Whew! I’m not going to lie – this last month of working on not using my phone was really, really hard. I did not fully succeed, which is OK!
I was aware of most of the ways I use my phone, but the areas that stood out to me over this month were:
Using my phone to pass time. I struggled with this in small moments – waiting in lines, a couple minutes before a meeting starts, etc. I’m not able to pull out a book, or my knitting in some of these moments, so a phone is an easy way to amuse my brain.
Using my phone to give myself breaks. I take time to play a quick game, look at social media, etc. as a way to disconnect from what I’m doing for a few moments.
Using my phone as a way to stay connected to my community. I don’t have a lot of time to hang out with friends, or go to events, so I use my phone as a way to stay in touch, to do community organizing, and to coordinate meetings and meet ups.
Using my phone as a way to disconnect from everything around me when my anxiety gets really bad.
I also noticed that I was present more. I had more conversations with my partner, interacted with my teenager more, and (tbh) got a lot more done at work. I found that although I use my phone as a way to disconnect when I’m anxious, it often leaves me feeling more anxious, as I don’t have my normal ability to let social media bs roll off my back, and so I disconnect more, and it becomes circular. The times I really realized what was happening and put the phone down, my anxiety settled down faster, however, it lingered at a lower level longer then when I use my phone.
As a result of this experiment, I feel like I have more direction in where I want to go with mindfulness.
I want to learn to sit in small moments of quiet. During the days when I was not on my phone, I noticed, I often don’t know what to do with my body when I’m waiting. Like, I don’t know how to hold my body, and I start getting self-conscious about what my arms are doing, or if I’m standing up straight, or whatever. This is, clearly, tied into my anxiety, and I’m going to explore this more.
And, I want to explore how to sit with my anxiety more. To not just disconnect completely, but rather allow it to exist without destroying me.
I am going to continue to work on lowering the amount of time I am spending on my phone. I am also going to work on mindfulness in relation to my anxiety.