#SelfCare for Your Smartphone
At TRU LUV, we love negotiating our relationships with our smartphones in effective, efficient, and heartening ways. We don’t enjoy stressing over unrealistic standards or oscillating between binge-scrolling and digital detoxes. We know that not all screen time is damaging, and types of screen time that are anxiety-inducing for one person may be empowering for another. We’ve listened to our hearts, studied our reactions, and checked with others to come up with some guidelines that have helped us and might help you, too.
Here is S-E-L-F-C-A-R-E for you smartphone.
Set an intention
Before you pick up your phone, decide what you want from the interaction and say it out loud. Distraction may encourage aimless browsing and binge-scrolling – a bit like entering a room and forgetting why you're there. If you say, for example, ‘I am going to check the weather’ as you pick up your phone, you’re more likely to remember do it.
Engage in etiquette
Research shows people feel ‘phubbed’ when you snub them in favour of your phone, and can even feel anxious simply when a smartphone is visible e.g. on a dinner table. Saying something as simple as ‘Let me check when the movie is playing’ or ‘I’m going to see if he texted’ before you pick up your phone can prevent people in your presence from feeling second-rate. [Journal of Experimental Social Psychology]
Look at your usage
Encourage yourself to use apps more efficiently and mindfully. Set a cap using a special third-party app or your OS, or even set parental controls for yourself — you could even enlist a friend to help keep you accountable. The goal isn’t to use certain apps less as a rule, but to look into your usage and think about what relationship you would like with your apps and whether you are where you want to be.
Not everyone wants to or is able to go off the grid for a week – but even disconnecting for short bursts can fail without a smart strategy. If and when you want to disconnect, prefer removing temptation over practicing self-control. For example, if you’re reading a book, charge your phone in another room so you’re not tempted to Google a word, and try writing down any comments or questions by hand. Or commit to a recipe from a book or magazine so you don’t scroll aimlessly between steps. And after successfully not documenting every step on social media, why not give yourself the gift of sharing a shot of the finished product?
Curate your scroll
Even if you need to follow certain accounts for work or social reasons, audit your feed occasionally. Ask yourself: Do certain accounts or topics leave you anxious? Even if they’re seemingly benign, it’s how you feel that matters. Do you follow people out of duty who leave you uninspired or even angry? If you can’t unfollow, mute as needed. Even just a brief break from someone or a topic can leave you feeling better, such as muting a relative's wedding planning while you’re in a break-up or a colleague's sunny vacation while you're in the depths of winter. Find specific, uplifting hashtags to follow so your scroll is peppered with something you love multiple times a day, like a favourite artist, food or animal. Eve follows grandmothers making pasta.
Arrange your apps
People who are good at self-control may not actually be better at it – studies show that they tend to structure their lives in a way to avoid having to use willpower in the first place. Rather than arranging apps by frequency of use, put your most heartening apps on the first screen, your work/life essentials on the next and your biggest time-wasters on the last. In dire times, hide temptations in sub-folders or delete completely. You could even add a mindfulness app (like #SelfCare) to your bottom row app drawer to help cut into the social media-email-app-social media cycle. [Journal of Personality and Social Psychology]
Reach for something else
Recent studies show the average person checks their phone once every 12 minutes, and can face withdrawal-like symptoms without it, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. You can retrain your brain to respond in a different way to that impulse. For example, every time you have the urge to grab for your phone, you could do a posture check and note how you feel. You can even try carrying a small object to keep your hands busy like a fidget spinner or a quartz crystal. [Asurion Tech Research; Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication]
End the day inward
Start focusing inward well before you put away your phone for the night. That might mean avoiding posting open-ended questions, engaging in debates, or going down research rabbit-holes in the evening hours. When it’s time to turn in, try night mode, flight mode, or an old-school alarm clock with your phone charging across the room. Keep a notepad and pen by the bed for notes to yourself, to-do lists, dreams, etc. This is a great place to put random musings instead of tweeting them out right away and waiting for audience reactions.