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Why Your Phone Shouldn't Be A Part Of Your Morning Routine

Even though it's so, so hard to stop.

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s (almost) daily guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday through Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit: Don’t check your phone when you get up in the morning.

For whenever you’re feeling: Like you need to cut down on your screen time.

What it is: I am definitely guilty of checking my phone as soon as I wake up in the morning. It’s terrible! But there it is: the alarm goes off, I grumble about getting up early, then I roll over, grab my phone from the side table, and check my email, any messages I may have missed overnight, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This all happens in the span of a few minutes, but it’s a habit I can’t shake off, and I really, really want to.

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A study from IDC Research found that 80 per cent of smartphone users check their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up each morning.

But is it actually bad to check your phone first thing in the morning? Most experts will say yes, so here are a few tips to help you release your phone from your morning routine.

How it can help: Checking your smartphone first thing in the morning will do several things: make you more stressed out and overwhelmed, make it more difficult for you to prioritize tasks, and make you feel already behind in your day.

Previous research has linked our constant attention to our phones — including getting notifications and checking email — to elevated stress levels. So, flooding our brains with all this information right when we get out of bed can immediately make us feel lousy.

“When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications, it frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of ‘all the things I’ve missed since yesterday,’” Tristan Harris, Google’s former Design Ethicist, wrote on Medium.

By leaving our phones alone, we can start our day on a more relaxed and fresh note. Instead of worrying about the work emails we have to reply to, or the articles we should read, or comparing ourselves to others (hello, Instagram!), we can focus on our own basic needs first: a shower, breakfast, a coffee (or two), brushing our teeth, taking time to pick out our clothes, get the kids ready for school.

To put it simply: when we don’t look at our phones right away, we will feel more present and mindful about how we’re feeling, rather than letting our emails and notifications tell us how we should be feeling.

How to get started: Ah yes, here comes the hard part: actually not looking at your phone for at least a half hour after you wake up.

So, let’s take a tip from Harris, who suggests that instead of checking your phone as soon as you roll out of bed, do another activity that you really need to do.

For example, I really need to take a shower in the morning to feel awake and ready for my day. For you, that may mean drinking a cup of coffee or tea; reading a newspaper, exercising, meditating, or eating breakfast. Whatever that habit is, do it before you check your phone. You may find that after doing this activity, you won’t want to even check Facebook.

Dude, let go of your phone!
Drazen Zigic via Getty Images
Dude, let go of your phone!

Jari Roomer, author of the e-book 27 Productivity Hacks, suggests putting your phone on flight mode before you go to bed, so that when you wake up you’re not bombarded with a bunch of notifications.

How it makes us feel: Personally, whenever I start my day by looking at my phone I immediately feel overwhelmed, and a bit depressed because of all the bad news happening in our world. And that’s not a great way to start the day.

But when I don’t check my phone I can really concentrate on myself and my toddler. I’m happier knowing that I’m doing stuff for myself (those hot showers are key) and I’m not as rushed at getting into work.

And that’s your habit of the day.

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