Let go of your phone.

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.