Wellbeing tips and tricks - finding balance with your phone

Wellbeing tips and tricks - finding balance with your phone


  • Date: Monday 28th September 2020
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As a mental health first aid instructor for SSG I often stand in front a class of delegates and talk to them about stress and work life balance. We often end up talking about digital interaction and often the topic of digital burnout arises.

We also often discuss sleep and after reading the book ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker I heeded some of his advice on phones and sleep. 

Below are some tips I have learned and utilised that have helped me live in better harmony with my phone, and whilst I appreciate that for me personally there is a long way to go, these are a great way to start. 

Sleep and my phone 

Screen time is best avoided for an hour before bed; our brains follow a natural cycle of sleep and waking. Waking is triggered by light biasing the blue spectrum and sleep is triggered by a reddening spectrum of light. If you can’t fully avoid screens or glancing at your phone before you slumber, utilise the setting ‘night mode’ on your phone. This makes the screen spectrum shift towards red (can be altered based on personal choices) and can be set to automatically begin at certain times. Personally, I set it from 8pm to 7am and this tends to work for me.  

Do not disturb 

This leads on to notifications - to further avoid the urge to glance at the screen whenever you receive a notification, you can turn them off by using the ‘do not disturb’ setting. The aim of this setting is to silence all notifications and can be turned on manually from the drop-down menu or scheduled to work at certain times. Note: this mode also stops calls and texts. If you need people to be able to contact you, you can add them to a group and allow incoming calls from this group to pass through. 

The urge to check!  

One thing I noticed was the draw of social media apps. The little red number in the corner of an app on your home screen is designed to create the urge to open the app and check. For non-essential social media apps, a very simple trick to cut down use is to turn this off. I now check when I want to check, and often forget. This tip has been highly beneficial for me, although it’s best not to turn this off for any work emails; the exception being whilst on holiday.  

Total down time 

Building upon the above, I recently learned of an iPhone feature called ‘screen time’.  One motivating factor is that this setting shows me how much screen time I have been getting and gives the ability to compare to other time periods. For instance, your weekly usage in comparison to a previous week to show whether your screen time has increased or decreased. Seeing how much time we spend looking at our screens can be very sobering.  

Another feature that I have found very useful on an iPhone is called ‘downtime’. This allows you to schedule ‘do not disturb’ time and locks access to apps. Currently I am trialling 6pm – 7pm as a total phone blackout. Apps display as locked for the day, (this can be overridden, by allowing an extra minute or simply turning it off). In psychology a term called nudges, is used to describe a prompt that results in an output behaviour. I find this nudge is very powerful, and even when I turn off the limit for an app, I still find myself significantly limiting my time on my phone.  

These are just some of my experiences and I’d be very keen to learn additional tips and tricks to help create a more balanced experience with our phones. 

Source: Adam Worth


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