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  • Writer's pictureBePresent

How physical distance can help break a habit

In a journey of trying to build a better relationship with your phone, have you ever considered leaving it at home when you head out of the house? 

It goes against the classic routine we all practice before we step out of the door — wallet, keys, phone. For a lot of people, the thought of leaving their phone behind inspires some fear and panic.

National Library of Medicine scientists have even given that feeling a name — NOMOPHOBIA, or, NO MObile PHone PhoBIA. But when we’re trying to build healthier relationships with our phones, forcing ourselves to actively participate in the outside world, even for brief periods of time, is a great step. 

“We have to stay in the real world more than the virtual world,” the researchers wrote. “We have to re-establish the human-human interactions, face to face connections.”

It can be impractical to leave your phone at home for an entire day at a time. But you can start small — try going on a walk in your neighborhood, heading to the grocery store, or out to dinner with a friend without it. 

These distraction-free moments will get you in the habit of being present and aware of your surroundings. There’s even some research into what’s called an “awe walk,” where you purposefully notice and admire what’s around you. Scientists have found dedicated “awe” time relieves stress, worry and anxiety. 

When you do this, you’ll begin to develop a renewed appreciation for the ordinary things in life, and your desire to constantly distract yourself with your phone will diminish.

You can use some strategies to create that physical distance at home, too. Increasing the effort it takes to access your phone, whether that be turning it off or leaving it in another room will cut back on mindless scrolling. 

You’ll probably notice breaks in your focus that you’d usually fill with dopamine hits from your phone, but we bet you’ll decide it's not worth the effort to seek it out in the other room. Soon, that unconscious habit of checking social media or other mindless scrolling will slow. 

And when you realize the minimal effort to walk to the other room doesn’t feel worth it, we hope it highlights just how unimportant the scrolling was. 


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