The Sanvello team has been talking a lot about our relationships with our phones this month and you know what? It’s really helping. No one here is doing it perfectly, but it turns out that getting more honest about our phone habits is helping us to build better boundaries when it comes to these addictive devices.
After our initial cringeworthy screen time admissions (those late night TikTok scrolls are a beast), we put our heads together to come up with realistic solutions for how we can all take our power back from our phones. The result? A daily phone routine that keeps us connected with the outside world, without distracting us from the highs and lows of reality.
Want to build a new routine too? Read on for small steps you can take to unplug and unwind from morning to night.
Protect your morning routine
Waking up to a list of intense news alerts and calendar reminders can send our stress levels through the roof before we’ve even had the chance to get out of bed. So, instead of reaching for my phone first thing, I’ve tried turning towards more calming techniques. Give ‘em a try and you’ll be taking a step towards a better start to your day. And don’t worry, those news alerts will still be there whenever you’re ready.
- Jot down 3 things. I’ve been keeping a journal by my bed and taking a couple of minutes to write down a few things that I’m grateful for at the moment. Today I wrote: my sleeping dog, a beautiful sunrise, and comfy pjs. It helps because I tend to reach for something (ahem, my phone) when I first open my eyes. Thanks to this hack, I’m getting out of bed less grumpy and more grateful.
- Stretch it out. Getting into our bodies instead of our phone screens can really shift our outlook for the day ahead. A quick neck rotation or child’s pose, along with deep breathing, is a gentle way to relax our muscles, relieve stress, and wake up our minds.
- Do something just for you. What brings you joy and calm? Maybe it’s reading a chapter of your book, going for a run, or making up your bed. Sure, mornings can be hectic, but when we’re not glued to our phones, we have a little extra time to give back to making ourselves feel good.
Remedy the mid-day mehs
I’ve noticed that around 2 PM my ever-growing to-do list begins to wear me down and I start to feel isolated working from home. It’s so much easier to scroll Instagram than to sit with uncomfortable feelings like loneliness and anxiety. But, excessive time spent on that app usually just makes me feel worse.
So, instead of numbing out on my screen, I’ve been trying to turn to any one of these three tricks. Some days I pull it off, some days I don’t. The point is that I’m making progress and seeing how making healthier decisions affects my overall mood.
- Go outside for a few minutes. I never want to take a walk in the middle of the day, especially when things are super busy, but as soon as the fresh air hits my face, I feel better.
- Use your phone, just differently. Taking 15 minutes to call a friend when I’m in need of connection goes much further for me than spending that time scrolling social media. The act of reaching out to see how someone else’s day is going can get me out of my own head and provide some much needed perspective.
- Turn off alerts and turn on a playlist. Whether I need to power through a work project or just take a few minutes to move my body, adding music to the mix can get me out of a funk. Wanna give it a try? Start with our Get Inspired playlist.
Establishing better evening rituals
After a long day, it can be so tempting to sink into the couch and dive deep into a scroll rabbithole. There’s nothing wrong with having down time, but I realized that my phone was actually becoming a barrier between me and my loved ones.
For example, when my daughter is trying to tell me something that’s important to her and I’m glued to my email inbox, it feels bad for both of us. So, I’ve vowed to put my phone away for a few hours in the evening so that I can be more present for whatever life throws my way. Here are a few other ideas to consider if you’re feeling a little too tethered to your phone in the evening.
- Carve out time without screens. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here, but based on the realities of your life, try to find an hour or so in your evening where you completely disconnect from your phone. For me, it’s best to turn off notifications and put my phone in another room at night. Otherwise, I’m instinctively reaching for it over and over again.
- Don’t invite phones to the dinner table. When we asked our therapists and coaches about their #1 most important phone boundary, the most common answer was no phones during dinner. Whether you’re eating at home, at a restaurant, at a full table, or solo, having time to be present and connect with others and yourself is pretty invaluable stuff.
- Parent yourself by setting limits. We get it — sometimes a text needs to be responded to, the name of a song has to be Googled, or that special moment should be captured with a photo. Our phones aren’t all bad and suggesting you lock yours away for hours on end is unhelpful. Instead, take the advice of our therapists by setting a 10 minute timer to scroll on your device or utilizing the App Limits function on your phone.
By building a daily phone routine, you can learn to replace not so great habits with healthier ones, leading to more efficient and joy-filled days. We’re here to help you to continue to find the balance in it all, with a huge dose of self-compassion along the way.
By Katie Nave, Copywriter at Sanvello
Katie is a writer and mental health advocate living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured in publications including Newsweek, Glamour, Business Insider, and Motherly. She has served as a producer for the National Women’s March and worked with organizations like Girls Inc. and CancerCare. She is currently the Copywriter at Sanvello and you can follow her on Instagram: @kathryn.e.nave.