“In today’s world, a misplaced or forgotten cell phone is enough to evoke a panic attack,” says clinical psychologist Lisa Strohman, founder of the Technology Wellness Center in Scottsdale, AZ. Beyond just emotional stress, Strohman says our tech dependency can also impact us behaviorally, physically, and interpersonally. So, what’s the best way to find a healthy balance? She shares five ideas:
1. No tech allowed in the bedroom
Otherwise, “You’re not really allowing your body to shut down,” says Strohman. And if you use your phone as your alarm clock? No excuses. “If you can go retro, your life will be simpler in so many ways,” she says.
2. Go outside—sans your smartphone
Take a walk, ride a bike, enjoy a coffee at an outdoor café. “Just set the phone down and actually engage in life,” says Strohman. Sure, you’ll be tempted to Instagram this beautiful park and that gorgeous flower shop, but that’s the point—your head is up and you’re actually seeing the world around you. “Don’t be afraid to trust your mind to hold that memory for you,” says Strohman.
[Related: Why Unplugging from Technology Can Help Us Enjoy the Moment]
3. Connect with people offline
Better yet, turn it into a challenge for yourself—maybe it’s, “I’m going to make three people smile today,” or “I’m going to say hello to two people.” It can even be as simple as making eye contact with another person, Strohman says. Just do it, and watch your mood go up and up and up.
[Related: 7 Real-Life Truths About Unplugging From Technology]
4. Create “tech-pectations”
Give your friends and family permission to disconnect by designating an area in your place where they can unload their phones and tablets. You can also declare an entire day tech-free. At Strohman’s house, she says they practice “tech-free Tuesdays.” “It shows my kids by example that it’s OK to be offline,” she says.
5. Balance out your day
Try to maintain a 1:1 ratio of tech time versus real-life time in your day. If you just sat in front of your laptop for three hours, take three hours of leisure time (read, cook, go on a run) in return. Strohman also suggests reviewing your cellphone statements to monitor data usage. “Looking at your bill can help you put things into perspective,” she says.
Lisa Strohman is the author of the upcoming book, Unplugged: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Raising a Child in the Digital World.
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images