It was a Sunday morning. I was on call at the hospital and had to drive an hour to reach work. This was my 6th day of work that week and I really needed a break. However, I was on call and had one more day to go.

On the weekends I usually call my mother who lives far away. Since I had some time left while driving into the hospital, I reached for my phone and the next thing I knew my car was driving down into a ditch. Luckily I was safe, however it was scary and now I immediately realized that it is time for a change.

This experience inspired me to really think about this issue of how attached we are to our devices and I wanted to share some recent tips that have helped me step away from my device and really get into my life again. This is what is working for me and now my hope is that it will work for you too, so you never have the experience I had in my car.

  1. Set Limits: Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning or last thing before going to bed, pause. Don’t check email, don’t check social media and don’t check for text messages. Breathe. Create a new routine instead. Maybe have that cup of coffee or tea on your deck or front porch instead of hopping on your devices. Breathe some more. Maybe cuddle for a few minutes with your partner or child. Whatever you choose to do, just breathe and know that your devices, those texts, emails and social media posts will still be there after you take some good old fashion down time for yourself.
  2. Include Your Family: Get your family involved if you have kids or other adults that live with you. Make it fun. Turn off all the devices including the PS4 or XBOX. Get everyone into a good book, go for walk or play a family game. Eat breakfast together, eat dinner together and make a rule that no one can use his or her phone or devices during that time. Connection is so important and our devices can really take us away from that connection with the ones we love most in our lives.
  3. Reconnect with Nature: Getting into nature can be so powerful and so good for our mental health. There is something about taking that nice long walk or sitting in the sunshine without your phone nagging at you. It helps you to be more mindful and present, which is all a big part of good mental health. So, start a new routine, maybe that includes exercise, another activity that is great for your mental health.

Yes, I understand it can be challenging. Any time we change our routines can be an adjustment that takes some time. So, go easy on yourself and pick one or two out of the three suggestions I’ve made and integrate them into your life. This will truly help you to get off those devices and step into your life as it has done for me.

Live Mentally Healthy,

Dr. Saramma Eappen