Once again, I took the instagram app off my phone, put my phone in grey-scale mode to make it less attractive to me, and created a new set of (not so new) rules around my phone usage and screen time.
I have been through this process before and I berate myself about it regularly. If I am supporting clients with making sustainable changes in their lives then why can I not sustain this change of reducing my screen time and time on various social media apps.
The truth is, this is a case of addiction. The time I spent on my phone has been creeping up from very high to ridiculously high, and has truthfully been an issue for me for many years.
I can not live my best life whilst I spend the biggest part of my awake hours on my phone. I also know that I can not be at my best health wise, whilst my attention is so scattered. My relationships have suffered over the years whilst I have been victim to the pull of my phone.
The oddest thing is that this isn't some tragic rare confessional story of a personal trainer in London. This is actually a story that has also been shared with me countless of times by people who have crossed my path in all areas of my life, especially members of the LGBT+ community.
I tend to have the conversation about screen time with many people. I really enjoy it. It's almost as common as the question 'what do you do' or 'how's your day going'. instead I ask 'how's your screen time this week? The response is usually either 'God, I spend so much time on my phone id rather not check' or 'Wow, I had no idea I spend so much time on my phone'.
Take a minute and check your screen time now.
More worryingly and concerning for me is the research that finds that LGBT+ people are much more likely to spend more time online, especially on social media.
I believe there is a direct effect on mental health. Studies often look at children and adolescents but not much study focus on adults. We are mostly all phone zombies and our well-being is paying a big price for this.
What if we could transfer just 20% of the time we spend on our screens to focusing on our relationships instead, or cooking a healthy meal or exercising and stretching our bodies. We would transform our lives.
Instead we are using our phones to seek out connection which simply isn't to be found online and in fact is making us feel less connected than ever.
Rates of depressions for LGBT+ people are 2x higher than the straight population. There are opportunities for social media to help people to genuinely connects but I believe most people do not use social media in this way and most of us, especially LGBT+ put our mental well-being at risk with our level of social media use.
The challenge of our time is to use our time on our phone more effectively and making sure that we are actually building real connections online and shifting the wasted and negative time we use online towards our real 3D lives, where we can spend this reclaimed time to nourish our selves physically and mentally and create connections, whether that be to ourselves through re-connecting with our value systems and ensuring we are taking actions to align with these values, or whether than be to spending more time with friend, family and nature or our personal self-development projects.
For me, personally, screen time has been the biggest block to me living the life that I want to lead. I can't be sure, or speak for you, but I think that changing your relationship with your phone and such technologies could have a huge impact in the quality of your own experience, too.
As I mentioned before, our screen time is usually due to a phone and screen time addiction. I call this an addiction because it meets the definition of an addiction, even though many professionals will not use this term in regards to technology use, they may use 'compulsive behaviour' instead which is more or less the same thing.
My point is that its not a case of saying that you'll use your phone less. Trust me, this doesn't work. First of all you'll need to want to change your behaviours. You'll need to accept that your screen time use is problematic. Then you can start working towards its remedy.
I am not here to suggest to you the best path forward when it comes to changing your time use patterns, simply because I am still figuring this our myself and it will be the case of the blind leading the blind but I hope that this writing may bring some awareness to your daily habits and may plant a seed as to how we can live a happier, more fulfilling and more connected life, and at the very least, maybe may shift us in the direction of the gym with that extra time we've gained with our new awareness.