I often take my dog Cora on walks in our local park. The trail weaves through open fields and woods. While she gets all the smells, it is my moment of Zen. What strikes me during these strolls is the number of times I encounter other walkers who are talking on their phones or listening to music. As we have become more addicted to those devices, we are losing touch with the real world. Here are a few tips that may help you, if not de-couple, at least take a break from the constant screen scrolling.
  • The first step could be to change your phone settings. For example, turn off all notifications. The constant ringing and vibrating are powerful lures and can contribute to FOMO (fear of missing out). You could also put the phone in airplane mode or set the sound setting to silent mode.
  • Go analog. Stop using your phone and get an alarm clock. Those old wind-up models are still around. Plus, that ticking is kind of soothing.
  • While you’re at it – keep your phone out of the bedroom. Set up your charger in the kitchen or somewhere out of reach.
  • This may seem a touch ironic, but there are apps that can monitor your phone usage. A quick Google search will offer plenty of opportunities. Try it for a week. I’m guessing we all spend more time on screen than we realize.
  • One tip recommended by Brad Soroka is to put a hairband around your phone. You’ll still be able to answer calls, but it will make it more difficult to text. This also serves as a mindfulness exercise that can help you decide whether this interaction is necessary.
There are other suggestions, like altering your phone habits or going phone free for a day (or just an hour). But the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If phone addiction is a concern, going cold turkey will not be easy (take it from a former smoker). Small, incremental steps like those outlined above can help you become less dependent on your screen. Oh, and if you’re going for a walk, enjoy the sounds of nature. They are really quite pleasant.