• Think before you reach for your phone, and ask yourself if you are using it for a purpose or out of boredom.
  • Texting a loved one has shown to lower blood pressure.
  • Listening to music with others can help to boost your bond.
  • Research shows that taking a photo of something you like can improve your wellbeing.
  • Apps can be used to help create new healthy habits and break bad ones.

1. Think first

Before you pick up your phone, ask yourself why you need it, says Anya Kamenetz, author of The Art of Screen Time. “This way, you’ll use it with purpose and not out of anxiety or boredom.” If you’re with another person and really do need to check your phone, she says, “tell him or her out loud why you’re picking it up.” That simple statement can go a long way toward avoiding any hurt feelings.

2. Send boring texts

Next time you feel like you're pulling your hair out at work, initiate a "What do you want for dinner?" test chat with your partner, suggests a US study. Researchers found that exchanging mundane messages with a loved one can lower blood pressure, which commonly rises in response to stress.

3. Listen together

Personal music devices have led to a cease-fire in radio battles in the car or at home, but here’s a good reason to go earbud free with loved ones: listening to music can boost the bond between you, says a US study. “Music leads to coordination via moving or singing together, and when you feel ‘in sync’ with someone, you tend to like that person more,” says study co-author Dr Jake Harwood.

4. Snap a daily favourite

That amazing photo of your home-baked cake doesn't just make a fun Instagram post – it can also improve your wellbeing, suggests a new study published in the journal Health. Over a two-month period, researchers interviewed people who took one photo a day of something they liked. Some said they felt less lonely after sharing the image with friends, while others felt more “in the moment” just by having taken the shot. “The commitment provides an opportunity for daily interaction, engagement with your environment and a sense of purpose and achievement, all of which can affect your wellbeing,” says study co-author Dr Andrew Cox. 

5. Kick-start a healthy pattern

Digital lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch says habit-tracking apps, such as Done and HabitBull (both free), can help you create a routine and stick to it. “One of my goals is to write in a journal every morning to ease my anxieties,” she says. “Done’s alerts make sure I never forget, and its tracking feature inspires me to keep up my momentum".

6. ...And break a bad one!

Research shows that people check their phone up to 100 times a day, so here’s one way to get more work done. With the Forest: Stay Focused app, you plant a virtual seed (which will eventually grow into a tree), set a working time and then put your phone down. If you use another app during your working time, your tree will wither away. So cute.


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