What's one of the first things you do in the morning? If it's checking your phone, you are not alone. One study found that 80% of smartphone users check their device within 15 minutes of waking up.
It's understandable of course, our phones act as just about everything. They might be your alarm clock, or the way you check the weather to determine what to wear for the day, or even your flashlight to get to the washroom. And then of course there's the temptation to check your emails or scroll through your favourite social media app.
Unfortunately, this comes with consequences. Checking your phone first thing is likely to increase feelings of stress and overwhelm, and it may even affect your ability to prioritize tasks. When you reach for your phone, you never know what you're going to get. You might see an email notification that sends you into a worry-spiral, or open Instagram and catch an image that upsets you. Suddenly, rather than having a relaxing morning that energizes you — your day becomes anything but.
So how can we change this?
How to not check your phone in the morning
Investigate what you truly need it for
First thing's first. Identify the true uses for your phone in the morning. Do you use it to wake yourself up? Perhaps it's time to invest in an alarm clock. Or maybe you use your phone to light the way to the washroom? Consider testing out some night lights or a flashlight to illuminate your path. Remember, we once existed quite well without smartphones. If there are any tasks you feel you "need" your phone for, really ponder whether there's an alternative arrangement that could better help you start your day.
Stop the scroll
The second phone-use to interrupt is checking email or social media first thing. If you've ever found yourself bleary-eyed, barely-awake and squinting at your phone in the A.M. — this one's for you. There are many ways you can support starting your day phone-free. You could set your phone to airplane mode or utilize its Do Not Disturb features, or simply leave your device across the room or in another room entirely. In our technological world it can feel like we need to check in on everything immediately. But ask yourself if that truly is the case. In all likelihood your work emails and DMs can wait an extra 30 minutes.
Build your morning routine
Most importantly when changing a habit, you want to build a plan for what you're going to do instead. Now that you know you won't be checking your phone for the first part of your day, visualize how you would like to spend your time. Perhaps you take a few deep breaths, check in on how your body is feeling, slowly get up and do 5 minutes of stretching before heading to the bathroom to wash your face and brush your teeth. Then, maybe you prepare your coffee and sit down for 10 minutes of journaling or day-planning. These simple activities can be very meaningful and help ground you when your mind isn't buzzing with news or notifications from your phone.
Remember that changing habits takes time. If you've been checking your phone first thing for years, it will take some time before it becomes second nature to go phone-free. If you find yourself on your phone first thing in the morning, simply close your eyes, take a deep breath, set your phone down and return to your planned morning routine. As you notice the positive changes and thoughts that come with your new morning activities, it will get easier. Before you know it you'll be waking up to more relaxing, productive and stress-free days.
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