The Secret to a Healthy Relationship With Your Phone

Ever glance down at your phone and, before you know it, 20 minutes have passed? You’re not alone. From work emails, social media, reading the news and listening to music, it can often feel like you’re staring at a screen for the better part of every day. Needless to say, cutting back on aimless scrolling and funny cat videos is a common New Year's’ resolution for many people — but it’s not always an easy habit to break.

So why is it difficult to kick a technology dependence?

That’s what we asked Sarah Young, leadership development specialist at Zing Collaborative, a firm that helps people and organizations realize their full potential. Her advice? You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from your smartphone in order to have a healthy relationship with technology.

“I don’t believe we need to break up with our phones,” explains Sarah. “Our phones, after all, allow us to connect with others and build and develop relationships.”

So what’s Sarah’s secret to striking that perfect balance?

“We need to consciously be in a relationship with our devices, which means being very intentional about when and how we are interacting with technology, and the purpose behind the interaction,” Sarah says. “I believe that the issue isn’t with using technology, but instead with mindlessly using it, or using it from a place of unconsciousness rather than consciousness.”

So how exactly does one stay mindful while using technology? Here are four simple ways to start.

Check In. Before impulsively reaching for your phone or automatically tapping your email or social media apps, stop and take a second to evaluate why. “Ask yourself, is there a clear purpose?” Sarah advises. “If not, consider setting the device aside.”

Contribute. Do ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling without engaging others or contributing to a discussion? “If we aren’t contributing or having a conversation with others through technology, it could be a sign that technology isn’t the right solution in that moment,” says Sarah.

Rethink the Selfie. Instead of smiling into the camera for that perfect selfie, most of the time it’s best to put down your phone, look around, and take in the beauty around you. Sarah cites her last vacation as an example, explaining, “Many people were missing the beauty that was happening in real life because they were posing behind their cameras and selfie sticks.”

Consider a Break. “Research shows that people who are happiest, healthiest and live the longest have routines that help to offset stress ,” says Sarah. “We have the opportunity to do the same by incorporating little technology breaks throughout the week.” Designate time that you stay free of technology, like during a walk after work, reading before bed, or during your morning coffee.

So remember, the next time you’re feeling that itch to check your phone, stop and think if it’s really necessary. And with all that extra time, explore the space around you, do what you love, and congratulate yourself on breaking the habit!

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