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Two weeks away left me with the clear information that I have a phone addiction

I’ve been traveling and it’s made me realize a few very important things about my phone addiction. For one, I noticed that it’s not just social media, emails, or texting that keeps me clicking all day long. It’s the news. Yes, I waste a lot of time on social media. Yes, I get into texting and can lose focus on what I’m doing. For sure, I’m always looking to see if an important email came in that needs attention. But, what was the worst while I was away was the constant looking at the news.

Tech companies admit how they program to keep us coming back and I fell hook, line, and sinker

My news feed knows me intimately and taunts me hourly with things it knows I want to see. Anything about mental health, I’m going to read. About 50% of the things I see about politics and entertainment, I’m going to read. An article about something counter-culture, weird, or a gruesome murder, probably going to read it. And, ANYTHING about animals, and it’s mostly animal abuse, neglect, or rescue stories (with pictures) and I will 100% read it. So, that’s what I’m fed all day long. Stories that trigger me in different ways. Literally, my heart beats faster as I see pictures of animals in horrible states of abuse and neglect and it takes me out of whatever I’m doing or feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to recover.

So, what happened on the trip that outed my phone addiction?

A couple of things. This was a trip where I had to travel to three different places and each one required planes or trains and automobiles. I found that when I was alone, I literally could not put the phone down. I read more news and was more triggered than I’ve been in a while. I scrolled through social media to the point where my brain felt numb. I was stuck in an airport for four hours yesterday but the phone almost made it worse. Then when I was with people, I found myself reaching for the phone continuously even though it was not appropriate and there was nothing I was looking for specifically. I just kept picking up the phone and checking the news, etc. Truth be told, it depressed and scared me. That is phone addiction.

The phone is great for communicating, getting information in real-time, and keeping us safe

But, for me, as it became clear it was a crutch on this trip, I feel the need to put it down. I’m returning to a love of books and I’m writing multiple projects. I don’t have the time or emotional capacity to read about animal abuse, murders, politics, or whatever else turns me on in sick ways. I need to stay focused. It’s important that I don’t let these stories that disturb and disrupt my day at a time where it’s distracting and destructive to the rest of the day. So, what to do?

How do I put down my phone?

There are lots of tips on how to break the phone addiction habit but I’m going to list the ones that I think are practical for me, and hopefully you. The first thing you can do is leave the phone at home when you’re not expecting anything important. I’m unlikely to do that and I can understand why someone might not want to. If you’re a parent or caregiver, that’s just not practical. Here are the common tips that I think could work:

  1. Change the phone to grayscale – this is what a lot of people in tech are doing and many say it cuts down on screen time and interest in social media. You can switch it in settings.
  2. Put the phone on airplane mode – this is a good one because you can have it with you but it won’t bother you. Also, if you pick it up, there’s that pause when realizing it is on airplane mode. That makes me less likely to make the effort to turn it back on.
  3. Leave it in the other room – this might be a winner for me. I can know it’s on and operating but it’s not close enough to pick up. And, a random alert won’t distract me.
  4. Social media hours – I have to get off social media. I know it’s going to be complicated because it’s literally part of my job. For the moment, I’m going to step down by giving myself hours. I can look when I’m done with work.
  5. Change your phone’s home screen so you don’t open your phone to see alerts on Meta, Insta, Twitter, etc. Move those apps to the back or delete them completely.
  6. Take your email off your phone – this only works for some. In researching this article, I found many executive types admit they deleted their email from their phone and it broke the phone addiction and made them more productive.
  7. Leave the phone for small amounts of time. I’m trying to break the habit of having to listen to something when I walk the dogs. Sometimes it’s nice to just be alone in nature and listen to the sounds.

Alright, that’s it for now. Let’s try these and I’ll report back in 30 days!

Check out my book  100 Tips For Growing Up

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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