Break Your Phone Habit With This Smoking Cessation Technique
At this point, you’ve probably read about the detrimental effects of the doom scrolling habit on your mental health (if you couldn’t already tell from the fact that it makes you feel terrible). Maybe you even cut back a little . But then it happened last week. And even if you’re now more in cautious optimism scrolling territory, the latest twists and turns in the news cycle have likely put your phones back in your hands.
Now that the election has been decided (-isch), you may find that you need help managing your additional phone again, which may be even stronger than before. If you want to make a difference, you might want to consider trying to kick your phone using a technique designed to help people cope with another important addiction: smoking. Here’s what to do.
When Australian writer McKinley Valentine realized that she was constantly checking her phone and that the constant stream of junk comments she posted was making her mood worse, she decided to do something about it. In an article about her experiences written for Better Humans , she describes how she got started :
I’ve tried disabling notifications in every app. I just got worried and started opening apps more often.
I tried to uninstall apps from my phone that were causing problems – social networks, news, messages. I ended up just accessing them in the browser.
I’ve tried using apps like Stay Focused to block my access. I would just turn them off.
I tried just not checking my phone – the cold turkey method – and guys, it didn’t work. All it did was add a layer of guilt to my bad habit and bad mood.
I thought: I need to get smarter in this matter. Who knows about addiction? What addiction has been studied over decades in a very large group of subjects to establish cutting-edge methods? Cigarettes!
Alan Carr’s Method
Not only did Valentine’s brother quit smoking with Alan Carr’s Easy Way (ACE), the method has also stood up to scrutiny in research, including a study published in 2020 in the journal Addiction that found it to be just as effective as traditional methods of smoking cessation. Steps:
Remind yourself of what smoking / phone use is doing for you
Carr begins by summarizing all the negative effects of smoking (Valentine recreated this by reading a bunch of online articles on the subject). Yes, this is basically what we already know, but the goal is to reinforce the idea that there is a huge difference between what we want and what we really like .
Carr recommends working hard to really notice and internalize this gap. He advises smokers to pay attention to the next cigarette. It’s like being mindful, but to notice trouble. How does it taste? Not “how did you imagine it would taste when you wanted it,” but how does it actually taste? Smells good? Do your hands smell good? How do you feel – are you really relaxing or are you feeling worse?
She then tried this mindfulness strategy after spending a few minutes on Twitter and noticed that she definitely felt worse after that. “The more I really paid attention to the reality of how much I ‘liked’ checking my phone, the easier it became to resist the impulse. It just became … obvious, ” she writes .
Set the date
Next on the anti-smoking agenda (or, in this case, on the phone): set a date to quit smoking and actively wait for it. On Valentine :
Don’t think, “Oh my god, I need to give it up. It will suck. ” Tell yourself, “I can’t wait to leave! I’ll have less stress, I’ll have more free time, I’ll be a more considerate friend … ”Consider getting fired as a great opportunity, what to expect, not as a burden.
From here, Valentine moved on to the rest of Carr’s methods that can be found on his website . She cautions that the site does promote its seminars and other things you have to pay for, but you can get everything you need from a book (which can be bought at regular places).
Of all the smoking cessation techniques she has used (you can read about them in her article ), Valentine had the most success with Carr, who, she says , not only helped her resist the urge to check her phone, but also eliminated them:
At the end of the day, it didn’t feel like picking the clearly best option – I mean, for years, I knew there were better options than stressing and worrying every time I had a “break.” It felt more like the decision was made for me on a deeper level than my normal verbally thinking brain. It just settled there and became a reality.
And while she didn’t exactly have a miraculous, life-changing experience, Valentine says the difference in her mood was noticeable and her days improved without constantly checking her phones. If you find yourself in a similar place after the elections, you can try Carr’s method.