How can I detox from being on my phone all the time? Look at the practices of Jesus about rest.


How to Phone Detox (One Flush at a Time)

Donny Black

7 mins

I found freedom in the bathroom.

Hi, I’m Donny, and my phone owned my brain.

TikTok, Zillow Searches, Amazon deals of the day, responding to my friend’s urgent question of what I thought about the latest episode of Ted Lasso…when will I ever catch up on all this?!

I was a chronic phone checker.

What is a chronic phone checker? It looks different for each person. For me, it included everything stated above. Plus, continually checking my email to see what sweet deals I could send to trash, reviewing my Dogecoin status (it currently looks like the Titanic), and being obsessed with the IMDB app to see the name of every actor in every movie EVER MADE.

Checking my phone began to consume all the in-between moments of life. If I had a free thirty seconds, my phone would instantly make its way out of my pocket, and that thirty seconds became ten minutes, and - shoot - now I’m running late for my next meeting.

How to Phone Detox

Running out of Headspace (and God-Space)

This got to the point where I realized I hadn’t been bored in a long time. I actually couldn’t even remember the last time I was bored. Maybe there was one time in an elevator that had bad reception…

I’ve had access to any video, song, and answers to questions worldwide for a decade, and it’s nearly dried up my sense of wonder and imagination. I’m in my 20s, and I’m already starting to think about the good ol’ days when I would be bored and think of funny stories or have questions and only ponder them (and not Google them).

And sometimes (I shudder even thinking of this), my brain would just be quiet. Scary, right?

I also found that my time with God had almost completely disappeared. There was no more praying or reading my Bible before bed, only doom-scrolling myself to sleep. Even car rides, showers, or runs were filled with more podcasts instead of sitting silently and patiently waiting to hear God’s voice.

I was growing numb to everything around me - not just God. I missed having those silent moments during the day to rest and reset. I needed to change something to get back to boredom and get in tune with God.

Phone Detoxing

I thought about quitting all the filler stuff in my life cold turkey. I then evaluated all the times in life when I’ve tried to quit things cold turkey, and they usually always ended in a crash-and-burn scenario because I went too big too quickly. In high school, I went on a juicing diet, and it ended with me being passed out on my kitchen floor from not eating enough for three days.

So, I needed a small step to start new habits in my life to have better success.

Humble Beginnings of Phone Detoxing

My first action was to stop taking my phone to the bathroom.

There were two reasons for this decision. First, it was a small daily decision to help remove the subconscious habit of pulling out my phone when I had downtime.

Secondly, when you think about it, it’s gross. To have this electronic rectangle you touch with your hands and put on your face near a toilet…let’s just hope you keep it out of the splash zone. And to those reading this article while on the toilet, I’m only slightly judging you.

At first, even this tiny life adjustment felt like torture. I missed the endless scrolling and felt irritated that I was not being entertained while I pooped (imagine our ancestors trying to comprehend that sentence).

But after a week or so of detox, things began to turn around.

My anxiety started to drop, and my headspace was clearing up a bit. For the first time in a long time, I was not severely connected and plugged into the matrix of distraction. It was like taking a deep breath of mental relaxation. I do not, however, suggest taking a deep breath in the bathroom. That place smells.

The Why Behind The Phone-less Lavatory

Part of my prompting to make this life change was when I kept seeing themes of rest in the Bible. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples to rest after a long day.

“He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves” (Mark 6:31-32).

Right after this, we see the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus knows our need to rest and escape the constant buzz of the world. There are multiple times throughout the gospel when Jesus goes off into the wilderness to be alone, pray, and recharge before the next big thing.

And if Jesus seemed to be the kind of guy not to take his phone (or, uhm, scroll) to the toilet, then I knew I should probably do it too.

Before I started this new habit, it felt impossible to think of not having my phone on me in the bathroom. But after a week or so, I realized how much better I felt not being enslaved to the compulsion of phone-checking (even if it was just in this one area of my life).

This began a more extensive process of adding more boredom to my life.

The Overhaul for More God

I started leaving my phone in other rooms during meals. Overnight, I’d plug it in to charge on the other side of the bedroom. Eventually, I deleted all apps that were fighting for my attention. I began to read more, and I sleep better now.

Phone Detox Freedom

Over time I have introduced some of these apps back into my life, but I’ve got a new rule for them. I can only utilize them on a laptop. Did you know you can access most of these services on your laptops?!

My other rule is I always have to log out when I’m done using them; that way, if my caveman brain opens a new tab and types in, I have to make the active choice to log in if I really want to be on this website. I was amazed at how unmotivated I was to type in my login information and that I really just wanted the instant stimulation of my page being pulled up.

The more I removed these things from my daily life, the more freedom my brain felt. I became okay with not being plugged into the entire social world at all times. My overall anxiety about everything began to drop, and the need to know the question to every answer diminished.

Pro tip - if you have a question, don’t Google it immediately. Just think about it, and if you want to know after a few hours, Google it.

Our time in the bathroom might not be equal to sabbathing, but taking those small breaks to reset and refresh can help us get into more regular rhythms of rest that prepares us for the next thing ahead. And that next ahead could be your greatest breakthrough, thought, or brain blast.

I stopped taking my phone to the bathroom and saw God. And I’m excited about where I will see him next.

Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

Donny Black
Meet the author

Donny Black

I proudly wear the titles of husband, Dada, and amateur barista. By day, I work at Crossroads helping create weekend services, and by night you can find me falling asleep to old movies. Bonus fact! In college I was on a traveling gymnastics team.

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