A week without my phone, what I learned.

Last week I had to send my phone away to get its smashed screen repaired. I chose to do it whilst away on a short break, but now I’ve returned and it still has not. My trusty companion; or the devil on my shoulder. Taking this time apart has been beneficial. I’m able to see our relationship in a new light, understand where things have been going wrong and make plans for how to best move forward from here. I still wish for a speedy reuniting though.

Noticing my phone habits

I consider myself an advocate for giving ourselves a break from our phones. I often think about how reliant we’ve become on them, and like to think I’m not as bad as most people. In reality I may not be as addicted as some people, but I definitely have my fair share of phone related habits.

Whilst away I found myself getting itchy at not being able to easily login to Instagram, Twitter and my emails. I don’t think of myself as someone who enjoys checking these things when on holiday, so this was a surprise to me; an indication that I’ve developed a bit of an unhealthy relationship with these aspects of my phone.

Take a break from your phone and you'll soon realise what your unhealthy phone habits are.

Now I’m back and still sans-phone I have this lingering uneasy feeling that people are trying to get in touch with me and receiving no reply. That they’re calling out to me, and I’m leaving them hanging there – their calls unanswered in the void. A feeling which brings awareness to how it’s become the norm to be constantly available, a state which no human should be in. The fact I’m feeling anxious about not being 100% contactable makes me think I need to create more boundaries around my availability.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the downtime filler that phones have become. Whether at a café or restaurant waiting for a companion to join us, or at home on the sofa with moments to be spare between to-do list items we’ve become used to filling that time with our phone screens. I am as guilty as anyone else for using my phone as a crutch to look ‘busy’ and prevent having to do nothing, and gaze out at those around us. Turns out, I was perfectly comfortable doing just this and not having a phone was liberating in such situations. I definitely felt I was able to have a slower, gentler time on our city break being away from its constant glare.

Developing a more mindful phone relationship

So, although I didn’t deliberately choose this time out from my phone it’s been an insightful exercise. Phones are part of the world we live in, and I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. I don’t think we all need to part with our phones. They’re really useful and they enhance our lives in many ways. But they also drain us; just as a phone’s battery drains by being used, so our energy can drain by over-using them. This week I’ve learned taking time away from the phone creates space for slowing down, more human interaction and engagement with our immediate surroundings. When my trusted companion returns (which I still hope is soon) I’m going to work to cultivate a more mindful relationship with it. I’ll set, and stick to, boundaries around my availability; have extended phone-free time and maybe even go for a full 24 hours’ break each week.

How do you stay mindful with your relationship with your phone? Let me know in the comments below.

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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