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.