How to Get Out of Your Co-Dependent Relationship With Your Phone

phone addiction

No one knows me like my iPhone knows me.

When I’m on the couch, iPhone reminds me to open Instagram for visual inspiration with a side of mild stalking. When I jump in the car to head to work, iPhone reminds me to play a hilarious podcast. I start and end my day staring at its small screen, getting up-to-the-minute info on the most controversial finale in Bachelor history and reading life updates from people I haven’t spoken to since high school. I’m a little obsessed – and I’m not unusual.

The average smartphone user touches their device 2,617 times per day – more than 100 times per hour, and that’s including all of the hours we’d be asleep if not for that sweet, sweet blue light.

Smartphone overuse has been connected to poor posture, respiratory problems, eyesight and sleep issues. In addition to health problems, smartphone usage is distracting, cutting down on both our productivity and our ability to fully immerse ourselves into enjoying activities with family and friends.

Even with the benefits of cutting back on mobile phone usage, it remains a challenge for all of us. Here are some quick tips for repairing an addictive relationship with your little sidekick.

Separate yourselves

Smartphone addiction is fueled by our need to always have Siri at our side. To start the healing process, implement boundaries between you and your phone. When you’re not actively using your phone (texting, streaming a video, using Waze for directions, etc.), place it somewhere out of reach. More often than not, we grab our phones out of instinct versus having an active need to be on them. In fact, of the thousands of times we touch the phone per day, less than half of these sessions include actually unlocking it. Stashing your smartphone out of reach within the same room will help reduce the passive pick-ups.

Set a time limit

“I’ll keep scrolling until 10:15, then I HAVE to shut off … wait, how is it 10:42 all of a sudden?!” We’ve all been there, with the best of intentions to log off our phones after a designated amount of time, then somehow ending up way off from our goal. The truth is, there is always more to scroll through, making getting off our devices a major challenge. Jolt yourself into action by starting your smartphone session with setting your device’s alarm. When the alarm goes off, you’ll get a loud and visual reminder that it’s time to find a different activity.

There’s an app for that

There’s a certain irony in using your phone to fix your phone problem, but we’re just here for what works. Onward tracks your screen time throughout the day and lets you block unwanted apps and websites. SPACE allows you to set goals and celebrate milestones along the way. Currently only available on Android, Off the Grid locks your phone for certain lengths of time or even starting at a designated time each day. While you’re “off the grid,” you still receive calls from your whitelisted numbers (parents, significant other, etc.), and the app will send auto-replies to texts. If you want to unlock during your off time, make sure it is worth it – you’re required to pay the app $1 each time!

Moderate your apps

Between social media, games, email, news, entertainment and more, the average American has 60 – 90 apps on their smartphone, using about 30 of these per month. This cluttered experience makes mobile usage distracting and pretty mindless. It also might mean you’re less likely to have a meaningful interaction with every unlock. Make your mobile experience more intentional by doing a digital de-clutter and getting rid of any app that you don’t use on a regular or semi-regular basis.

Say “no” to notifications

To discourage touching your phone, disable all unnecessary push notifications. Limiting needless notifications will keep you from gravitating to Facebook every time someone comments on a thread you’re on, or opening Twitter to find out that a few people you follow just followed somebody else. Turning off notifications centers your social media experience on you instead of every little action taken by your network. As a bonus, delayed gratification may make it more fun to eventually log into your app and see a bunch of notifications from friends.

Adopt a phone-free nighttime routine

Bedtime is one of our favorite times to be on our phones, but it’s also one of the best times to stay off of them; phone time before bed decreases our brain’s ability to produce melatonin, which impacts how we fall asleep. Additionally, it can be mentally tough to relax and ease into sleep if we’re stressing through work emails, comparing ourselves to impossible Instagram influencers or reading the news of the day. Experts suggest logging off from your phone about an hour before you go to sleep. To ensure you stay away from your smartphone, adopt an evening routine that helps you unwind and prepare for sleep.

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About Emily Baseman

Emily Baseman considers herself a fitness generalist. A firm believer that wellness is found by giving your body what it deserves, she is dedicated to working out regularly, drinking lots of water, and eating plenty of vegetables. From barre to HIIT to yoga to cycling, Emily loves to work up a sweat running around to take in a little bit of everything. She is a midwestern transplant to Washington, DC, currently working, cooking, and exploring the fitness scene in our nation's capital. By day, Emily helps social impact brands and nonprofits use social media to tell their philanthropic stories. She's obsessed with her dog, Bascom, red wine, and cheese of all kinds.