What is your relationship with your mobile phone? Do you feel bereft when you lose it, or leave it behind by mistake? Is it in your top three belongings you would hate to be without? I have to admit that for me, my mobile has almost become a part of me, and I am ashamed to say panic can still kick in when I mislay it or leave it in the loo at work.
Now leading on from Day 6 and our Digital Detox, feedback has been that most struggled to do it (and that was with the added bonus of keeping the mobile on!). This came as no surprise to me, so today’s Happynesshub Hint is for one evening only: primarily no phones at all, and ideally no devices. So it’s not really a ‘Sabbath’ (although that would be the goal), it’s more of an easing in.
Research shows that higher mobile phone use leads to increased distress and anxiety, which in turn affects wellbeing. ‘Britain has become a distracted society’ says Deloitte (2015). ‘Collectively UK consumers check their smartphones over a billion times a day’, they say, and that more than half of us smartphone users check our mobiles within five minutes of waking up!
I have been guilty of this for much of my life; but there was a 3-month period, when I took time off work, that my phone usage changed. I no longer felt this urgent need to have my mobile with me at all times and be forever contactable – wherever, whenever. I started using a wake-up light clock in the mornings instead of the foghorn alarm on my mobile (wow, did that improve my start to the day) and I didn’t turn my phone on for at least an hour after surfacing. When I went out to meet friends my phone was off (or occasionally with a ring-tone for my Mum if she was ill), and when I got back in the evenings, I read or interacted, no devices at all. Much changed during these three months, for many, many reasons, but what I can say is that this different approach to my mobile phone quite literally transformed my daily experiences.
Suddenly I found myself living in the present moment, not distracted, glancing at my phone, hearing the ‘ping’ of the texts or the ‘click’ of the emails; making excuses for needing to pick up because it was an urgent call from work. I found myself giving my friends my full and whole attention, or if I was walking down the street, taking time to notice the beauty around. Going back to the Happynesshub Hint Five and ‘being present’ that is what happened to me. I was there, living the now, no longer multi-tasking, brain-split, attention divided. I cannot tell you how fabulous this was, and until it happened I had never really been fully aware that I had been living my life, more often than not, not really ‘present’.
Now I know everyone can’t take three months out, and I don’t blame the mobile phone for everything, but I can tell you, for me it was a real eye opener. Some of my friends have a tech-free environment in their bedrooms. Now back at work, I haven’t gone that far, but I fully intend to try it because to me it makes good sense. So for today (or whenever suits) just try this simple task. Turn off all your phones for one evening and spend it truly in the present moment. If this seems unbearable to you, then I would say you need this one more than ever. If it feels easy, then go for a whole ‘Phone Sabbath’ day instead! Either way, please give it a try. I truly believe you will feel very different!
Please click here for further research on Phone Sabbath.