In today's fast-paced digital era, our lives have become deeply intertwined with technology. We find ourselves constantly glued to our screens, spending countless hours scrolling through social media feeds, and losing touch with the world around us. Our smartphones have become a constant source of distraction, pulling us away from the feelings of awe, wonder and joy we get when we spend time outside.
What stops you nurturing your relationship with nature?
A recent survey of We Are Stardust folk showed:
- Lack of time for 30% of people
- Distraction by technology for 26% of people
I get it. In 2021 my anxiety was getting worse, I had insomnia and when I was tired I reached for my phone, scrolling away sometimes finding wonderful folk, sometimes reading things that made me feel inadequate, not enough.
At the same time I was desperate to spend more time outside making art.
How I went from spending 6-5 to 3 hours on my phone daily
I started tracking my time on my phone. I was shocked to see I spent on average 5-6 HOURS on my phone every day. That didn’t even count the time I spent on my laptop or in front of the TV.
Today (2023) I have reduced my phone time to around 3 hours and spend between 1-2 hours a day outside, sometimes up to 2 hours drawing and painting by the river. I barely watch TV anymore and rarely listen to or watch the news.
There were many strands that led to this change in my life. Partly it was a necessity; my mental health took a huge nosedive in 2021-2022 and I had to make big changes. And there were also small, subtle shifts that took time – two years - to come to fruition.
And I want this for you too.
Why it’s hard
Technology companies make our phones addictive – because more time online = more advertising time = more money. Technology can be wonderful (it has allowed me to run my business for example) and yet our relationship with technology can be harmful.
Added to this, time spent in nature is NOT valued by our society making us feel lazy and selfish for desiring a life rich with earth and moonlight and berry juice on our lips and grass between our fingers, birdsong in our souls. Our relationship with the more-than-human and our own nature can be full of neglect and abandonment.
5 ideas to help you spend less time on your phone and more time outside
Here’s what helped me and what I hope will help you too:
Decide when you want to be available on social media and emails and delete those apps off your phone when in your down time. Trust that you don't need to be available at all times.
- Track screen time: A wake-up call and crucial first step toward positive change.
- Delete apps: Decide when you want to be available on social media and emails and delete those apps off your phone when in your down time. Trust that you don't need to be available at all times.
- Notice your feelings: Observe the impact of phone use and time spent outside. Your body provides cues. Feel the tension when reaching for your phone and the release when stepping outside.
- Find a focus: Having a clear focus allows intentional time outdoors, making the most of your precious spare time.
- Seek inspiration and support: Surround yourself with like-minded folk and immerse yourself with enriching podcasts, books, and communities.
What might less time online and more time outside look like?
Say you want to focus on learning more about the sky. You may find you have a spare moment – 10 minutes before the kids wake up or you have to start work – and where before you may have reached for your phone, this time you step outside and look at the clouds and wonder…
…why are the clouds that shape?
…where have the clouds come from?
…how did the clouds begin?
These pockets of everyday awe and wonder will slowly sink into your very being. Once you notice something, you can’t un-notice it. You share it with others – such as those in The Stardust Collective or Rewild Your Soul - who will appreciate and validate your joy of noticing the swirling clouds above.
The clouds, their shapes and colour will become part of your story, your life will become richer, you will remember the rapture of being alive.