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7 things to do instead of staring at your phone

We spend - on average - 2 hours 28 minutes a day on our smartphones. Shocked?

Research by Ofcom found that 15% of UK adults feel they are always at work because of constant phone access. More than half admit that their devices interrupt face-to-face conversations with loved ones. 

If you’re worried about spending too much time on your phone, here are some things you could do instead.

1. Read a book

Books encourage relaxation and also hone your ability to concentrate. Reading books may also have further health benefits. A Yale School of Public Health study found that adults who read for three and a half hours per week or more could expect to have a longer lifespan than those who did not read books. Why not take a trip to your local library and see what they have on offer? 

2. Learn a new skill

As we get older, learning new skills can help keep the brain active and stave off age-related cognitive decline. A new instrument, language, life skill or even how to play a new board game could help to keep your mind sharp. You could meet with a friend to learn a new skill together or to teach one another a skill you already have. There are also tutorials on Youtube for any skill imaginable. This could be a more valuable use of phone time than endlessly scrolling.

3. Join a new exercise class

Instead of sitting on the sofa staring at your phone, get moving. Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to all kinds of health problems. These include obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. So, put down your phone and sign up for an exercise class. If you’re not sure which will suit you, put your phone to good use and conduct your own research. For a small fee, MoveGB lets you access anything from parkour to climbing, or yoga to Bootcamp, at more than 6,000 venues across the country.

4. Have a conversation

When we have our eyes down on our phones, it’s a signal to whoever we’re with that we’re not properly listening. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that having little face-to-face social contact nearly doubled older adults’ risk of depression. Try putting your phone to one side and giving your full attention to who you’re speaking to.

5. Get some sleep

More than a third of people look at their phones just before going to sleep. But, the light the devices emit can suppress the body’s production of melatonin – the sleep hormone. Putting down your phone an hour or so before bedtime is recommended in order not to disrupt your sleep cycle. This can ensure you have the rest your body needs to be healthy.

6. Look after your posture

According to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), 22% of people have experienced back pain after using a smartphone. So rather than hunching over a device, do some simple stretches. You could even book in for a yoga or Pilates class.

7. Hug a tree

Nature can’t be fully accessed via mobile phones or screens. It is best experienced through being out in the world and using all five senses. Nature-deficit disorder has been identified as a growing phenomenon among children. However, adults also benefit from time in natural environments. One study in Japan showed that ‘forest therapy’ could reduce stress levels and heart rates8. Why not get out and hug a tree today?