Posted on Thursday, 9th August 2018
It seems we are hearing more and more about screen time being detrimental to our mental health. Mobile phone use is a topic coming up more frequently with my clients in the counselling room relating to happiness. Some clients have said that our counselling sessions are one of the few times they don’t look at their phone for a concentrated period in the day.
I thought it may be useful for me to write some tips on reducing your mobile phone use if that’s something you’d like to do.
Buy an alarm clock
Lots of the advice we hear is to avoid screen time for at least half an hour before you go to sleep, and for the first half an hour when you wake up. In order to have any chance of achieving this we cannot use our phones as our alarm clock. So treat yourself to an actual alarm clock and leave your phone out of your bedroom.
Download + aeroplane mode
Many of you will have daily commutes. Being alone with our thoughts and practicing mindfulness and breathing exercises can be extremely beneficial. However, I realise that listening to podcasts or music or the radio is very helpful in making people’s commutes more bearable. So how do we do this on our phones without catching sight or a message or email and then getting caught up? Make sure you have whatever you want to listen to downloaded on your phone. Then when you step out of your door in the morning, put your phone on aeroplane mode. Leave it on aeroplane mode for as long as you are able, so you can enjoy your commute engaging in something you have consciously chosen rather than getting pulled into your screen with notifications.
Leave your phone at home
If this seems impossible start small. If you know you’re just going out for a short while, e.g. to the shops or for a walk, ask yourself; do you really need your phone with you?
Schedule screen time
Be conscious about when you are going to look at your phone. Be aware of what you’ve picked up your phone for. If you do want to just look through something like Instagram, give yourself a window to do it in and stick to it.
Be clever about where your apps live
Do you have certain apps that you find yourself going on, almost on autopilot? If so try putting these in a strategic place on your phone. Either remove them from the home page so they are not so accessible. Or, put them all in a group and give the group a name that makes you think about it every time you open it. E.g. ‘procrastination’ or ‘wasting time’. So it is a reminder to yourself of what you are actually doing by opening that app.
Use your laptop instead
It seems we can do so much on our phones these days- but that doesn’t mean we should. Anything you can do on a computer instead, e.g. sending emails, going on Twitter, researching restaurants, do it. Being on a computer is much more of a deliberate act. You’ve have to sit down, open it. It is a lot more mindful than a quick swipe on your phone.
Apps to help
These are general tips and only some may be useful to you. It may be helpful to sit down and think about what small changes you could make that could make a difference to your screen time.