Cell phone addiction is a problem that began as a solution. You felt bored or lonely – you reached for the phone. You saw a great sunset – you reached for your phone. You reached for your phone – you reached for your phone – and now you reach for your phone like a true addict.

If you even question if you have a phone addiction – you probably do. If you opened this article – you either have the addiction, or are concerned about someone you care for and whether they are a cell phone addict.

Virtual used to mean real. Now it means a step removed but almost as good as real. As in: ‘almost a life” as opposed to a real life.

As with all addictions, cell phone addiction is born of unfulfilled needs. The need to be included, the need to find a date, the need to meet people from a distance as you have not developed the skills to meet someone is real time.

SO… the cure lies in:

1. Acknowledging that you are a cell phone junkie.
2. Making paper and pen mindfulness notes that identify what you are truly wanting or feeling just before you (almost) instinctively pull you phone out.
3. Developing the skills to get those needs met without the phone (e.g. developing social skills,) enjoying that beautiful sunset – don’t miss it behind a cell phone camera (part of your anxiety was and is the feeling you are missing out on life – by living life through a cell phone, you end up, in fact: missing out on your life. Hence the solution has become the problem.)
4. Buy a watch. And not one of the wearable technology types either. Think about it, how often do you pull out your cell phone to find out what time it is and end up playing a game, messaging, checking the news, your stocks, insta-gram – whatever? Notice how your desire to feel connected ironically leads to feeling more stressed, disconnected and empty.
5. Turn off all notifications, pushes etc. You can start by doing that for short periods of time a few times a day and gradually increasing the time outs. You will feel anxious at first – but you will feel better with practice.
6. Build on the growing comfort and start setting cell phone free areas (e.g. the bathroom and/or in bed.)
7. Expand on that by turning the phone off (not to vibrate – but off) an hour before you go to bed until a half hour after you wake up. If you find yourself staying up later as a result of the fear of unplugging then set a definite time, say 11p.m. – 8 a.m.
8. Take a walk with you phone completely off and safely locked in your pocket. Only take it out in a true emergency.A sunset is beautiful because it is so ephemeral. They are moments in your real life or photos in your “almost being there life – it’s your choice – rich memories and soulful transcendent moments or photo albums only.
9. Develop a real life – a virtual one is settling for second best (or worse.)