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Put it down and walk away slowly...

With or without it… What do you do away from the phone?

Millions of people received a rude awakening when smartphones released its Screen Time apps. It’s no secret that most people use their phones often, probably more often than they should. But the smartphone’s new feature put the cold, hard hours and minutes right in front of our faces. There’s no arguing with each precisely tracked pickup, incoming notification, and app opened. (I promise not to go down the rabbit hole of big brother following you and tracking your every movement. I’ll save that for my upcoming apocalyptic blog entry).

Public Service Announcement (PSA)-

Pick up your phone and take a quick peek at how much you’re using it.

Now, I would like to continue the conversation of my relationship with the phone and some questions for you?

· Do you want independence from your phone?

· Do you want to learn how to live more balanced with your phone?

I have some information you may find valuable.

I’m obsessed with helping people get a hold of dropping their phone. (See what I did there). For over the last year, I’ve lived without a smartphone, social media, and stripped down my digital inventory to a minimum. Wow, Ryan you’re living without a smartphone, what a sacrifice. I promise this dry humor will not pervade the writing.

I know the world of cellphones is not going anywhere anytime soon. Yet this is not to say you can’t have a more healthy relationship with the use of your phone or any digital platform or social media for that matter.

My goal in sharing the story of my last year living without any smartphone or social media is to provide guideposts, skills, and inspire you to be more conscious in your life. I’m going to challenge you to actually experience your life without the need to show the world you’re doing them.

Moreover, it is a call to action to share the reality of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns we are facing as a culture, that is tethered to our digital world. It’s a cry out to drop the phone, bury it in the deepest, furthest cave and never go back.

I want to offer the idea of being present to your life. Engaged in your daily choice and driven to carry yourself with more passion, energy and interest in what you’re consciously deciding to do with your time.

And just short of going back to the 80’s and losing your mind with a rotary dial phone. I promise you will feel better by putting it down.

More about presence, presence—can you say presence?

Beyond the obvious removal of all buzzes, beeps and chirps – comes a deeper sense of presence in not wondering if someone is going to buzz, beep or chirp you.

Try this – When you leave the house, leave the phone.

In staying with simplicity let us go down the “what’s the big deal?” Try it for a day, wake up and leave the house get on the road and don’t look back.

Later that day… Ask yourself these questions.

· What happened 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 30 minutes after you left?

· What were your body, mind and emotions doing?

· Did you turn around to get it?

Now… Try this -- Keep track of how many times you pick up the phone.

Another radical idea. Your baseline stats should include the average number of times you pick up your phone throughout the day.

Again, more questions.

· How often do you check for notifications each hour?

· Are there certain times you’re more likely to pick up your phone?

· Are these useful or are they times you should be spending unplugged?

My challenge to you is to simply do something worth remembering; not for a picture or to tell random groups of people you think are friends because they are following you and that you need to prove you did it. But because you want to live your life, not someone else’s, get out of your comfort zone more often.

I have experienced many conflicts and yet the one thing I can say without any doubt is I have found gratitude in stepping away from the digital distraction of a smartphone.

It’s more important than ever for us to be mindfully present. Mindfulness is a deliberate choice. It’s rooted in intentional living and the ability to choose to resist distraction and remain centered in your present moment. It also gives you a clear appreciation for all the experiences, emotions and thoughts YOU are living!

Next time you are standing in line, next time you are staring at your phone and not your spouse or partner, next time your kids ask you to look at them? Be there!!

What will you do?

I challenge you to take a moment to consider putting it down for a second, a minute, a day, a week, or a month and I promise you will find freedom.

Dr. Ryan Westrum is a clinical psychologist that supports people with detoxing from digital and addiction to the Internet. You can connect with him at or call him at 952-405-9389.


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