TRU LUV x Cadillac
#SelfCare for your Smartphone
At TRU LUV, negotiating our relationships with our smartphones to be joyful, efficient, and effective. We don’t like stressing over unrealistic standards, or oscillating between binge-scrolling and digital detoxes. We know that not all screen time is damaging, and that screen time that is anxiety-inducing for one person can be empowering for another. We’ve looked into our hearts, studied our reactions, and checked with others to create this list of heartening guidelines that has helped us and might help you too.
This is #S-E-L-F-C-A-R-E for smartphones.
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 to 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.
Look at usage
Be mindful and efficient in your phone usage. You can set a cap using a special third-party app or your OS, set parental controls for yourself, or even enlist a friend to keep you focused and accountable. The goal isn’t to use certain apps less as a rule, but to be aware of your phone usage, the relationship you would like with your phone, and whether you are where you would like to be.
Not everyone wants to or is able to go off the grid for a week – but without a strategy, even disconnecting for short bursts can fail. If and when you do disconnect, prefer removing temptation over practicing self-control. 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. 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. 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 such as 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 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 your first screen, your work/life essentials on the second screen and your biggest time-wasters on the last. In dire times, hide temptations in sub-folders or delete completely. You can 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.
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. 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, 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.
End the day inward
Start focusing inward even before you put away your phone for the night. That might mean avoiding posting open-ended questions, engaging in debates and going down research rabbit-holes in the evening hours. Then try night mode, flight mode, or an old-school alarm clock while your phone charges across the room. Keep a notepad and pen by the bed for notes to yourself, to-do lists, dreams, etc. This notebook is a great place to put random musings instead of tweeting them out and waiting for audience reactions.