Let’s face it, having a modern smartphone is just so darn convenient! There’s just so much you can do with it – phone calls, e-mails, banking, maps, you can take photos, watch videos, listen to music and podcasts – the list goes on and on. Then, of course, there’s social media. How did we live without Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?
All this stuff is available 24/7, whenever we want it. And that’s the problem!
Before you know it, you’ve gone from simply exchanging text messages, to checking Facebook every few seconds – even at night.
The good news is, unlike physical addictions to (say) alcohol or drugs, phone addiction can be cured by willpower alone – as you’ll discover.
I’ll cover some of the ways a smartphone addiction can really mess up your life – in more ways than you might think.
It’s not that bad, it’s worse!
It’s no secret that a phone addiction can really mess up your life. But did you realize just how insidious this addiction can be?
OK, first the science part.
When we do something we enjoy, our brains release a chemical called Dopamine. This is often called “the feel good hormone”. Oftentimes when you use your phone, and you find it enjoyable, your brain releases Dopamine.
Like all drugs (and Dopamine is, in effect, a natural drug) you build up a tolerance to it. This means you need more and more of it to get a “fix”. The problems occur then you’re not getting enough stimulation.
This can lead to a lot of negative symptoms. Chief among them are feelings of anxiety and depression. You NEED your Dopamine “fix”. You’re anxious for it, and feel depressed when you don’t get it.
If you’re someone who is always texting or talking to people via Facetime, you can feel lonely and isolated when you can’t communicate this way – even when you’re around other people.
Because social media in particular can be so absorbing and encompassing, it becomes a substitute for real life. This can lead to FOMO (fear of missing out) if you think something might be going on that you don’t know about.
Video games you can play on your phone (especially role playing games like “Doom & Destiny”) can be even more addictive – particularly in these strange times we’re living through today, where life under lockdown can be so boring.
Then there are the sleep disturbances brought on by the blue light from your smartphone screen. It tells your brain that it’s daylight – even when it’s really the middle of the night. If you’re waking in the night to check Twitter, you’ll find it hard to get back to sleep and will be like a “zombie” the next day.
Psychologists will tell you: The first step in breaking any addiction is to admit you’re an addict.
Do any of these apply to you?
You conceal phone usage from family and friends. You go to the bathroom or out to your car and go through posts on Facebook or Instagram.
You need to have your smartphone on 24/7. The “ping” when a notification comes in wakes you up in the night and you HAVE to go look at it. Then you find it hard to get back to sleep and are like a “zombie” the next day.
You take your phone with you everywhere and get anxious when it’s out of your sight. You have it with you at meal times and check it while you’re eating.
You suffer from FOMO and are anxious that something is going on that you’ll regret missing.
You lose track of time when you’re using your smartphone. You’re easily distracted – for example you just meant to check an e-mail, but the next thing you know it’s an hour later.
You text people more often than you speak to them – even when you see them every day.
You mindlessly scroll through your phone, even when you’re not looking for anything in particular. You don’t know what to do with your hands when you’re not holding your phone.
You feel “phantom vibrations” thinking you’re getting a text or notification, even when you’re not.
If you answered “yes” to more than a couple, there’s a good chance you’re a smartphone addict.
You need to face up to this RIGHT NOW. I’m not suggesting you have to greet people by saying “Hi I’m a smartphone addict.” But you DO have to face up to it. Once you know you’ve got a problem, you’ve taken the first step to solving it. The second step is to decide this all has to stop NOW.
PS. Something else you should decide to do right now is to grab a copy of my guide to overcoming smartphone addiction. Here’s the link OVERCOME PHONE ADDICTION.
If what we talked through yesterday has got you convinced that you’re a smartphone addict (or are in danger of becoming one) installment is where you can begin to fight back, wean yourself off your phone and rebuild your life.
The first step is to decide what you REALLY need your phone for. You probably need the phone part so people can get in touch with you in an emergency (and vice-versa). Ditto for text messages. You might need your banking app if that’s how you access your account. E-mail is another necessity for most people. Likewise your camera app. The social media apps you use the most can probably stay for now.
Delete all the rest. Everything. Come on, do you REALLY need an app that operates your washing machine? Some smartphones automatically flag and delete apps you haven’t used for a while. Activate this setting if your phone has it. If gaming is becoming a problem, delete that app, too.
Next, turn off notifications. This is important because it means you have to make the effort to respond to messages rather than have those messages demand an immediate response from you. Set a schedule for responding to text messages, answering e-mails and so on. Don’t check at any other time.
Set specific times for checking social media – especially time-robbing ones like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Stick to it rigorously. Set a timer to limit time spent and to stop you from getting carried away. If this proves too difficult, then delete the app.
Turn your phone off at night. Physically turn it off, don’t just put it into Airplane Mode or “Do not disturb”. Charge it away from your bedroom so you’re not tempted to look at it during the night. Divert calls to your landline at this time.
All this takes discipline, but it’s the easiest way of taking back control.
PS. Something else to do today is grab a copy of my guide to overcoming smartphone addiction. Here’s the link: OVERCOME PHONE ADDICTION
Are you brave enough to do this?
If you have a severe smartphone addiction, a surefire way to break it is to go “cold turkey”. This means doing away with all the addictive features on your phone altogether.
A lot of people will tell you that the best way to quit smoking is to simply stop doing it. Yes, suddenly going without something your addicted to – be it nicotine or dopamine – can be purgatory, but it works.
Are you brave enough?
I’m not suggesting you do away with a phone altogether – this isn’t the 1970’s – but let’s face it: All you REALLY need your phone for are calls and texts. So if you have a severe addiction, get a simple, old fashioned cellphone with limited features. You can pick one up on sites like e-bay for only a few dollars. Alternatively, reset your smartphone back to factory settings and don’t install anything new.
This can help you can overcome your addiction, because you’re simply removing the opportunity to fuel your addiction. Without access to social media, games or any of the other time-suckers on your phone, you’ll find you have plenty more time on your hands. Take up a hobby to fill this extra time. If you’re a compulsive scroller and have nothing to do with your hands, take up something that keeps your hands busy – like knitting, drawing, crochet or origami. Read a real book instead of an e-book. Go talk to people instead of texting them. Make real friends instead of the Facebook kind.
PS. There’s still time to get a copy of my guide to overcoming your smartphone addiction. Here’s the link OVERCOME PHONE ADDICTION.
Rebuild your relationship the right way
Once you’ve got your addiction under control, it’s time to slowly build a better relationship with your phone. The good news is that, unlike some other addictions, it is possible to go back to using your phone again once you’ve recovered.
This time, use your phone on your terms and make sure you stay in control.
Begin by slowly reintroducing essential apps. Things like your banking app, the media player so you can listen to music and podcasts, graphics apps and so on.
When it comes to social media, start with communications platforms like WhatsApp, and then move on to other, more addictive ones like Facebook and Instagram. Like we discussed the other day, set a schedule and a timer to limit use. If you find you’re spending too much time on social media, then delete the apps and stay away from them altogether.
Think twice about reinstalling games on your phone if gaming has been an addiction for you in the past. If you’ve managed to live without them this far, perhaps you should consider ditching them for good. Anyway, real life is more interesting and, ultimately, more rewarding than a virtual one. Even these strange times we’re living through now are something your great-grandchildren will never experience.
Make sure you don’t put work e-mail back on your personal phone. If you think (or your boss thinks) you’re on call 24/7, it’s just going to raise your anxiety levels. Of course, if you run your own business or have no choice but to have work e-mail on your phone, then only check it at set times throughout the working day, and never during your own, personal downtime.
Keep notifications turned off – for reasons previously discussed. Likewise, charge your phone somewhere other than your bedroom and keep it turned off at night.
Now you’ve gotten things back under control, and have a beneficial relationship with your smartphone on your terms, monitor the situation closely and nip any potential problems in the bud.
If you find that you’re starting to develop a “problem” again, repeat the steps we’ve discussed. Because it’s easy to get carried away, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of friends and family to help you in this. They can tell you if they notice you’re starting to spend too much time with your phone. If you’re speaking to people (as opposed to texting) and meeting real friends (as opposed to the Facebook kind) you’re much less likely to relapse.
Always bear in mind that you control your phone; your phone doesn’t control you.
Wow, we’ve covered quite a lot over. Let’s just recap:
We talked about how phone addiction can really mess up your life. I set you a test to tell if you’re a smartphone addict (or have the potential to become one). We covered the first steps to take when it comes to weaning yourself off your phone. I talked about how going “cold turkey” could be a radical (but necessary) step to take if you have a severe addiction. We covered how you can build a better relationship with your smartphone and how to keep things on track now you’ve “recovered”.
But you know what?
Within the confines of this short e-course, I’ve only been able to scratch the surface of this fascinating subject. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I just haven’t had the time to tell you about – like Gaining Control Over Your Addiction and Helping Someone With Phone Addiction for example. I go into them (and more) in my guide to overcoming smartphone addiction. It’s still available. Grab your copy right now from OVERCOME PHONE ADDICTION then print it out so you don’t have to read it on your phone.
To your success!
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