A (sort of) Simple Solution for Anxiety, Distraction and Disconnection

Just put down your phone.

There I said it! Often in conversations with clients, there are complaints of feeling unable to focus on tasks like they used to, a general sense of unease that might include trouble getting to sleep, muscle tension, and feeling generally stressed and unsettled. Previously prolific readers are finding it hard to focus on reading a book. People are feeling lonely and disconnected from loved ones. Anxiety seems to be way up for many people.

I think it’s the rare person today who is not tethered to their phone and finds themselves reaching for it mindlessly and constantly. We end up scrolling for hours when we should be sleeping, grabbing our phones at traffic lights to check messages or headlines. I am aghast at the number of people I see scrolling WHILE DRIVING. We are looking at the phone when people are talking to us, ignoring our kids to look at Instagram, or read the most recent alarming news story.

Here are some ideas for using your phone less:

  • Put it in the trunk or backseat while driving.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Remove social media apps from your phone.
  • At home, leave your phone where you can hear it ring if needed, but out of sight.
  • Don’t use it for entertainment while eating. (I struggle with that; I love a good YouTube video on my phone during lunch!)
  • Try leaving your phone at home when you go out for a walk or for a quick trip to the store. The feeling of freedom can be lovely!
  • Try a new interface like Minimalist Phone (for Andriod) or Blank Spaces App (for Apple)
  • Change your phone entirely with “Light Phone” or “Punkt

And perhaps most importantly, don’t take your phone to bed. If you use it for an alarm, set it across the room where you can’t grab it without the effort of getting out of bed. Put your phone to bed! Mine goes in a drawer at night, close enough that I can get up to answer it if I need to, but inaccessible enough to not be a temptation.

So I challenge you to give it a try, maybe in a small way first. Pick a behavior to change and just try it for a day. What have you got to lose?