Modern technology is a double-edged sword. I don't think I'm the only person out there that thinks it makes us happy and sad all at the same time: studies have shown that excessive social media usage is linked to lower self-esteem, so that's not good.
But aside from that, I realize much of the time I use my phone, I'm not actually using it to call or text people. Instead, I'm stalking my ex on Facebook, or scrolling through sponsored "get fit!" ads on Instagram, or engaging in some sort of Twitter war with an Internet troll. And, well, I wouldn't exactly say those are all positive ways to use technology. Most of the time, doing those things puts me in a funk that's hard to shake, but there are ways to actually use your phone in a positive way.
- Download Meditation Apps
I started meditating to decrease the clutter in my brain, and it actually works. It turns out your smartphone, paradoxically, is one of the best resources for meditation techniques. Some apps ideal for meditation are Calm, Headspace, and The Mindfulness App, most of which are free and available on iTunes.
If you don't want another app clogging up your phone, you can just do what I do: head over to YouTube and listen to some calming music. If you're restless like me, you don't have to sit still for 20 minutes, either. Start slow and start simple, meditating five minutes at a time and working your way up to a longer period of time when you feel ready to do so.
The great thing about meditating is that you can do it in your own home, and you don't need a fancy, overpriced class or hot rocks dribbling down your back. But the best part about it? It reduces stress and anxiety, and even has been show to change the brains of depressed people.
2. Use Social Media in Moderation
A few months ago, I deleted the Instagram app off my phone. As a former Insta-addict, this lifestyle change shocked my system a bit, but it ended up being more beneficial than harmful. When I had the app on my phone, I'd start each of my mornings by scrolling through the photos of people I don't really care about (or even see often). Now, I start my mornings with stretches and meditation, and I'm all the happier for it.
Some celebrities, even Kim K, admit to doing "technology cleanses," where they delete apps for a few days or weeks at a time altogether. You may find yourself spending your time in a more productive way by instead only visiting the website of the social medium, or revisiting the app after a long detox. There's a reason that saying "do everything in moderation" is popular, and it definitely applies to social media usage.
3. Call Your Friends More
Guys, look. I know we millennials are more inclined to text, but there is something to this whole "calling people" thing. Lately, I've been picking up my phone more to call my friends instead of text them because hey, sometimes, you just need to talk, for real. Emotions and tone can be lost through text, which is why it's important to make a concerted effort to keep your relationships strong by picking up the phone and listening to the voices of the people that matter to you.
Though calling may require a tad more effort than texting, it makes us feel more connected to our family and friends. Feeling more connected ultimately makes us feel happier and less lonely, which is a big win in today's isolating, tech-heavy world.
When you really think about it, if we don't use our phones for what they were originally intended to do, then what are we even doing?