Life beyond the screen: The importance of putting down your phone



Phones keep us connected with family and friends. They keep us updated about news, weather updates and help us answer our questions in a matter of seconds. But excessive phone use can affect our mental health. By putting them down, we can give our brains the break they need. 

Excessive phone usage has been linked to excessive dopamine production, which has a similar effect to addiction. In the brain, dopamine functions when in rewarding situations. Many people check their phones to see updates of their friends which releases a hit of dopamine when we connect with others on social media.

Social media interactions can cause the release of dopamine, creating an addiction to constantly checking our phone for a brief feel-good moment. Instant gratification causes users to become addicted. Leading users back into apps multiple times a day. 

I know firsthand how tough it can be to put down my phone. After a long day I love to watch an interesting TV show and enjoy my time off. But I realized a lot of good things happen once I put it down. 

There are many benefits to living in the present. There are five things I’ve learned since I decided to routinely put my phone down:

  1. I am less stressed

When I put my phone down, I feel the stress and anxiety go away. The constant need to email someone back or see rich influencers post their daily selfies. Social media offers funny videos, interesting facts, sad stories and new products, but having different emotions on topics in the matter of minutes was not helping me feel calm. As great as phones are, they are often the root of the stress we often feel. 

  1. I become more social 

Although phones help us stay connected to our friends and family, putting them down in social settings help us stay present and engaged. I try to stick to the rule of not using them when I’m with friends. It can come off as rude at times. It is basically saying, “My phone is more interesting than what you have to say.” 

  1. I become more productive 

When I am not wasting time looking at blogs, YouTube videos and updates. As a student there is always work to be done, whether it’s responding to emails, writing blogs or studying. Once I stop staring at my phone my productivity skyrockets. 

All the nonsense from my phone vanishes and the real focus can finally begin. 

  1. I live in the moment 

When I put my phone down I can see the world more clearly. Without thousands of opinions from social media and the need to share every moment. Capturing photos and videos of interesting moments can always be a great way to remember that moment. But living in the moment can feel drastically better. Instead of living your life through a screen you can live life through the present moment. 

It helped me enjoy what’s happening now and living for today. Choosing to live for social media means robbing you of living for yourself and only living for others. Living in the moment can be a hard skill to learn, but it can create beautiful moments. 

  1. I felt good about myself 

Devices can be the main reasons why we lose track of time and neglect healthy habits. Setting the phone down can give us inclinations to do activities like exercising. I noticed I wanted to hike, go for a run and meditate once my phone was put aside. It can also empower individuals to look for other healthy habits to occupy time. For example reading, socializing or working on a personal creative project. 

These kinds of activities can stimulate your mind in a much more positive way than looking at your phone. Working on stimulating your mind in healthy ways takes care of it, but it’s also a way to take care of your body. 

Putting down your phone won’t cause the world to end. Live in the moment and be present when you can. Moments can pass us by if we are staring at a screen all day. Simple acts of self-care can change your mood and life. 

Don’t be afraid to disconnect for a while. 

Daisy Beltran can be reached at [email protected].