Are you an Instagram addict who regularly tunes out of conversations to text? Can’t stop scrolling through your Twitter feed to see what’s happening in the world? (Same.) Well, it turns out that having a smartphone addiction can extend beyond actual usage: new statistics suggest that simply having a device in sight is enough for it to mess with your mind.
A study published in Social Psychology broke students into two groups and asked both to sit an exam. One group had their phones visible on their desks, while the other had theirs stored away. The result? The group who just had phones out on display (remember, they didn’t even use the device) fared worse on the exam.
It’s not just work and study that suffer when your phone is in the mix. Researchers in the UK found that technology can have a negative effect on real, in-person relationships. Having a mobile phone present during face-to-face interactions had a negative impact on closeness, connection, and conversation quality, particularly when discussing meaningful topics.
But you already know this. If these studies made you cringe inwardly, you’re definitely not alone. All too often, we’re more interested in what’s happening on Instagram than we are in what’s happening in the space around us. You don’t need to be a technology junkie to feel addicted to digital devices—we’re all guilty of being glued to our smartphones, checking back constantly for our digital fix, and even sleeping with it next to our bed. But girl, this isn’t your boyfriend. It’s time to let the iPhone addiction go.
The holidays provide a perfect opportunity to switch off, for real. Take a break from technology and enjoy some time reconnecting with your pre-internet brain—you know, the one that didn’t care how many likes you had on Facebook, or what Kate Middleton‘s baby bump wore next. So, switch off. Sign out. Unplug. Here’s how.
1. Let family and friends know about your detox plans.
If you’re anywhere near as digitally-connected as we are, your friends and family are used to being able to reach you anytime, anywhere. Going sans smartphone for a full day could spur a full-scale search party if you don’t notify the right people ahead of time.
2. Make sure your boss knows how to reach you.
Even if you’re not desk-bound all day, modern working hours tend to be more five-to-nine than nine-to-five. While technically this is your time, your employer will appreciate being kept in the loop, just in case disaster strikes.
3. Invest in an alarm clock.
Remember these? We hear they were all the buzz before smartphones became our all-in-one solution to everything. If you don’t have the luxury of an agenda-free day on your calendar, keep an alarm clock by your bed to avoid stressing out about running late.
4. Pick your detox period carefully.
Schedule a time when work won’t be expecting you to be on call 24/7, and plan ahead to make sure you have plenty of other activities to distract you. Cooking, exercise, sex, and finally cleaning out your cupboard are all worthy ways to spend your time. Or, try to go phone-free for a full day and night while you are busy catching up with family for the holidays, and actually enjoy an uninterrupted conversation.
5. Remember: the withdrawal will go away.
After unplugging, you’re probably going to suffer from iPhone FOMO. Don’t worry, the impulse to Google the answer to every question or constantly check your Instagram feed will pass pretty quickly.
6. Enjoy yourself!
Congratulations, you’re actually taking some time out for yourself! Feel good about your virtual vacay, and try to disconnect from current events a bit.
7. Retox responsibly.
Perhaps the thought of a full day and night without screen-time sends you into a cold sweat right now, but afterwards you’ll feel amazing. So don’t rush headlong back into all things digital! Take small steps. After going back online, try disabling push notifications from your social media apps, keeping your phone on silent, or storing your phone in another room during meal times for a couple of days and while you sleep. This will prolong that relaxed feeling you worked so hard for.