You see them everywhere, constantly, bumping into you on the sidewalk, wandering into the middle of the street, blocking the stairway to search for a signal. It’s the Phone Zombies!

Or maybe you don’t see them because, in fact, You Are One of Them!

Cyber connection got us through the pandemic lock down. When we were confined our only way to get information and assistance was through electronic devices. Where can we get toilet paper, how long will we be stuck, when will the nachos get here. We were all connected, which was good. But that lead us to believe that now we are all completely dependent on our devices, which is not so good.

We’re back out and about, but it’s difficult to let go of that pacifier. That constant stream of information we were necessarily attached to before is not as obligatory now. The physical and emotional ramifications of device over-use haven’t changed, but we have. And we can be smarter about how we use our smart phone.

Being on your device constantly can literally be a pain in the neck caused by repetitive stress that makes it stiff and painful. You can get all slouchy, resulting in hunched shoulders and poor posture. Constant texting your way of life? That will put a strain on your thumbs and your wrists making them hurt and swell up. And all that sedentary time spent on your phone checking posts and eating snacks? That’s right, too much phone time is your gateway to weight gain.

Yuck, right? And all those physical effects? They can affect you emotionally. When you’re curled in that ball-like stance, scrolling and clicking, you’re pulled in not only to those attention grabbing headlines but pulled into yourself as well. Instead of enjoying your own life, you’re reading about other people’s lives. That constant cyber connection can lull you into a sense of belonging when in fact you’re doing it all by yourself. That’s isolating, and that can result in anxiety and depression.

And what about common courtesy? Do you know how annoying it is to be out with someone and have them literally pay no attention to you because they’re constantly checking their phone? Maybe you don’t, because you Are that person. You are that person wandering the streets and hallways oblivious to others around you, not noticing or caring that you’re in the way because of your slavish devotion to your phone. That sort of action is not only totally self absorbed, it’s rude.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. A fix that will result in you standing taller and feeling better. Put the phone down. Put it down and walk away. You can free yourself of the constant virtual connection when you accept that your device is not the end all be all and begin to make those real-life connections again.

Sure, we all need our phone for work related issues. But you can use your phone wisely. Empower yourself by setting usage boundaries for yourself and co-workers. Being strong and clear about your availability allows others to know when you will be connected, and when you will not.

Then, try this: when you leave the house, leave your phone home. “But what if I need it?” You won’t. If you get lost you can ask someone for directions. When you walk your dog you’ll actually be with your dog. When you’re at the gym, you can focus solely on your workout – the emails will still be there when you’re done. Meeting someone for coffee? Sit and relax while you wait for them to arrive. And just think about what a much better time you’ll have actually talking and connecting with your friend instead of checking every bing and ping while you’re with them.

You can disconnect at home, too. No, you really can. Start by declaring no phone in the bedroom. If you need an alarm to get you up in the morning, be old school and get an actual clock. What an emotional relief to not have that glow next to you all night, not to mention the constant push notifications. Your sleep will improve. And in the morning? You can start your day in an easier, kinder way when you don’t check all your social media accounts first thing.

And can we just stop bringing our phones into the bathroom? Please, let there be one bastion of solitude left in the world. This may be a good one to try first. It’s a relatively short amount of time to be away from your phone and at the very least you won’t be in danger of dropping it in the toilet.

Our phones are time vampires, sucking away at that valuable time we all say we don’t have enough of. We all have the same number of hours in a day, how many of those hours do you choose to spend with your phone? Now just think of all the hours you’ll have if you choose to spend them doing something else.

Try it, you’ll see. Without your phone you won’t be constantly hunched over. You’ll stand up straighter, improving your posture. When you improve your posture, you elevate your stance. An elevated stance puts you in a positive mood. When you stand tall you are tall. So stand up straight, throw those shoulders back, make eye contact and put the phone down.