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Glued to your phone? Here are some tips for managing mobile addiction

Try setting it down and having a conversation with someone in front of you instead.

WE’VE ALL been there. I’ve done it. You check your phone, and then set it down. Then, instinctively, you pick it up again almost moments later –like a reflex.

Most people who own smartphones admit that at some point or another they’ve checked their phone when they should have been paying attention to something else.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve almost been run into while walking around town in Dublin because of people looking down at their phones instead of paying attention to where they’re going

We all know smartphones are great and offer many advantages, but most of us can also admit that they come with some harmful effects as well.

Besides causing neck strain, smartphone overuse can lead to tensions in relationships, when you’re too busy checking social media to engage in conversation with those around you.

Whether you consider yourself addicted or just want to cut back on how much you use it, here are a few things you can do to reduce your reliance on your phone.

Reduce notifications

Turn off as many notifications as possible that are not related to phone calls and text messages. Do you really need a pop-up every time someone likes something on Facebook or tweets you?

Instead, just open your app when you actually need to check it. Or even try choosing ringtones which aren’t as intrusive. The less your phone dings, the less you notice it’s there.

Give your phone a home

Decide on a place to store your phone when you’re not actually out and about. If it’s your personal mobile, try setting it on a table or a shelf where you have to go out of your way to check it.

If it’s your work phone, keep it in your work bag or handbag – again, out of reach. And no, your pocket doesn’t count.

This will minimise constantly being on the phone when sitting on the couch, using the toilet, or lying in bed. After all, you shouldn’t be using your phone in bed anyway if you want to sleep properly.

Turn on ‘do not disturb’

Whether it’s only turned on overnight, or just turned on for an hour over dinner, turn your phone on ‘do not disturb’ (DND) mode for a while so you won’t receive any notifications.

Unless it’s your work phone and you’re a doctor on call, the world probably won’t end if you don’t see or respond to that text message right away.

Still afraid to turn on DND? Put your phone on silent and set it in the other room for a little while.

Stop apologising for being unavailable

When people ring back after getting my missed call, they often say:

Oh, sorry, I didn’t have reception.
I didn’t hear my phone.
I was out shopping.

In doing so, they apologise not only for being unavailable at every waking moment to anyone who could possibly call them, but also for their phone’s inability to pass on the message on time.

We don’t need to be available to everyone at every moment. It’s okay to not respond to people the moment they message you.

So whether it’s just taking a break each evening, or trying to reduce your mobile usage overall, try setting the phone down and having a conversation with someone in front of you instead. You never know what you might be missing out on.

Nicole Paulie is a counselling psychologist at Ballsbridge Counselling and co-author of the book, How to be Happy and Healthy: The Seven Natural Elements of Mental Health.

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