If you want to be an elite athlete, you are advised to use your limited time off for real physical and mental rest. Distracting yourself through social media while you are waiting for your turn to climb, or while laying in bed before falling asleep or even during eating your lunch might decrease the quality of your recovery. A lack of recovery will most likely lower your energy level and, in turn, most likely your training and competition performance.  

In the article “How smartphone addiction influences our performance”, we talked about the possible negative consequences of smart phone usage. Today we want to focus on how to decrease the usage of portable devices in a smart and constructive way.

But beforehand, here’s an overview of possible negative consequences of a smartphone usage:

Isolation, depression, waste of time, less time to relax and recover, less focus on one task, distraction in important conversations, constant comparison with other athletes and people which could lead to increased jealousy, dissatisfaction and to less self-esteem.

What can you do?

  1. First of all, evaluate how much time you really spend on your phone through e.g. installing an app. There are several apps out there which count your time spent on any kind of app. If you know the real amount, you might be surprised and motivated to decrease the amount!  

  2. Physically distance yourself from your portable will help to suppress the itch and habit to scroll through it. Put your phone out of sight and away from your body because the mere presence of one’s own smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity by depleting finite cognitive resources.

    If you can see or feel your phone in your pocket you will still need cognitive capacity for trying to not think about it! 

  3. Set yourself a goal. Take a moment and think about the number of hours you spend on your phone. They include many useful hours like talking to a good friend who is too far away to meet or checking in with your sport psychologist or coach about an upcoming competition. But also think about the time you just go through different apps, forgetting most of the info/pics you just scrolled through pretty fast anyway. Is this really the way you want to live and spend your free time – instead of using it for qualitative rest or connecting with real people?

    You can be more mindful by moving your mind from the virtual place to the same place as your body is in the here and now. Start by setting your individual goal. It is important that it is your own goal in order to be intrinsically (innerly, self-) motivated for accomplishing it.

  4. There are also apps which help you decrease your phone usage by restricting your access to specific or all apps after a certain amount of time. This can be very helpful to reduce your time on the phone to important and useful tasks only. 

  5. You are not as important as you think you are. You don’t have to check your phone all the time. It is ok to not answer immediately. If it is really important, you might also get a phone call. Try to integrate a “screen-free” time on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your phone at all. Try to consciously plan some time where you can use your portable devices for important things. It is totally unrealistic to live without a phone nowadays, but it is necessary to know how to deliberately deal with it.

    Using a phone while being with people, disables genuine depth, deep conversations and empathy for others. These are important qualities of friendships. And we all know how important friends are in life, in times of success and failure.

Present athletes always trump absent athletes!