Mindfulness + My Smartphone
For the past few months I have read a lot of articles about being mindful, and it has got me thinking a lot lately. I am definitely a multitasker and a few months ago I started to realize it was taking a toll on me. I had a skewed concept of rest but knew something needed to change. I started to slow down. It gave my brain a break from thinking about a million things an hour.
"I had a skewed concept of rest but knew something needed to change."
In the last month or so the biggest realization hit. I'm dependent on my smartphone. I was recently reading an article where the author talked about how she got rid of her smartphone because she found herself prioritizing it over the people that she loved. I could relate to all of it. There are many times I'm talking to someone I love and something tells me that I need to check my phone, yet I feel disrespected when someone does the same to me. I've experienced too many times of feeling less than interesting because someone keeps looking at their phone or that I've needed to leave the table when I'm with my family or friends because something in me is drawing me to check if I have a new notification. What a silly thing we do to each other.
"What a silly thing we do to each other."
I love my phone and I love Instagram. I love creativity of all kinds and I do think it's a good platform for that. It often leaves me inspired and feeling connected. But sometimes I catch myself obsessed with checking this platform. I sit and scroll endlessly and aimlessly and it eventually starts to hurt my brain, leaving me wondering how much is enough.
I want to challenge myself and anyone reading to take the initiative and be more mindful of your time and your relationship with your smartphone. I wanted to write this when I felt like I was victorious over this, but sadly I am not. I'm very much in the process of trying to break the dependence on my smartphone. Here are a few things I have been doing that have helped:
Log out of Instagram between certain hours. The app is addicting, especially if you're like me and are all about those color schemes and aesthetics. I can scroll my explore page forever. I think someone would be lying if they said it never gets to their head. We all struggle with some sort of comparison or dissatisfaction with social media. Once I'm settled in for the night, I've found that choosing to log out of Instagram is refreshing. I log out at 10:00 PM every night. That way I can wind down, I'm not scrolling in bed, and I can read my Bible and journal without notifications lighting up my phone. It's a beautiful thing to wake up without those notifications as well. I don't have a set time that I log back on, but I try to read my daily devotional and some sort of article before I log back on for the day.
Spending long periods of time away from my phone. In the past few weeks specifically, I've tried to be conscious of leaving my phone in my room and going about other things. Throughout the day, my phone is usually on me. I like to listen to music while I cook or do my makeup and especially in the season we're in, it's a great way to stay connected with people. But I try as often as I can to leave it away from me. For instance, the other night my roommate and I had our church community group over Zoom and I made sure to leave my phone upstairs. We ended up staying in the kitchen late and before I knew it, it had been over three hours without checking my phone. It was lovely. A few nights later, my other roommate and I went on a walk and I left it home as well. It's a small step toward breaking that attachment.
Knowing myself. Everyone is different. I know some people can't even stand to have their Instagram notifications on, while others would find it silly to have to log out every night. It's good to be in touch with yourself and your mental state and know when it's time for a break. Especially during quarantine, I've learned a lot about when I'm starting to feel mindless and need a break from my phone. If I'm scrolling too much and feel insecure or like I'm losing brain cells, I know it's time to log out or put the phone down all together. Pay attention to yourself and listen to where your head is at.
Find other hobbies. I've found while I'm often settling down for the night and watching television, I still want to scroll my phone. So I started knitting. It's a great thing that I don't have to think much about, but it doesn't involve a screen and it's creative. Maybe find something like that for yourself.
"If I'm scrolling too much and feel insecure or like I'm losing brain cells, I know it's time to log out or put the phone down all together."
I still have a lot of growing to do as far as my phone goes. Here are some goals of mine that I haven't quite mastered yet, maybe we can work on them together:
Only do one thing at a time. Something that's continued to convict me is the idea of eating a meal without also doing something else. For some reason, it's hard for me to just eat my breakfast and enjoy the view of the blooming tree in my backyard. Something pulls me to scroll. But I want to be more mindful. I want to enjoy the sights, smells, and taste of the homemade breakfast and handmade kombucha I enjoy in the morning. I want to be okay with just being.
Be alright with just standing and waiting. The other day I was on a walk with a friend and he went into the grocery store. I waited outside for a few minutes for him. I initially grabbed my phone and started scrolling. Then I stopped myself. Why did I have to do that? Couldn't I just be there in that moment and take in the scenery? So I did.
Not looking at my phone when people are talking to me. This one is huge because it has hurt me many times, yet I find myself doing it again and again. I try to maintain a conversation while I'm also having another conversation. I laugh at thinking about how many times I've tried to listen to someone explain something to me while I'm literally reading something else on my phone. How rude. I want to be radical in a generation that's obsessed with constant visuals and connections. I want to connect with the person in front of me and never make them feel like my phone is more interesting than they are. This one is the most important to me. And I really challenge you all to work on this with me.
"I want to connect with the person in front of me and never make them feel like my phone is more interesting than they are."
I don't want to be a slave to my phone. I see so many people who are. But there's beauty to this life that we can take in, we don't need to document so everyone else sees it too. There are people right there in front of us that we can pay attention to and wildly love. There are moments we can stop, be mindful of, and just be thankful that we are alive. I hope you'll go on this journey with me to break the dependency on the smartphone.