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A Slave to Technology? Quitting Your Addiction
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Look for messages? Check your emails? Scroll through social media? Do you check your phone instead of working on an important assignment, or pop on Facebook during a romantic dinner? Now, imagine your phone’s not in the room. If that makes you feel aimless or uncomfortable, your phone is interfering with your life and you may be addicted.
An addiction is when something begins to control your life, interfering with your daily activities, work, and relationships. The classic definition of an alcoholic is someone who wakes up to a vodka instead of coffee. But with the boom of technology, the signs of addiction can also be found in other places besides the bottom of a glass; it can also be found in the form of cell phones.
The brain changes as you grow reliant upon technology, and scientists have plenty of evidence to show that the interaction with phones floods our brains with the chemical, dopamine. When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates you to repeat a specific behavior. In contrast, low levels of dopamine are linked to reduced motivation and decreased enthusiasm for things that normally you’d enjoy. Thus, taking away access to your phone can bring on feelings of panic, displaced anger and withdrawal.
Simple Tricks to Help
With an addiction, the hardest but simplest route is to go cold turkey; however, this is very rarely advised, so a gradual withdraw is the best way to detox and cure your cell phone dependency.
A great way to do this is to distract yourself by focusing on something else – maybe cooking, painting or even shopping. This way, you will, hopefully, forget to check your phone every minute or so, and it even may stretch to every ten minutes or more.
Keep your phone out of sight, too. Shut it in a desk, or bag, and just take a peek when you have a break – a legitimate break, though, not one you’ve created just to check your cell! If it distracts you, use the ‘do not disturb’ mode, and again, just check at set times to get your fix.
Avoid taking it everywhere with you – bathroom breaks, making coffee, or collecting the snail mail, and stop taking your cell into your bedroom. Switch it to silent and use an alarm clock instead.
Try keeping your phone on airplane mode as its default all day, only taking it off that setting when you need to use it, and when you go out for coffee or dinner, leave it in the car.
The next tip is harder – are you ready? Delete any superfluous apps – such as *gasp* Facebook, and other social media sites. They aren’t crucial to your existence and as a wise man once said, Facebook is like a fridge—you check it every 15 minutes, even though you know nothing’s there. Honestly, you will get used to it, we promise.
Weirdly enough, there are smartphone apps designed to help you use your smartphone less – how ironic. These can be pretty useful in your quest to cut down, though, by showing you how long you spend on a particular app, and limiting your access.
It is widely acknowledged that at least three days without your phone is necessary to break that addiction, and when you decide to bring your cell phone out again, you’ll be accustomed to not using it so frequently. Surprisingly, it will feel really good not to be a phone slave, feeling lost without that link to the outside world. You’ll feel lighter, freer and much less stressed!