The other night, my husband and I were watching a movie. About half way through, he paused it to make a cup of tea for us. Whilst I was waiting, I noticed that I started getting agitated. I felt restless, edgy, jumpy.
Why was this was happening? I hadn’t been waiting very long. I was comfortable lying on the couch. Life was good.
And then it dawned on me.
Usually as I’m waiting for someone or something, I grab my phone and play around with it. But on this night, my phone was being charged and so it wasn’t next to me.
Now clearly this is a first world problem. There is no doubt in my mind that the fact that I couldn’t play with my phone was not a real problem.
What is concerning to me though, is that I felt so uncomfortable just sitting there without something to entertain me.
I then started thinking about the frequency that I pick up my phone throughout the day. And I realised that I do this all the time. I play with my phone whilst I’m waiting for my children to get out of school, whilst I’m commuting to work on the train, during TV adverts (or when a recorded show is paused). I was even playing with my phone the other night whilst I waited for the pasta to cook.
I’m not particularly active on social media. So what do I look at when I’m on my phone? I look at the weather, check my emails, google things, make notes of the things that I need to do. Oh, and I play games.
Nothing earth shatteringly important. Not at all.
So despite the fact that I actually have a lot of real jobs and tasks to do (which may surprise you given the things that I just confessed to wasting my time on), I am immersing myself in my phone whenever I find myself at a loose end (no matter how brief).
This reliance on electronic gadgets to ensure that I am entertained at all times concerns me.
I am someone who likes and needs time to reflect on my life. When I do this often, I feel calmer, more clear-headed and in balance.
Despite the huge benefits that self-reflection gives me, I haven’t been doing this anywhere nearly often enough lately. And this has contributed to me feeling overwhelmed, uptight, on edge, fatigued and cranky.
For a long time I thought that I was feeling this way because I had too much to do. Specifically, I thought that most of the stuff that I was doing was for others, leaving little time for me.
And although it is certainly true that a lot of my time is given to others, I haven’t been using some of the snippets of time that I do have for the things that are really important to me. Like self-reflection.
So now that I am aware of and concerned by my tendency to pick up my phone whenever I have an un-entertained moment, what have I started to do about it?
Well, given that I really like technology and the things that I can do with it, I certainly don’t want to stop using my phone altogether. Rather, I want to use this new awareness to actively choose whether I really want to distract myself at this moment. Up until now, I have been mindlessly picking up my phone whenever a spare moment presents itself to me. So I have started to change this act to be a mindful choice.
I considered putting up reminders to stop turning to my phone for distractions. I even thought of keeping my phone in a different room to the one that I’m in. However, up to now this hasn’t been necessary. So far, I am very aware whenever I turn to my phone for amusement and have been able to question whether I really want/need to do so. However, if this starts to change, and I slip into old habits, putting up reminders is something that I will consider doing.
As I have been weaning myself off automatically distracting myself with my phone, there have been times when I have had the urge to pick it up. When this happens, I delay satisfying this urge immediately and instead I have started to:
– observe and notice how my body and mind feel (tense, busy, anxious, stressed);
– try not to judge my feelings (they aren’t good or bad – they are just there);
– breathe deeply; and
– smile and let the feelings go.
I then make a mindful choice either to play with the technology or instead take advantage of the moment to enjoy this time of quiet, calm and reflection.
Wishing you a happy day, my friends.
Oh! This is so me with my laptop. Mindlessly sitting down to it whilst I should be doing something else. Even though I only got up from it 3 minutes before! I’ve noticed myself doing it lately but haven’t taken the hint to be more mindful of it. Thank you. Message received.
So glad this was helpful. Let me know how you go.