We all do it. You’re lying in bed all warm and cozy, snoozing away, immersed in a dream, when your alarm suddenly jolts you back to reality.
Most likely, your phone is your alarm. As you grab your phone and shut off the alarm, you notice 3 missed texts. And there’s a little red notification thing jutting out of your Facebook app, glaring back at you like a stoplight.
Your OCD is triggered. Now you have to open Facebook and clear the notification. While you’re there, you begin scrolling. After what feels like 5 minutes, you glance at the clock and 45 minutes have passed by.
Now you’re behind. You leap out of bed, rush to get the kids out of bed, rush to get them ready, rush to get yourself ready, rush out the door, and rush to work.
The day hasn’t even started yet and you’re already a frantic mess. You play catch-up throughout the remainder of your day, and when you get home you’re too exhausted to meet the demands of your other adult responsibilities.
Just imagine what you could have done with those 45 extra minutes you spent lying in bed scrolling through Facebook…
I was the world’s worst for rolling over and grabbing my phone first thing in the morning. And I’m not alone. According to recent statistics, 80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning.
After learning how detrimental this digital distraction is for your brain, I quickly began breaking the habit.
If you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, you’re not only sabotaging your day, you could be sabotaging your life.
These days, we are literally drowning in information. There’s just way too much stuff coming at us and way too little time. But it’s not just that. We’re starved for real practical wisdom and advice, and it seems social media has infiltrated every aspect of our lives.
Starting your day on social media only means you will spend more of your day on social media.
Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but it’s also disastrous for our mental health. Just take a step back and really examine what’s coming across your feed. It’s no wonder so many people are filled with anxiety and dread today.
You are absolutely bombarded with pessimism and negativity by the device you’re holding in your hand, and you soak it up like a sponge. Virtual attention seekers infiltrate our brains every single day. Hypocrisy runs rampant.
We see the highlights of our friends’ lives and compare our worst to their best, cultivating feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. It makes you feel like you’re not good enough, or that your life isn’t good enough, when in reality you are more than enough and you have more than enough.
And I get it, seeing a like or a comment feels good. It gives us a quick rush of dopamine. When I post something, I immediately look for comments or likes. It’s addictive. It’s the equivalent of mental junk food. The more we get, the more we crave.
Coming from experience, if you allow your life to be predicated by digital marks of validation, you will live in a constant state of anxiety.
So, how can you combat this? Just stop eating what they’re feeding you.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
Be a thermostat
When we first wake up, our brains are in an alpha/theta state. We are very impressionable and receptive first thing in the morning. If you’re grabbing your phone as soon as you open your eyes, you’re allowing your brain to be hijacked. You’re rewiring your brain to be distracted, and the information overload inhibits your ability to prioritize tasks.
You can’t build a quality life if the first thing you’re doing is responding to everything that’s going on in the world. Likes, comments, texts, emails, the news. It puts you in reaction mode and you start your day on someone else’s terms.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast and heard someone say that your inbox is just a convenient organizational system for other people’s agendas. I couldn’t help but think how true this is. How many times have you checked your phone in the morning to find a message or an email that ruined your day before the day even began?
Stop letting everyone else determine how your day will go. Be a thermostat instead of a thermometer. Thermometers are reactive to the environment, thermostats set the temperature of the environment.
Start with intention. If you want to win the day you have to win the first hour of the day. Don’t fall victim to a quick hit of dopamine that will only beg you for more attention.
Have a vision for your day instead of reacting to demands.
Reclaim your day
Kicking the habit is not as difficult as you think. Start small.
One small change that can make a big difference is to make your phone less accessible. Use an actual alarm clock and keep your phone on the other side of the room overnight. Like junk food, you’re less likely to consume it if it isn’t readily available.
Personally, I like to make a small list of easily accomplished tasks to start my day. Ask yourself, “what are three things I can do to start the day off with a win?”, and write them down before going to bed or first thing in the morning.
These don’t have to be huge tasks. They can be things like “take a shower” or “drink a full glass of water”, but DO NOT check your phone until you have accomplished at least two of the things on your list.
Over time, this will train you to start the day on your terms instead of reacting to the demands of the world, and you won’t believe the difference it makes. After a few days, the urge will subside, and you won’t even want to look at your phone in the morning.
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier and more efficient but, unfortunately, it often has the opposite effect. Don’t allow technology to sabotage you. The world can wait.
Be a thermostat. Start each day with intent and your life will change for the better. Guaranteed.