Look Up! What Happens When You Put Your Phone Down

Our society can be very high strung. Everyone is trying to get from point A to B, and it was supposed to have happened yesterday. In a society of instant gratification, it can be difficult to take a few deep breaths, relax and appreciate your surroundings. My solution; put down the phone and don’t pick it up. Yep, that’s it. Sounds pretty simple, and the effects can be astronomical.Smartphone

Our phones are devices meant to improve our lives, yet we are constantly becoming slaves to their every whim. How often do you pick up your phone? 20, 30, 50 times a day? The average person picks up their phone over 85 times a day (check out stat here). So what are you doing when you pick up the phone? Mostly, nothing.

We tend to go on our phones to check social media to see what our friends are up to, check email, or browse the internet for a shot of dopamine. The issue is that the more we look at our phone, the more addicted to it we become. The average person in Canada is on the internet for about 35 hours a month, which based on a 2015 statistic is the highest in the world.

We are becoming less human through the use of our phones, and technology. Humans are social creatures, and it is our very nature to interact with each other. The problem is that interacting through technology is not seen as the same thing to our brains. We are becoming more depressed, and less connected with our peers. Humans are obtaining more things, but fewer friends. We are more connected through our technology, but it is the very same technology that is taking away the most important connection we have with each other, face to face interaction.

Another issue arises when looking at a phone in the evening. Blue light from screens such as smartphones is harmful to us in the evening because it emulates the sun. It tells our body to wake up when it should be getting ready to go to sleep. This light is not allowing us to have a full sleep because our bodies are still awake when we go to bed. Our brains have been told by the light to wake up. So each night we are looking at this blue light we are doing harm to our well-being. We are also spending less time interacting with our families than families did in the past because of evening device time and internet usage.

To help myself become less addicted to my phone, and to get a good sleep, I decided not to look at my phone past 8 pm, a few hours before I go to bed. Now my body has plenty of time to begin to relax from the stresses of the day, and begin to fall asleep. This also gives me to time to read in the evening, work on any work not involving a computer (this still does exist), and spend time with my wife which is the most important part of my day. I also prepare my lunch for the next day, and get anything else I need for work ready. If I do look at my phone, I make sure to have a blue light filter turned on so that at least the light is not affecting me as much as it would without the filter. Most phones have these filters built into them now, but if yours doesn’t, you can download a free app that will do the same thing. I try to keep to this regimen during the work week more so than on the weekends, usually because I do not have a standard bedtime like I do in the work week.

What I have discovered now that I look at my phone less is I have better sleeps, waking up refreshed and ready for my day. I no longer have to hit the snooze button in the morning, and can jump right into my morning routine in a refreshed, non-groggy state. On the other side, if I do spend time before bed looking at blue light, like watching TV, I have trouble sleeping, and I do not feel as rested in the morning.

Now that I have seen success in putting my phone down in the evening, I have begun to expand my non-phone time. I try to now not pick up my phone as much as possible, and I really feel like I am not missing much. In the beginning it was very difficult to not look at my phone, as all addictions are hard to kick. However, now I feel like I could go for days without my phone. I often find myself wondering where my phone is, and then think to myself, when is the last time I had my phone? It is a good feeling once you are used to not having the electronic brick attached to you at all times. This also allows me to not worry about the amount of screen time I am getting in day.

So how long can you go without looking at your phone? Once you know how long (it may be only 10 minutes) try to look at your phone less during the evening to start. Trust me, the feeling you have after a great night sleep will be far better than that snap chat of your friend’s dog with the dog filter on it coming to you at 11 pm. If you need to be on your phone at night for work or something important, try to do your work a few hours before bed, or put on a blue light filter.  Putting down my phone was one of the best things I could have ever done for my health both physically and mentally. I feel much more connected with my surroundings, and present in conversations. I also do not have the yearning to grab at it every time I hear a beep that might be my phone, or just what I think is my phone going off. Try it out, the world will not come crashing down, and you will be able to enjoy more of what is around you.