Lifestyle

Get unplugged, take time to relax | Family Matters

Are you addicted to your smartphone or mobile device? If so, rest assured that you are not alone. A survey conducted by SecurEnvoy found that roughly 66 percent of people are afraid of losing or being separated from their phones. The condition has been dubbed “nomophobia,” or the fear of being out of contact with someone via mobile phone.

Data collected by the Pew Research Center has concluded nearly 85 percent of Americans own cell phones. A 2011 survey by mobile app company TeleNav Inc., found that 40 percent of people with iPhones said they’d rather give up brushing their teeth for a week than go without their phones.

Today’s mobile devices are used for everything from checking stock quotes to scouring for coupons to keeping tabs on teenagers. Many rely on their phones for directions or to read reviews on local establishments. Many people have grown so accustomed to using mobile phones that their reliance has grown into an addiction. Who doesn’t know the person who is compulsively checking e-mail, sending texts or updating their social media status via their phone?

While there are many benefits to mobile phone usage, there are pitfalls as well. Instances of distracted drivers injured or killed while using their mobile phones are well documented. Some even believe that relying too heavily on phones can impair a person’s ability to focus and may intensify stress and feelings of depression.

Individuals who are looking to recharge their personal batteries and step away from mobile devices may want to consider the following suggestions.

• Write a note. Writing notes on paper can be a great way to express yourself. Think about how you feel while writing the letter and imagine the look of surprise on the recipient’s face when he or she finds it in the mailbox and it’s not yet just another application for a credit card within the envelope.

• Hide your phone. Put the phone in a drawer or closet and make sure it is turned off. Spend time around the house and grow accustomed to how it feels to be off the grid. Then do something as adventurous as running out to the store or to pick up the kids at school without your phone.

• Use old photos to reminisce. Take out photo albums and look over tangible, printed photos from times when it was commonplace to hold photos in your hands and not squint at them on LCD screens. Think about how many years you survived without a mobile phone.

• Focus on a fun activity. Invest your time wholeheartedly in an activity that you enjoy. Make this a digital-free time. Consider how well you can enjoy the time when you’re not multitasking on a phone or waiting for a text message or incoming e-mail to interrupt your train of thought.

• Get cooking. Immerse yourself in a recipe and cook a meal that allows you to relax and keep your mind off of status updates and tweets.

• Do a stream of consciousness activity. Jot down everything that comes to mind on paper and clear your head. You might be surprised at the results of such an exercise.

• Take a nap. Turn off the entire world for a while by snuggling in a comfortable spot and zoning out for an hour.

• Spend time with friends. Instead of texting friends to catch up, invite a couple of friends over to socialize in person. Face-to-face interactions can be a great way to unwind and share a few laughs.

• Act as a role model for youngsters. Children often emulate their parents’ behavior, so if parents cut down on their mobile device usage, kids might be quick to follow suit. Turn off mobile devices after a certain time each night. Make sure mealtime and homework hours are phone-free.

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