5 Ways to Create a Healthier Relationship with Your Phone

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

Smartphone surfing has become a second-nature habit, especially for those of us in the Gen Z and millennial age range who grew up with our own phones. You are not alone if you ever find yourself subconsciously reaching for your phone – even without receiving an alert or notification – to scroll mindlessly for an extended period. 
Excessive smartphone use is associated with physical and mental issues, including impulsivity, sleep problems, reduced physical fitness and reduced cognitive control, according to studies. Other research has linked neck pain with excessive smartphone usage among college students. The unhealthy habit can even endanger others when it’s brought out onto the road and you text and drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,308 lives in 2022.
The impulses – and in some cases addiction – caused by excessive smartphone use can be difficult to counteract, but it is possible. These tips can help you foster a healthier relationship with your phone.
1. Schedule phone breaks.
Whether you’re working from home or hanging out around the house in the evening, be mindful about scheduling breaks that keep your phone out of reach. Try blocking off a chunk of time on your calendar or setting an alert (ironically, on your phone) that tells you when it’s time to take 30 to 60 minutes off. When you’re mindful about a tech break you can engage more meaningfully in tasks or hobbies, as well as connect with loved ones, without the temptation of distraction.
2. Take the “mobile” out of your mobile device.
Do you ever find yourself scrolling while walking between work meetings, exiting a large event or walking through the park? Disconnecting from your device while on the move gives you the opportunity to process what you just experienced and be present in the moment. Consider powering down the next time you go to grab a coffee at work or head out on a nature walk, so you can focus more on the world around you.
3. Set your phone to monochrome or grayscale mode.
Setting your phone to grayscale mode may neutralize the normally loud, colorful intrigue of social media scrolling. According to a former Google design ethicist, a black and white display can help negate your smartphone reliance by making the screen less appealing. You become less likely to mindlessly scroll when photos and videos are stripped of their vibrancy.
4. Delete social media apps from your phone.
Social media is usually the biggest culprit of our sky-high screen time statistics. We’ve all gone down Facebook and Instagram rabbit holes that left us wondering where time went. Safeguard against the impulse by deleting all social media apps from your phone. Keep them on your laptop, desktop, or tablet only.
5. Use an alarm clock.
Many of us are guilty of reaching for our phones moments after waking up, which is an easy way to prime our brains for distraction first thing in the morning. Seeing or reading something negative right after you wake up can trigger your stress response and put you on edge. An old-school alarm clock can negate this issue. Try keeping your phone out of reach when you go to bed and rely on an alarm clock to wake you up. This tip can help you get into the habit of meditating, going on a short walk or journaling first thing in the morning. These mindfulness activities can improve your mood and get you focused for the day. 
Related reading:
Photo credit: Getty Images
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association