without your phone—For example, with face-to-face family therapy, a heart-to-heart session with your boss, an art class, or a few sessions with a sleep trainer.
But you can also solve them with your phone.
Maybe connect with this grumpy teenager through funny cat videos. How about a deep breathing app that helps you put a period at the end of your workday?
Maybe you could learn to play the guitar by attending this free online college known as YouTube.
Or, on those nights when you are affected by anxiety, how about using your phone to listen to a Yoga Nidra or self-hypnosis session?
What is nomophobia and do you have it?
Nomophobia is the fear of losing touch with your smartphone. The name is the abbreviation for “no phobia on mobile phone.”
And yes, it is a real thing that doctors diagnose.1
While you can’t diagnose yourself just by reading this or any other article on the web, the following questions can help you figure out if you want to explore nomophobia with your doctor or therapist.
Do you have intense anxiety if you can’t check your phone?
What is it like when you have to go in airplane mode during a flight? Do you find yourself constantly playing with your phone, waiting nervously until you can connect to the plane’s wifi?
Or if you’ve ever noticed, too late, that you left your phone at home or forgot to charge it, what happened to your mood? Did it plummet in a matter of seconds?
Can you calm down, comfort yourself or entertain yourself without a device at your fingertips?
Say you’re waiting in a doctor’s office, but you can’t use the phone. What would you do to pass the time?
If you answered “yes” to the first question or “no” to the second, you may want to raise the issue with your healthcare provider.
How To Make Your Phone A Health Hero
Use this five-step process.
Step 1: Think about what matters.
Phone frustration usually arises when someone else’s identity (who they are) and theirs values (what matters to them) does not match how they spend their time and energy.
Suppose you see yourself as a “family person” who deeply values spending time with your children. In this case, spending every evening absorbed in the screen means you are no doing what he values most.
And that won’t make you feel good.
To resolve this conflict, you must first identify it.
Our Values and goals of identity the graph can help. If you still feel lost, here’s a fun way to find out. Ask yourself:
What makes you angry?
Anger can be a sign that your values have been violated. The following table shows some examples.
|I got angry when …||So _________ is important to me|
|Someone lied to me.||Honesty|
|I was scammed.||Justice|
|My boss asked me to work late and I missed my son’s game.||Family|
|Someone was rude to me.||Courtesy|
Step 2: Take an honest look at where you spend your time and energy.
Are you devoting enough time and energy to what you value?
Warning: Your time, energy and attention will always be limited.
When you say “yes” to what you value, you’ll probably have to say “no” to something else.
Step 3: Bridge the gap between your phone and your values.
We will make a wild assumption that you are not devoting enough time and energy to what you value.
Because if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
Now that you are aware of this contradiction, consider one or more of the following questions with curiosity.
▶ When does phone use conflict with your values? When do you support them?
▶ The phone is more useful tool for a specific task? How can you take advantage of what works best?
(For example, if you want to connect with someone, you could actually … swallow … named them instead of just liking one of their posts on social media?)
▶ Are there any circumstances or situations in which a smartphone and your identity / values may be okay or work for the same purpose?
(If you’re learning a new language as part of your identity as a “cosmopolitan globetrotter,” could your phone help you do that?)
▶ What are the benefits of your identity and values? What are the benefits of using a smartphone? Do they overlap at all?
▶ Does your phone help you do things that are important to you? or is it harder to do these things?
You will use your answers to these questions to come up with solutions (see step 4).
Step 4: Focus on the solution.
In step 3, you’ve probably figured out certain things you want to do less or not, and others you would like to do month.
To make this possible, consider using our “slightly better” training approach by brainstorming two questions:
- What could I do a little more difficult to use your phone in a way that conflicts with your values?
Here are some ideas:
▶ Keep your phone out of reach when trying to focus on an important work project.
▶ Prioritize family time with an app that automatically turns off notifications during dinner.
▶ Create more hobby time by removing social networking apps from your phone. (You can use them on a computer that you find uncomfortable somewhere, such as the basement).
- What could I do a little easier to use the phone in a way that matches your values?
Some ideas to consider:
▶ Use an application to remind you to have a video chat with a family member or to take short meditation breaks.
▶ Subscribe to a recipe-focused email newsletter so you can be continuously inspired to cook healthy meals.
▶ Create a playlist that makes you want to go out and run, take a dance break or hit yourself hard in the gym.
▶ Use an application to inform you about the best walking, cycling and / or hiking routes in your area.
Step 5: Celebrate the small victories.
Many of us try to motivate ourselves with the proverbial stick, reprimanding ourselves whenever we don’t achieve a goal. (Dagnabbit! I just lost another afternoon arguing with strangers on Twitter! Why am I still doing this ?!)
But we’ve discovered, by training more than 100,000 customers, that carrot works much more effectively. With that in mind, ask yourself:
How could you reinforce your new approach to using the phone as a tool?
▶ Congratulate yourself every time you want to pick up your phone for no reason, but don’t.
▶ Play a game by overcoming “screen time monitoring” on your phone; for example, can you reduce the time you spend on some apps (like the one you travel without thinking) and increase your time on others that you really value (like the one you use to make family video calls)?
▶ Play with alternatives, such as using paper and pencil to make a to-do list. But use the sleek type, so it looks special (and the phone looks a little disappointing compared to it).
The best strategies will vary from person to person.
So choose something that you (or your client) feel prepared, willing, and able to do, making a mistake in something that seems too easy instead of too difficult.
Try an action and see what happens. Think of it as an experiment. It might work. Maybe not.
Either way, you learn about yourself, which is always positive.
Keep experimenting like this, trying one small change after another and celebrating all the small victories, no matter how small, until you elevate your smartphone to the superhero status it deserves.
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