Do Things that Make You Get Off Your Phone

About a month ago, I read somewhere that one of the best things you can do right now is “do things that make you get off your phone.” It’s a simple concept and one that can be applied at any time (pandemic or not).  But it’s also one I’ve been fairly bad at in the last few months.

In late April, I hit a wall. I “was over” being alone and by myself half of the time. I was sad. There was no end in sight, and the media and news were engulfing me. I missed my friends (and still do). There was so much bad news, and I found myself angry and aggressive at people breaking social distancing rules by meeting up for runs, hanging out, etc.

I also know that New Jersey is in one of the epicenters of the country and will be most likely be opening things last. Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly why we are social distancing and I also know it is for the best, but it doesn’t help my mental health.

With no end in sight and the media glaring at me most days, I felt defeated. I found myself reading random self-help articles; one line somewhere was: “Do things that make you get off your phone.”

And it’s stuck with me over the last month. 

Before the pandemic, one thing I clung onto with swimming is I was alone in my own thoughts and away from social media. If there was a crazy event, my face wouldn’t have a clue because I was underwater swimming laps. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

With running, it feels like you are never really unplugged. Yes, you’re without a laptop or iPad, but I don’t really ever find myself away from the media. Maybe if I was in the middle of nowhere running on trails. But, I live in New Jersey, and while trails are plentiful, the middle of nowhere is hard to come by.

So with that simple but effective line, I set out to do things that make me get off my phone.

One thing I’ve done for a while is logged off around 8 pm. It’s a Christmas miracle to reach me by text, email, or DM after 8 pm. There are exceptions, but I’m rarely on. I unplug.

It’s me time.

It’s family time.

It’s unwinding time.

It’s not online time.

I don’t apologize.

I’ve also done some things extremely out of my comfort zone.  This is where biking comes into play.  Last Thursday, I biked 26 miles on my husband’s single speed mountain bike. I’m not breaking any tapes and I biked slower than many elite women run a marathon. (So I guess bike pacing is not in my future). But it was wonderful because I didn’t have my phone. It was just me, my thoughts, pedaling me way through.

If you asked me in February if I would have sat on a bike for 2.5 hours and not hated it, I would have laughed. I would assume I was injured and at a gym at some spin class. I wouldn’t assume I was having fun…but there are lots of things I wouldn’t assume about 2020.

I’ve seen several friends get into things they “never thought they would”: running, walking, hiking, biking, reading, knitting, BAKING, you name it. So if you’re in the same spot I was a month ago, I challenge you to do things without your cell phone and without being engulfed in social media. Even if you aren’t in the same spot, you might surprise yourself by spending time completely away from social media.

We don’t know when this will end, but we have to make the best of the situation.  Finding things to keep you happy and motivated during this period is tough, but they can help you stay positive through it.

Questions for you:

How do you get off your cell phone? 

Have you tried anything new?