This post is a little late today, but hey, I drink tea all day long. To me, it is a lovely morning ritual, but it is also a lovely afternoon and evening ritual too. Another thing I forgot today is my cellphone. I left it charging on the counter when I left for the office this morning. As I was driving down the road and realized my mistake I felt a little pang. Should I turn back and get it? Thankfully, I’m not that addicted, so the thought was brief and I decided I could use a day off anyway. Ironic, I know, because here I am at a computer with all of the modern conveniences of a smart phone. Still, there is something nice about not being able to be reached at every second of the day.
My suggestion for you, especially if you are one of the many people who feel extreme anxiety over forgetting (or losing) your phone somewhere, is to take a day off. If you find yourself reaching for your phone constantly, feeling the need to check it, going to bed with your phone under your pillow or on your night stand, bring your phone into a movie theater or a restaurant, or even find yourself ignoring others because you’ve been sucked into snap chat or an online game, then this post is definitely for you.
I remember when there used to be telephone etiquette. Before the rise of the mobile phone, it was rude to call anyone during meal times. Phone calls were not taken at the dinner table. When guests were over the phone was often ignored or answered with a, “Can I call you back?” When cell phones were introduced it was still taboo to take a call in public. Now we lay our phones down on the table next to our meal. I get it, every once in a while there is an emergency and calls can be urgent. If you’re a business owner it is important that clients may reach you. But I assure you, unless you drive an ambulance for a living or are a surgeon that is called to fly across the continent for emergency surgeries, you do not need be available twenty-four seven.
Perhaps you might remember how scared people were of radiation from cell phones when they first became popular. Although cell phones now produce less radiation and there has been no evidence of cancer from cell phone use, there are no studies showing long-term frequent use because mobile phones have not been around long enough. In 2011, The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) classified mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic.” Just something to think about.
Cell phones damage our health in other ways. The light emitted from cell phone screens can hinder sleep. High mobile phone usage has been linked to sleep disorders, which in turn increases risk of depression, obesity, and hypertension. The electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones has also been linked to heart problems as well as difficulty with fertility for both men and women.
On a less scary scale, cell phones impact other parts of our lives, primarily our mental health and our relationships with others. When we ignore others, even briefly, or interrupt a face-to-face conversation because your phone beeped, you’re causing damage to your connection with the people around you. These little micro-interruptions quickly add up, making the person you’re with feel less important to you. Perhaps you know how it feels when you’re sharing an event from your day with a loved one and they look away to read a text as you’re talking to them.
Maybe you’re even addicted to your phone. Hint: you may be addicted if you feel like having a breakdown when you forget your phone at home.
By limiting your cell phone time (or even planning your cell phone use) you will be improving your sleep, your health, your relationships, and maybe even your sanity.
Here are five simple ways you can limit your cell phone time (or break your cell phone addiction):
- Have a phone-free day once a week or once a month. (If you are expecting any important calls, notify those people ahead of time.) You’ve got this!
- Follow simple telephone etiquette: don’t talk on the phone (or text) in public, work, at the dinner table, in a restaurant, or at the movies. The people around you will appreciate it!
- Don’t answer calls or texts before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. or schedule your own cell phone time table.
- Turn off your phone when you eat or spent time with someone else.
- Remove any apps that are too addicting, that you waste too many hours on, or make you miserable after you use them.
You may be surprised to find that your time spent off of your phone has freed up space in your life to build stronger relationships, be more creative, get outdoors and to be more active, or given you extra time to spend on a hobby or learn something new.
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