While our mobile devices are ever-present in our lives these days, we don’t always use them with the best of intention, even if we think our doom scrolls on social are helping take the edge off. As we've seen in recent headlines from major news outlets and health leaders, treating your device as something that’s okay to engage with just because it’s always there can take a toll on our mental health. Just because it feels easy doesn’t mean it’s helping us take it easy.
Haesue Jo, clinical support lead for online mental health platform BetterHelp, embraces the idea of using our smartphones as an extension of ourselves — being present no matter the place or platform.
“I am a big fan of mindfulness in general, which is the idea of being attuned to your present moment and what’s going on with your mind and body,” Jo said on the “Mobile Mindfulness” episode of the T-Mobile Stories team’s Mobile Diaries podcast. “It’s about paying attention to what makes sense for you versus what’s getting in the way of you living your life.”
The practice of mindfulness can take many forms, and if we use our devices strategically, we can work towards achieving a calmer state of mind. Sometimes the key to relaxation really is in the palm of your hand. From meditation apps to yoga videos, there are plenty of resources that can allow your device to be your partner in relaxation. We’ve put together this handy Zen guide with a few quick tips on how to use your device to unwind your mind.
Make use of "focus" modes.
While we may not always have the luxury of being able to unplug for long periods of time, most devices offer the closest possible escape in the form of “focus” modes. Often found in your phone’s settings or as a dedicated app, these modes let you take a break from notifications while you sleep, drive or zero in on your projects. In terms of specific apps that aim to promote focus or boost productivity, look into ones that gamify the process like Forest or apps such as GoodNotes or Notability that allow you to digitally plan your day and schedule in those much needed breaks and recharge sessions.
Chill out with a mindfulness app.
Being our most productive self feels great, but stress can often block us from getting to that point. This is where mindfulness apps come into play, including popular ones like Calm, Headspace and Sanvello. Apps in this category allow you to achieve a state of calm by introducing intentional breathing techniques, journaling space, expert advice and more. By setting aside of bit of time each day to tap into your favorite mindfulness practice, you’ll no doubt notice positive changes in your overall wellbeing. In addition to caring for your mind, you can also tap into wellness videos, with a wide variety available for free on apps like YouTube, that will guide you through a session of Pilates or gentle yoga.
Elevate your mood through sound.
Whether it’s music, guided meditations or ASMR TikToks (no judgement here!), we all have sounds that transport us to that Zen-like state. Whatever your favorite streaming service is, pick a playlist that helps you kick back and let that be the soundtrack for your day. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out this song whose calming effects are backed by science.
Get in sync with your body.
Spending all day on your phone can be difficult on the body, especially for those of us who have a tendency to slouch. (Guilty!) Sitting with your shoulders back and chin up is not often top of mind when fixated on your screen. Having an awareness of your body while you casually use your device might sound like advice you’d rather swipe left on, but studies referenced in books such as Presence: Bring Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges — which you can download and read or listen to on your mobile phone — explain some of the science behind how our posture is connected to our wellbeing.
Make your lock screen meditative.
Smartphones are becoming more and more customizable, and sometimes we overlook the versatility of more basic features like lock screens. We see our screens constantly, so spaces like lock screens offer the perfect real estate for a relaxing or motivational visual. A popular practice has been creating vision board lock screens, a collage of images that might contain your personal goals, memories that make you happy, or inspirational quotes that really speak to you. You can use a variety of tools, or find pre-made ones online, to motivate you and make you at feel at peace every time you pick up your phone.