How getting rid of my smartphone made me less stressed

Getting rid of my smartphone made me less anxious and less stressed

Well, I did it. Three weeks ago, I took the plunge and finally got rid of my iPhone. For context, I’m someone who updates their phone every other year and spends hours every day checking social media, texting, and browsing the web. So, I was a real smartphone addict. I’m not the kind of person who checks their phone a few times a day, I’m a smartphone power user.

This is still the beta phase of being iPhone-less. I’m not over the hump yet. I went cold turkey, and it would be a lie to say that I haven’t looked back. I have. I’ve looked back a lot. There are certainly a few things that are easier with a smartphone: navigation, arranging meeting friends and family, and taking photos. I also use mindfulness apps on my phone, and getting rid of them has meant adjusting to the old-fashioned methods, although honestly I think there’s a lot to be said for an egg timer.

So, what have I learnt and gained from getting rid of my iPhone? A few things.

I’ve lost the constant need to be doing something with my hands while I’m waiting. 

I’m a serial fidgeter. My go-to fidgeting device was my phone. I used to distract myself from just waiting and being in the moment by playing mindless games on my phone or by checking social media (even when there was nothing substantial to check). By getting rid of my phone, the urge to fidget – well – gradually went away. That isn’t to say that I don’t fidget at all anymore, I do. But the compulsion to fidget constantly subsided. Instead of needing to constantly move my hands and legs, I could find a degree of peace that I never had while I still owned my iPhone.

I’m not always available to everyone, which means there are fewer interruptions in my life.

Having a smartphone means that anybody can contact you at any time. In a way, this is a good thing. It’s good that when someone needs to get in touch they can tweet, email, or WhatsApp you at their earliest convenience. But, there’s also a big downside. The feeling that you are always available, and always connected, takes a toll on your mental energy. Being disconnected meant that I didn’t feel that if one of my friends or family had something that was only mildly important they needed to get in touch about, I would have to respond immediately. When I checked my laptop, I would get all the important updates that I needed. Not being connected all the time meant that I felt I was free to engage with the world around me. Walking meant simply walking, it didn’t mean waiting for that person to message.

I’ve started reading much more than I did previously.

Before smartphones came along, reading was something I did all the time. Now, I’m much more likely to be checking email or watching a YouTube video than getting lost in the pages of a novel. By getting rid of my smartphone, that love of reading became so important again. It wasn’t that I’d stopped loving reading – it was that I’d replaced reading with something that I actually enjoyed less; using my smartphone. By getting rid of it, I was able to get back into something which is much healthier and better for my wellbeing.

When I do use the internet, I’m more productive.

Now that I don’t have a smartphone, using the internet feels like a luxury. When I’m using social media, I’m genuinely engaged with it. When I need to get down to work, it’s easier to get on with it. The internet has become a functional and productive tool for both my work life and my social life, rather than something that’s always available and always on.

Overall, getting rid of my smartphone has been a hugely positive experience. I feel like I’m more mindful, more peaceful, less stressed, and happier. I’ve only been doing it for a few months, so I might end up going back to the iPhone – but I hope that I don’t. If you’re considering giving up your smartphone, I highly recommend it. Even if only for a few weeks, or even days, give it a go – you might feel the same way that I do.