If you have social media you’ll no doubt be familiar with news feed scrolling, status updates and live stories. But would you like to learn how to use your phone more mindfully?
While many of us use social media to stay connected, becoming too absorbed in our phones can actually prevent us from engaging with the world around us.
It’s incredibly addictive too, with research suggesting that Brits check their phones, on average, every 12 minutes of the waking day.
So what can you do to use your phone more mindfully and really focus on the here and now?
Create a purpose, and set aside time for scrolling
Next time you go to unlock your phone, ask yourself if you have a purpose. We’re not saying you should banish scrolling altogether, but using your phone more mindfully involves monitoring the amount of time you’re devoting to it each day, and for what reason.
If you enjoy catching up on people’s stories, discovering the latest trends or keeping up-to-date on current affairs, set aside a period of time each day for some guilt-free scrolling.
Impose a curfew on yourself though, so that your evenings can be spent with friends or winding down.
Be sure to turn your phone off before bedtime and leave it on the other side of the room so that it isn’t the first thing you reach for when you wake up. This mindfulness practice will help ensure you don’t spend too many hours indulging in other people’s lives so you can focus more on your own.
Use your Loose Ends app to make plans with friends
Sometimes days and weeks can drop off the calendar before we’ve had chance to see our friends. While social media enables us to feel close to people even when they’re not physically around, nothing beats a face-to-face catch up.
If you’re thinking about how to use your phone more mindfully, this is exactly where the Loose Ends app can come in handy! Rather than just relying on daily digital updates from friends, the Loose Ends app harnesses the positives of social media so you can plan meetups with friends.
Then when you’re with your mates, make a pact with yourself to keep your phone out of sight, and explain to your friends that you’re learning how to use your phone more mindfully. This may even encourage them to do the same and rethink how they use their mobile phones.
If you must keep your phone on you, keep your use to the absolute necessities. Restricting how many times you check your phone will help you focus on the people you’re with and to live in the moment.
Use your phone to further your interests and hobbies
It’s easy to fall into the trap of throwing ourselves on the sofa after a day at work, whiling away the hours on social media until it’s time to go to bed. But with social isolation on the up, being aware of how to use your phone more mindfully could help you to better interact with the world around you.
This doesn’t mean switching your phone off completely, but it’s helpful to think about how you would spend your time if you weren’t on it.
For example, one way you can use your phone more mindfully is to bring your online world offline. Rather than wasting time on your phone alone, search for local events on social media, based on your interests and hobbies. This is also a fantastic way to meet new like-minded people.
Likewise, everyone knows that a healthy body makes for a healthy mind. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to exercise though, why not download a fitness app to help guide you along? Or if you find yourself easily losing focus, try creating an offline playlist full of your favourite high-energy tunes.
Then once you’ve stepped onto the treadmill, switch your phone to airplane mode so you’re not distracted by notifications mid-workout.
You may even find all you need is some company to motivate you. Make a Loose Ends to meet at the gym or local park and get your sweat on with your mates.
Pick up the phone
Have you ever been surprised to hear about a friend’s relationship break up, as they always seemed so happy on social media? Or perhaps you sometimes go to bed feeling inadequate after your nightly news feed scroll, wondering why everyone else’s lives seem so much more perfect than yours?
If you often compare yourself to other people online, or post seemingly happy pictures that cover up how you are really feeling, it’s definitely time to consider how to use your phone more mindfully.
Social media allows us to create a version of ourselves that we want others to see, but pictures and statuses don’t always reflect the truth.
A great way to use your phone more mindfully is to do what it was originally designed to do: to call someone. Don’t rely on your friends’ online updates to assure you they’re doing well; it’s easy for people to hide behind their screens.
Being more mindful about the potentially damaging effects of social media on our mental health will go a long way.
Check in properly on your friends and family and make sure everyone is as happy as they appear to be – if they’re not, you can then try to help, and you’ll appreciate it when they do the same for you.
Finally, have a digital detox
We know it sounds scary, but having a total digital detox is a great mindfulness practice.
Detaching yourself from your online presence will allow you to dedicate your time to the things you love instead. A break may also reveal just how much time you spend online.
Once you realise how much time you’re losing to you phone, you will probably be even more keen to learn how to use your phone more mindfully.
Get on your Loose Ends app before you begin your detox and pencil in some plans with your friends: book that bottomless brunch you’ve been meaning to try, or set aside a time to go to that exhibition you’ve been dying to see.
Let your friends and family know you’ll be taking a break from social media for a while so they know to pick up the phone instead – this might in turn encourage them to consider their own mindfulness practices, too.
Using your phone more mindfully: the benefits
We all often go on our social media apps when we’re bored or simply out of habit; but when we open up our phones without thinking, we run the risk of wasting hours online with nothing to show for our time.
Recognise when your online habits are getting in the way of real connections and don’t be afraid to take a step back if it’s having a negative impact on you. You never know what you might miss when you have you head stuck in your phone.
Make those all-important plans with your friends and embrace the world around you.