Living a healthy lifestyle in the 21st century requires evaluating your relationship with technology… and taking an honest look at your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors toward your phone.
The psychology behind technology usage is much more powerful than I realized, and the data is equally alarming and motivating. Thankfully, there are relatively simple (and free!) solutions that can make a big impact and encourage positive, healthy habits.
Let’s start with the ‘why’ before we get to the ‘how’ of managing our devices in a healthy way.
Why You Need to Monitor Your Technology Usage
Did you know that Americans, on average, check their phone about 100 times a day? I had no idea that the dings and notifications from our cell phones signal cause our bodies to respond in the same way as being in ‘flight-or-fight’ mode. Even having them nearby or in line of sight can increase blood pressure and cortisol (stress) levels. Yikes!
If you don’t believe me, think about the last time that you lost or forgot your phone…. hopefully you weren’t as panicked as I was! I am pretty sure that I belong to the half of adults who say they cannot live without their phone. And while this sounds harmless (and maybe a little dramatic), the more dependent you are on your phone, the more it has the potential to affect your emotional health and wellbeing.
If you still need a reason to evaluate your relationship with technology, just google the effects of electric and magnetic fields, or EMF. The constant blue light and radiation coming from devices is damaging to our body’s natural rhythms. EMF exposure has been found to damage our cells, infiltrate our tissue, harm our sleep, and age our skin. It’s no wonder we are always so tired, have trouble falling asleep and are experiencing anxiety and depression. :-/
Creating a Healthy, Harmonious Relationship with Technology
I love the perspective that technology is a tool, and that we should use it to our advantage instead of allowing it to dictate our health or behavior (thank you Dr. Harris). Let’s be mindful, strategic and diligent in how we use our smartphones. Here are some simple ideas that you can try:
Take inventory of where you’re at. Evaluate your tech habits and learn how attached you are to your phone and how much time you spend on it. Check your phone and app settings and/or start counting how many times you reach for it… it might surprise you!
Deprioritize your dependency. Reframe your mindset from “I can’t live without my phone” to “my phone is a luxury, not a necessity.” Find other ways to complete tasks that your normally do on your device (e.g., buy an alarm clock, write paper to-do lists, play board games, use a physical calculator). And resist the temptation to check your phone first thing in the morning… even if it means keeping it far away.
Set parameters around device usage. Decide when you are going to check your phone and how long you will use it. Some helpful tips include scheduling ‘device time,’ removing any unnecessary apps, and turning off any alerts or notifications that you don’t need. Take control by setting the limits and making the rules!
Reset habits with a digital detox. Digital detoxes allow you the time and space to reset your perspective, habits and dependency on you phone. Try one for a few hours, day, weekend or even longer.
Protect your sleep. Set the phone down at least two hours before bed to allow yourself time to wind down. Use glasses that block blue light, screen protectors, and/or ‘night mode’ settings to help protect yourself from screens that keeps you awake. And don’t sleep with your phone nearby (especially under your pillow). If possible, move it to another room.
Minimize Wi-Fi and EMF exposure. When you aren’t using your phone, try to keep it at least 3-4 feet away for you. Enable ‘airplane mode’ whenever possible to stop the Wi-Fi signal from communicating with your phone (turning off Wi-Fi and unused electronics at night is ideal!). When you do need your phone, consider using speaker or Bluetooth instead of holding it against your face and/or carrying it in a purse, bag or EMF-blocking case so it’s not touching your body.
Remember that YOU are in control of your phone… not the other way around. You are able to set boundaries and use your phone so it works for you and to your advantage. Let’s manage our technology well to have the healthiest, most balanced relationship possible 😊.