Phone Break-Up | Week Three

2 Apr 2018

Smartphone addiction

~ I am doing a 30-day phone ‘break-up’ challenge from the book ‘How to break up with your phone’ by Catherine Price. Read more about why here and here. ~

Week three has been a slower approach, focusing on ‘reclaiming your brain’ with mindfulness. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, the first part of this week has been the least useful of weeks for me.  Days 15 – 18 encourage you to do the following:

  • Stop, breathe and be; a mindfulness exercise which is what is says on the tin. Stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath and tune into what you’re experiencing in the moment. In this context, it’s supposed to remind yourself to pause before picking up your phone; essentially creating a speed bump so you can decide if you actually want to pick up your phone. 
  • Practice pausing, aka be still. To be exercised in situations where you are bored and find yourself reaching for your phone; e.g. whilst waiting for a train. 
  • Exercise your attention span. The aim is to start building in activities into your day that improve your ability to focus – something that is damaged by too much smartphone use. You can do this with a variety of activities but the most obvious one is reading (not on a screen). Regular reading, extracting meaning from symbols, requires your brain to both maintain focus and simultaneously ignore everything else around you. It causes physical changes to the brain, improving the areas responsible for reasoning, processing visual signals and memory.
  • Mindfulness meditation; a form of Buddhist meditation that’s been proven to reduce anxiety levels. 

The most useful suggestion for me has been to practice pausing. When I automatically go to reach for my phone when waiting for the train, or whilst on the train to work, I resist the urge and just let my mind wander instead. It’s a small amount of time but I’m convinced I’ve been jotting down more ideas for my novel than usual as a result of my imagination being allowed to wander about. 

I’m all for adding more reading into my day but I’m doing that anyway. I haven’t found the mindfulness exercises particularly useful for me and, as a result, I think I’ve actually used my phone more this week than I did last week. 

However, this weekend’s task was the trial separation: 24 hours without my phone. Day nineteen was to prep for this and the book suggests a whole host of ways to do this (including automated texts and creating a physical contact list). To be honest, all I really did for this was to remind my dad of my home phone number just in case. I turned my phone off just before going to bed on Friday night and didn’t turn it on again until Sunday morning. 

Did I miss it? 

Our plans for the Saturday involved me wanting a camera on me so, surprise surprise, I took my actual camera. We also needed google maps a couple of times during the day but G had his phone on him. I had one or two times when I wanted to send a text to someone about something in particular but they just waited until Sunday, no biggie. 

Otherwise, I barely noticed I didn’t have it on me and even during the moments where I would have checked it (e.g. sat in a cafĂ© and when G popped to the loo), I didn’t suddenly desperately crave it. I just kinda accepted it wasn’t there and that was that. 

So, no, I didn’t miss it. 

The three weeks building up to this have definitely helped. My lack of missing my phone made me realise that my relationship with it has already changed quite a lot in the last few weeks. I’m already less bothered by leaving it in a different room for a while or not turning it on until several hours after waking up, thanks to this challenge; so 24 hours without it didn’t really feel like that big a deal. 

Long may this feeling continue.