Cell phones have a bad reputation. How to use yours for better health.

We're not going to tell you all of the reasons why you need a digital detox.

Because the suggestion to disconnect from your smartphone is like the suggestion to quit driving a car.

Like your car, your phone is just a tool that does a job.

(Okay, about 359 functions, give or take a few hundred dozen).

Your car can do serious damage: impale you on the steering column, get stranded on a deserted street at 3 a.m., take you to the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant that you swore you would never visit again.

Yet (apart from a few avid cyclists and hikers) most people have never thought of doing a car detox.

Because that would be neither practical nor necessary for many car owners.

It's the same with your phone.

Your phone is not a nasty device that causes anxiety, distraction, or insomnia without your consent.

In fact, your smartphone is just as capable of improving your health as it is of messing it up with it.

The difference is not in the phone itself, but in the way it is used.

By following the five step process outlined in this article, you will learn how to use your phone to improve your health, improve your sleep, and even get closer to friends and family.

Your personal health determines your phone health.

Many people believe that it is their phone that is undermining their relationships, their ability to concentrate, and their overall health.

That is of course untenable. After all, various studies have linked smartphones with sleeping problems, distraction, and something called nomophobia.1,2 (More on this below.)

Physical, social, and emotional health tend to untangle first, resulting in overuse of the phone. Which in turn leads to poorer health.

In other words, there is a vicious circle. Maybe you…

▶ You don't know how to connect with your grumpy teen, so connect to your phone instead, which costs your teen time and energy and worsens your relationship.

▶ You feel far too stressed at work that you compulsively check your e-mails, which leads to more work stress.

▶ lack of fulfilling hobbies so by default you will be using any digital game that piques your interest, which devours the time you could use to identify new hobbies.

▶ Feeling too anxious while sleeping, so grab your phone to distract yourself from the anxiety, but then your phone will keep you awake too.

You have the idea.

You can solve any of the above without your phone – for example, with personal family therapy, a heart-to-heart talk with your boss, an art class, or a few sessions with a sleep coach.

But you could also use your phone to solve them.

You might connect with this grumpy teen through funny cat videos. How about a deep breathing app to help you set a period at the end of your work day?

Perhaps you could learn to play the guitar by visiting the free online university, YouTube.

Or how about those nights when you are plagued by fear of hearing a yoga nidra or self-hypnosis session on your phone?

What is nomophobia and do you have it?

Nomophobia is the fear of losing touch with your smartphone. The name is the abbreviation for "no handyphobia".

And yes, it's a real thing that doctors diagnose

While you won't be able to diagnose yourself just by reading this or any other article on the internet, the following questions can help you figure out whether you should examine nomophobia with your doctor or therapist.

Are you very scared if you can't check your phone?

What if you need to turn on airplane mode during a flight? Are you constantly fiddling with your phone, nervously waiting to connect to the plane's WiFi?

Or if you've ever realized late that you left your phone at home or forgot to charge it, what happened to your mood? Did it crash within seconds?

Do you know how to calm down, comfort or entertain yourself without having a device on hand?

For example, suppose you are waiting in a doctor's office but cannot use your phone. What would you do to pass the time?

If you answered “Yes” to the first question or “No” to the second question, you may want to discuss the matter with your doctor.

How to turn your phone into a health hero

Use this five step process.

Step 1: think about what matters.

Frustration on the phone tends to occur when a person's identity (who they are) and their values ​​(which are important to them) are inconsistent with the way they spend their time and energy.

Let's say you consider yourself a “family person” who values ​​spending time with your children. In this case, it means that you are not doing what you value most when you spend in your screen every evening.

And that won't feel good.

To resolve this conflict, you must first identify it.

Our Identity Values ​​and Goals table can help. If you still feel lost, there is a fun way to find out. Ask yourself:

What makes you angry

Anger can be a sign that your values ​​have been violated. Some examples are given in the following table.

I got angry when … So _________ is important to me
Somebody lied to me. honesty
I got ripped off. Justice
My boss asked me to work late and miss my son's game. family
Someone was rude to me. courtesy

Step 2: honestly take a look at where you are spending your time and energy.

Do you devote enough time and energy to what is important to you?

Warning: your time, energy, and attention will always be limited.

If you say “yes” to what you value, you probably have to say “no” to something else.

Step 3: bridge the gap between your phone and your values.

We assume that you are not investing enough time and energy in what you value.

Because if you were, you wouldn't be reading this article.

Now that you are aware of this contradiction, curiously consider one or more of the following questions.

▶ When does the use of your phone collide with your values? When does it support you?

▶ Is the phone the most helpful tool for a particular task? How can you use what it does best?

(For example, if you wanted to connect with someone, could you actually … swallow … call them instead of just liking one of their social media posts?)

▶ Are there circumstances or situations where a smartphone and your identity / values ​​match or work towards the same purpose?

(If you are learning a new language as part of your "cosmopolitan globetrotter" identity, could your phone help you with that?)

▶ What are the advantages of your identity and your values? What are the advantages of using a smartphone? Do they even overlap?

▶ Does your phone help you do the things that are important to you? or does it make it harder to do these things?

You will use your answers to these questions to develop solutions (see step 4).

Step 4: be solution oriented.

In Step 3, you've likely uncovered certain things that you would like to do less or not at all – and others that you would like to do more.

To do this, consider using our “a little bit better” coaching approach by answering two questions:

  1. What could make it difficult for you to use your phone in a way that contradicts your values?

Here are a few ideas:

▶ Keep your phone out of reach when you want to concentrate on an important work project.

▶ Prioritize family time by using an app that automatically turns off notifications during dinner.

▶ Free up more time for hobbies by removing social media apps from your phone. (You can use them on a computer that you might find in an inconvenient place, such as the basement, instead.)

  1. What could make it a little easier to use your phone to match your values?

Some ideas to consider:

▶ Use the app to remind you to video chat with a relative or to take short meditation breaks.

▶ Sign up for a recipe-based email newsletter so that you can keep inspiring yourself to prepare healthy meals.

▶ Create a gaudy playlist that will make you go outside and run, take a break from dancing, or work out hard at the gym.

▶ Use an app that will inform you about the best walking, cycling and / or hiking trails in your area.

Step 5: celebrate small victories.

Many of us try to motivate ourselves with the proverbial stick and abuse us when we miss a target. (Dagnabbit! Just lost another afternoon arguing with strangers on Twitter! Why do I keep doing this ?!)

But when we coached more than 100,000 customers, we found that the carrot is much more effective. With that in mind, ask yourself:

How could you reinforce your new approach to using your phone as a tool?

Maybe you:

▶ Congratulate yourself every time you want to pick up your phone for no reason, but don't do it.

▶ Make a game of surpassing the “screen time monitoring” on your phone – for example, can you waste your time on some apps (such as one you use to make video calls with family)?

▶ Play with alternatives, e.g. B. with pen and paper to create a to-do list. But use the chic kind to make it feel special (and the phone feels kind of disappointing in comparison).

The best strategies vary from person to person.

So choose something that you (or your client) feel ready, willing, and able to do something that seems too easy rather than difficult.

Try some action and see what happens. Think of it as an experiment. It might work. It couldn't be.

Either way, you get to know yourself, which is always positive.

Keep experimenting – test one small change at a time and celebrate all those little wins, no matter how small – until you elevate your smartphone to the superhero status it deserves.


Click here to view the resources referenced in this article.

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