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How to have a healthier relationship with your smartphone

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Implement these 4 tips into your daily routine for a smartphone detox and a reality refresh.

Oh, smartphones. They’re our lifelines, telling us what’s happening in the world, how to get places, when businesses are in operation, who’s dating whom, and answering our most burning questions, such as “Do narwhals really exist?”

But too much of a good thing is, of course, a bad thing. Excess cell phone use may be linked to increased depression and anxiety, as well as shorter attention spans and reduced concentration not to mention possible links between cancer and prolonged cell phone useAnd though many people use their phones to connect and meet up, addiction to our mobile devices can actually cause our real-life relationships to suffer.

There’s no need to ditch your beloved iPhone for an old-school flip phone just yet, however. Try implementing some of the following tips into your daily routine for a smartphone detox and a reality refresh:

1. Track your usage

They say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. With constant cellphone usage so rampant these days, it may be difficult to tell if you’re a normal, modern person taking advantage of advances in technology, or if you’re actually overusing your phone.

So start tracking your usage. Do you keep your phone on the table during dinner? Check it while you’re hanging out with friends? Use it as a crutch when you’re feeling socially awkward? Take it into the bathroom with you? You’ll likely be shocked by the amount of time you spend mindlessly perusing various apps, social media accounts, and webpages throughout the day. Two apps that may be helpful in tracking your actual usage are inthemoment and checkyapp.

Before reaching for your phone during periods of downtime, ask yourself if the reason you’re checking your phone is worthwhile and what other edifying activities you could be doing with your that time instead. Catching up on work, exercising, chatting with a friend, playing with your pet, or reading a good book will always be more beneficial in the long-run than surfing your phone.

2. Set boundaries

Go to any public place and notice how many people are staring at their phones. Then watch an old movie or hang out with your grandparents. You’ll quickly notice that the older generations are engaged in and appreciating their surroundings; they are not consumed with which Snapchat filter they’ll apply to their latest post.

Being phoneless is refreshing, but if you’re not ready to disconnect completely, start by setting some boundaries. Resolve only to check Instagram once in the morning and once at night. If you want to unwind with a game, set a timer so you don’t get carried away and lose track of time. If you’re at a concert or sporting event, commit to taking five pictures at most, then turning the phone off or store it in your pocket so you can be present and enjoy the moment. Set aside certain times of the day that are absolutely phone-free: walking the dog, eating meals, etc.

3. Uninstall bad-for-you apps

The Bible tells us to “pluck out one of your eyes if it causes you to sin.” So if Twitter causes you stress, or Candy Crush is consuming too much of your time, simply uninstall it. Don’t enable valueless time-sucks to tempt you, or randos and their inane comments to bring you down.

4. Embrace silence

Information overload causes us to feel anxious. Quartz.com reports on a new phenomenon deemed “Infobesity,” which is characterized by feeling “feverish and tired, drained, and weak.” Taking a tech holiday and embracing silence, the story says, may heighten your senses and help you reconnect with life the way it was meant to be lived.

If all else fails, a week-long hiatus from the smartphone may be just what the doctor ordered. Listen to Josh Turner’s “Lay Low” and drive until your cellphone “runs out of range and every bar is gone.” I bet you won’t even miss it.

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