Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that we spent five to nine hours a day on our smartphones. That is lots of time!
Since quarantine has been implemented worldwide, we are more and more reliant on our smartphones to connect with friends and family. Personally, I noticed an increased time spent on my phone during lockdown. It is unavoidable as we do need to check on each other and stay in touch. In April 2020, Android Authority asked readers to rate their phone usage during COVID-19, an astounding 55.6% said it was way more than usual.
Heavy use of smartphones can become a serious problem when it absorbs so much of our attention and focus causing us to neglect relationships, work, school, hobbies, or other important things in life. It can also exacerbate many underlying problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.
• noticed yourself ignoring family or friends to read Facebook updates and losing track of the conversations? • been compulsively checking your phone while walking, driving, sitting in a meeting and not paying attention to what’s happening around you? • had trouble completing tasks at work or home? For example, laundry piling up and little food in the house for dinner because you have been busy chatting online, texting, or playing video games? • felt you are missing out on important news or information if you don’t check your phone regularly? • been getting up at night to check your phone? • gotten irritated or cranky if your scrolling time is interrupted? • felt dread, anxiety, or panic if you leave your phone at home? • been feeling phantom vibrations where you think your phone has vibrated but when you check, there are no new messages or updates? • caught yourself favoring the phone over essential goods? There was a study conducted by the University at Buffalo, N.Y. where college students choose smartphones over food after a period of deprivation from both. Classic!
If some of the above resonate with you, it’s probably time to reassess your smartphone use and strike a healthier balance in life.
All addictions including smartphones, cigarettes, alcohol, and junk food, are a symptom of a deeper lack in the way we live. Overcoming addiction begins with changing the way we live our life.
1. Human connection
Human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. However we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, living a life that constantly directs our gaze towards the next shiny object we should own, rather than the human beings all around us. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find. A smartphone addict has bonded with the phone because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.
2.Awareness of the addictive pattern
Eckhart Tolle, a respected spiritual teacher, refers to addiction as an energy field that periodically takes you over completely. The reason people become addicted to things is because they are not in touch with themselves, so they look for substitutes. When you notice the compulsive need arising in you, stop and take three conscious breaths. This generates awareness. Then for a few minutes be aware of the compulsive urge itself as an energy field inside you. Feel this desire consciously. Take more conscious breaths and be aware of the compulsive urges. As your awareness grows, Mr. Tolle states that your addictive patterns will weaken and eventually dissolve
3.Sunshine for dopamine boost
Dopamine, one of the main neurotransmitters produced in the brain. plays a crucial part in modulating focus, motivation, cognitive flexibility, and emotional resilience. Lack of sunshine and overexposure to blue light cause insufficient production of dopamine. When your dompanin level is low you can't make sufficient beta-endorphin, which is a natural opioid, and is the only opioid we know that doesn't cause you to be addicted to any other opioids. As a result, you will find other ways (eg smartphone) to replace this dopamine deficiency.
4.New learning and passion
Learning something new can make you happier and help build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It is a core need for our psychological wellbeing. It can also be a way of connecting with others. Doing something you are passionate about and having a role to play that you consider important and worthwhile propels you through life, making life more engaging and fun. An energized and directed life is one that also more readily overcomes obstacles.