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Health and Fitness News

Off the Hook

Tips to end your phone addiction.

You may not want to admit it, but you’re probably addicted to your phone. The average person checks his or her phone every 15 minutes. In your 16 waking hours, that means you’re on your phone more than 60 times or an average of three hours a day. And it’s not hard to see why. After all, phones keep your calendar, put you in touch with friends and family, provide entertainment, take pictures, give you access to an unlimited amount of information, and allow you to work wherever you are. But are all these benefits good things?

Unfortunately, studies show excessive technology use rewires your brain to make you more dependent on technology, prevents you from enjoying life, hinders you from learning emotional intelligence, decreases your ability to focus, and interferes with face-to-face interactions. Millions of people are addicted to their phones because of how the devices fill an empty place in their life. People are often lonely, bored, mistreated, anxious, or insecure, and their phones help fill the void.

It’s never too late to create a healthy relationship to technology. Here are a few ways to control your phone instead of letting it control you.

Form New Habits

Instead of trying to break your phone habit, replace your habit with something else. When you’re tempted to reach for your phone as you relax in the evening, pick up a good book. Rather than checking Snapchat and Facebook, start up a conversation with your child. If your habit is to spend your lunch break or your evening on your phone, make it your new routine to go for a walk.

Move the Phone

If your phone is always in your pocket it’s a lot easier to check it every five minutes. When the temptation is across the room or at the other end of the house, you’re less likely to use it. At home, all phones should be kept in a designated location out of sight when not in use and returned to the location at a set time each evening before bed.

Set a Schedule

One way to become less dependent on your phone is to use it only on a set schedule. The best way to do this is by setting alarms. You can start with an alarm every 15 minutes and slowly progress to every hour. At the sound of the alarm, you have one minute to check for important information and then reset the alarm. If necessary, tell your friends you may not be as prompt in returning their messages as you used to be.

Part of the schedule should include set times your phone is muted and off limits. Keep your phone quiet and out of site during family time, mealtime, conversations, and bedtime.

Silence Notifications

Instead of running to your phone every time it makes a noise, turn off the dings and beeps and check your phone on your own time. Remember—you’re in control of your phone, not visa versa. You don’t need to be notified about every little “like,” message, weather update, or news story.

The cell phone has become the adult’s transition object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging. - Margaret Heffernan

Use Apps

There’s an app for everything, right? Well, instead of wasting your time playing mindless games and checking social media, download an app or change your settings to help you limit your phone usage. In the Do Not Disturb mode you can choose when notifications are able to make noise. In each app you can change the settings to turn the alerts off.

A variety of apps are available to curb your phone usage. The app “Moment” sets limits on the amount of time you’re allowed to use your phone each day. “Checky” keeps track of your phone usage as a motivation to help you cut back. “AppDetox” allows you to set rules about how often and how much you use each app. “Onward” tracks your phone usage, sets rules, and even provides personalized coaching to help break your phone addiction.

Whatever it takes to pry control of your life out of your phone’s digital hands, do it. You’ll be more productive and find yourself engaged in relationships with real people in new and exciting ways!

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