How To Beat Your iPhone Addiction Without A Digital Detox

Fancy a diet from your phone without going cold turkey? Try these hacks, habits and (yes, really) apps

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Earlier this month Ofcom released a report about the depth of our obsession with the internet. Though findings about how time online leads to relationships, friendships and sleep suffering may not be shocking, the amount of us trying to switch off was surprising. More than a third of UK internet users had tried a digital detox, the new humble-brag term for attempting to spend some time consciously unglued from a screen.

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Advice for such a detox usually involves unrealistic steps like visiting an Indian ashram for two weeks sans iPhone, replacing your computer with a typewriter and setting fire to your iPad. Not hugely useful if you rely on the internet for your job or staying in touch with people. Instead we've found some ways to go on a digital diet and manageably reduce your screen time. you can still feel all smug and new age without the withdrawals of cold turkey. Win win.

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Keep your sleep sacred

The sleep-altering effects of the blue light your phone emits are widely publicised. Yet, here most of us are, refreshing Instagram as we fall asleep and checking work emails through the night. At the very least, put your phone onto airplane mode whilst you are sleeping. As well as making it less likely you'll keep checking your push notifications, it will also reduce chances of radiation. Buy an alarm clock that is not your phone.

Ideally charge your phone outside your room, or at the least the other side of it if you're a real addict. A survey by Durex found that 33% of people thought technology was effecting their sex life. If there was ever a reason to switch off, that's it.

Reassess your morning routine

Most of us are guilty of being woken by the alarm on our phone and the very first thing we do is check our notifications. Seems harmless? Well, no. According to Tristan Harris, Google's former Design Ethicist who studied how technology exploits our minds, "It frames the experience of 'waking up in the morning' around a menu of 'all the things I've missed since yesterday.'"

More bad news? Checking your phone first thing can trigger stress, as concluded a survey of nearly 2,000 workers in the UK which found that email notifications are linked to higher feelings of anxiety.

Remember these mystical contraptions?

Change these behaviours

There's no easy way to put this, your phone is making you a total bore. Checking for Likes during dinners and pretending to watch TV whilst WhatsApp-ing is turning us all into robots. It is difficult to draw a line on what is too much, so reserving some activities as being strictly phone-free is a concrete way to cut back. Meal times are an important time to socially connect with friends, partners or family. You should also focus on the food in front of you has been shown to help with weight loss and enjoyment of what you're eating.

A study at Virginia Tech found that "Even without active use, the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections."

The stack game is where your group pile your phones together during a meal at a restaurant, whoever breaks must pay for the meal. If you're not eating out or in a group, force yourself to put your phone on airplane mode. Additionally, make yourself leave your phone behind when you don't need it, like in a meeting or going for a run. Work up to a whole weekend without your phone, you'll be surprised how free you feel. These breaks from depending upon being entertained by your phone are important.

Adjust your phone settings

If you can't trust yourself to change, change your phone. Change the settings on your apps so you don't receive push notifications on your screen. At first you'll keep logging into each app desperately to get your fix, but stick with it, soon you'll realise nobody cares about you and it isn't worth constantly checking for digital affirmation.

The do not disturb setting on your phone can be edited so that select people can still call you. Try this for a couple of hours on a Sunday knowing you're not totally cut off but just taking a break from all those 'inspirational' quotes.

Try one of these apps

Now, it might sound counterintuitive to recommend apps whilst trying to cut down your screen time, but hear us out. These can actually help curtail your phone usage. 

Moment tracks how much you use your iPhone or iPad and lets you set daily limits on usage. You'll be notified when you go over and can set the device to force you off when you reach your limit. 

Freedom is an app that blocks the internet and social media platforms from your phone, computer and tablets for a prescribed amount of time. Once you block it is impossible to get back into the sites you've prohibited. Take the plunge.

Forest rewards you for not checking your phone with a flourishing forest. The app plants a tree every half hour you leave it open, but quit the app to check other things and your forest will wither before your very eyes. Although it does still mean using your phone, it turns ignoring your messages into an endurance game with fine topiary. 

Calm.com is a website that shows you streams of that lovely natural real world stuff, like a beach at sunset or a crackling log fire. If you are unable to tear yourself from a screen, then at least look at something meditative that will trick your brain into feeling is switching off from technology.

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