“I’m driving home for Christmas
Oh, I can't wait to see those faces” says the Chris Rea song “Driving Home for Christmas”.
For most of us, it’s time to come back home and spend precious moments with family & friends. But are we truly going to enjoy those moments? Or just keep doing the same things that we normally do during the rest of the year?
Unfortunately, there is a high chance for many of us to be checking our phones every 6 minutes while listening to ours mom, sisters, partners... and checking the number of likes that we get on the cool Christmas tree picture we posted on Instagram. These interruptions can make the magic of Christmas, gathering with people and spend an amazing time together through real connections, very difficult to achieve.
So how can we make sure we spend more time with our family than with our mobile during those holidays?
This is a question I was asking myself and the answer is not easy. Let’s all agree that our phone can be like a drug: the pleasure of getting new likes on social media are liberating dopamine that makes us feel good. The problem is that while we get “digital dopamine”, which is instantly rewarding, we are losing the capability to connect in person and it gets harder to achieve the same feeling of pleasure with human connections.
In order to prepare for getting off my phone during the holiday, I decided to ask myself some critical questions:
- What is triggering the action of checking my phone? In the past, the action to check my phone was mostly triggered by a “real need” to communicate, share and read...but today, I am at a point where I do it as an automated action where I suddenly become a zombie acting under “major forces” that I can’t control. After doing a little research to see how others would feel, I found out that the motivations are a combination of pleasure and anxiety. Some people search for the pleasure of getting new likes, connections, shares… while others are searching for a reduction of anxiety to make sure they haven’t missed out on anything while being “abroad” from the digital world. In my case, I would say I grab my phone around 80% of the time for anxiety reduction and 20% for pleasure.
- What are the benefits of checking my phone? This question is very related to the previous one but trying to highlight what feelings I can recognise after checking my phone. I declare myself a “freak control” and I have to admit that my feeling is : “ it’s ok, everything is under control now..you can keep living your life”. The second feeling I experience is actually the most popular benefit in the world according to recent research: to escape from routine or run away from my ruminating thoughts. We are capable of living a “digital reality” where we get to be who we want, when we want and live only happy events and friendships… far away from real-world problems.
- What is the cost of this behavior? This is hard to admit, since as with every addiction we always try to justify it saying that “the phone” is not causing the anxiety, panic attacks, stress... and that we have it under control. A recent report from the New York Post mentioned that “Four in 10 Americans would rather lose their voice for a day than lose their phone for 24 hours.” We are losing the capability of confronting real-live problems or building new friendships outside of social media and we are even willing to lose our voice.
My job is to help people live and work more meaningfully while finding their inner happiness...and here I am, sitting on my couch and realising that I have a “phone addiction” that I did not want to confront.
This is when it was clear to me that the problem would not be solved by trying to convince myself that I am fine without my handy so I decided to create some strict rules for this holiday:
- Charge my phone in a different room from where I sleep . By doing this, the first thing I do in the morning won’t be to check my phone, but maybe look through the window for a few seconds, enjoy the silence of the early morning or discover a new painting my parents hung in the room. And before sleeping, I will then be able to avoid the blue light, an impeachment to helping you sleep (it blocks your melatonin, like a messenger who says “it’s time to go to sleep” to your body and brain.)
- Set up a time of the day where I am not going to check my phone. In my case, that time is set from 1pm to 5 pm to make sure I enjoy lunch with my family and friends. Knowing that I will check it before and after, gives me a sense of control, plus it’s always more fun to have more notifications at once. :)
- Leave my phone physically outside at every dinner or get together or play the “phone stack” game.
Last word, don’t force yourself and don’t be harsh to yourself, be kind to yourself and just accept that you need it to check your phone and get some “digital adrenaline” sometimes.
The Chris Rea’s song almost ends with:
“Driving home for Christmas
With a thousand memories”
I invite you to spend more time with yourself.
I invite you to create true moments, I invite you to create memories.
Free minds are connected minds.