5 Reasons To Turn Your Phone Off (Now!)

mbg Contributor By Nicola Jane Hobbs, MSc
mbg Contributor
Nicola Jane Hobbs, MSc, is a RYT 200 certified yoga teacher and lifestyle coach.

Sometimes you need to turn off Twitter, forget Facebook, ignore Instagram, and get on and live …

When I was a 10-year-old I would come home from school and make daisy chains, bake fairy cakes, and learn how to do cartwheels. I would play outside with neighbors until my mom called me in for tea. I would spend time day dreaming and make believing and creating stories with friends.

I wouldn’t be on my on my cellphone.

I didn’t even have a cellphone.

I teach yoga in schools across the UK. I like the classes to be fun and relaxed — no spiritualism, no set sequences, no deep philosophies. This is a time for the kids to discover their own strength and freedom. But I do have one rule. From the minute they set foot in the yoga studio to the moment they step foot off the mat, phones are off, imaginations are on.

Over 78% of teenagers now have a cellphone and 74% of teenagers use it for social media. That 60-minute yoga practice may be the only time those kids get to disconnect from the online world, and reconnect with the real one.

Adults are no better. You see at the supermarket, in cafes, in clothes stores — customers talking/texting/tweeting at the checkout. No eye contact, no polite conversion, no thank you or goodbye to the person behind the counter. No acknowledgment that they even exist. And then if you take a look around at groups of friends in coffee shops, families on days out, even couples on a romantic date, there's often an entire world of online friends, followers, likers, and retweeters intruding on these intimate moments via a cellphone. Anything can be abused — including technology.

If you’re spending more time on your cellphone than you are with your partner, children, or friends, then it may be time to rethink your priorities. Here are five reasons why:

1. To break the cellphone addiction.

Nomophobia is the fear of being without cellphone contact. It is one of the biggest fears in the modern world. I know people who suffer anxiety if they lose sight of their phone for a few minutes. Research also shows that many of us who keep our phones in our pockets feel phantom vibrations — we are now so primed with anxiety about checking our phone that we misinterpret an itchy leg as an incoming text or tweet. Our cellphone addiction has literally changed the way we interpret neuronal signals.

2. To stop comparing.

When we're bombarded with photos on social media, it's difficult to resist comparing the ups and downs of our own life with the picture-perfect portrayal our friends and followers are publishing. We forget that this is merely an edited snapshot of their lives — they don’t roll out of bed looking like the supermodel in their profile photos.

3. To rediscover your heart light.

When I do posture work in yoga, I talk about our heart light. This is an imaginary light that shines from our heart out to the world. It isn't necessarily spiritual, it's just a cue to remind students to keep their spine long, shoulders back, and chest open. If you look around at people on smartphones, they are hunched over, head down, heart light in shadow — the classic sign of a "text neck." Now, you can use your cellphone with a rounded back, slumped shoulders, or overextended neck all you want … until one day you can’t. Poor posture will serve you functionally for a good while, but at some point it will fail — back pain will creep in as muscles become shortened and joints become stiff, affecting your standing, your walking, your sitting, your yoga, your whole life.

4. To switch off.

When was the last time you turned off your cellphone? The last time you weren’t plugged into technology? Rest and relaxation are just as important to our health as nutrition and exercise. Our idea of chill-out time has shifted from sitting quietly meditating, or maybe some gentle yoga, or a relaxing bath, to scrolling through social media feeds and stalking old friends on Facebook. Being constantly connected to texts, emails, and tweets is having a huge impact on our stress response systems. Unlike our cellphones, we can’t just be plugged into the mains in order to recharge our batteries. We need to switch off, reenergize, and choose activities that will nourish our spirits.

5. To reconnect with life.

The average person looks at their cellphone 110 times a day and spends 23 days per year glued to their smartphone. Escaping to this online world removes us from reality, disconnects us from face-to-face interaction, and often leaves us feeling lost and empty. In order to really connect with others, we need the hugs, the hand holding, the eye contact, and the smiles. We need to step outside of our social media comfort zone and return to being human — humans full of imperfections and vulnerabilities who live from their hearts instead of judging our self-worth by the number of likes we get on a Facebook status.

One of the best things I’ve discovered since having greater disconnection from my cellphone is simple: Nothing beats coffee with a friend (no matter how many Twitter followers you have).

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