Why to avoid reaching for your phone when you first wake up

March 25th 2021

2 out of 3 people say the first thing they do when they wake up is reach for their phone. Don't!!!


I did a bit of research to see before writing this to see if my perception was right – and the result in my survey (accepting this is not going to meet any statistical validation!!) is that 2 in 3 people said that yes, as soon as they woke up they reached for their phones – and that is not just to turn the alarm off!

And if you can relate to that, I am here to say STOP IT!!

Reaching for your phone can have a big impact on the anxiety levels and stress that you will experience for the rest of the day.

(PS and if reading is your thing, read on, or watch a video here)

Imagine there is a runner.  He wakes up and within minutes, the trainers are on and he is out there, running.  A little way in, it starts to rain and it frustrates him.  The ground gets muddy and he can’t run as he wants to.  And then he slips and twists his ankle which causes him to limp the rest of the day.

Then there is a second runner.  She wakes up, slowly stretches.  She takes on board some water to hydrate in preparation for her run.  Does a bit of yoga to warm up her body and about half an hour after easing herself out from under the duvet, she eases herself out of the door!

A little way into her run it start to rain.  But she just thinks, “No worries, I’m going to shower as soon as I get back anyway so it doesn’t matter.”

It also starts to get muddy and she slips too.  But because her muscles were stretched and warm, she is not injured, picks herself up and continues her way back home.

What is the relevance of this story?

Let's take running out and put phones back in....

Person 1, picks up his phone and looks at BBC news  – it’s all frustratingly dreary, a bit like the rain outside!  He then flicks through social media, slipping and sliding around between the apps, never really settling on anything for long.

And then he opens the email.  And in his inbox is a stroppy message from a colleague that he realises he has to deal with.  And dealing with that email sits in his mind nagging away, causing a pain all day.

Our other ‘runner’, gets up, has a bit of a stretch but DOES NOT reach for her phone.  She has a shower, a bit of breakfast and waiting for her in her inbox is also a stroppy email she needs to deal with.  And when she gets into work and sees it, she is in the mindset and environment that makes it easier to deal with.  She has created a foundation for her day that means things do not disrupt her nearly as easily.

So my recommendation is...

For the first half hour, ideally the first hour, do not touch your phone and focus on creating a good foundation for your day.

This may just be getting on with the normal things like showers and breakfast – you just have not exposed yourself to ‘rain, mud and twisted ankles!!’

However you could also invest a bit of time in stretching your mind to make it ready for the day ahead – a bit like athletes stretch their bodies.  This may be a bit of self development – reading or watching some videos that stretch your mind making you mentally stronger.  It may be a bit of meditation or yoga, that stretches the mind AND the body!

Create a bookend

This is what I call bookending.

Just think of how bookends works on a shelf of books.  They create a structure that means you can take books out of the middle and the others do not fall over.  If the bookends were not there, the books would all fall over.

This suggested way to start your day is like the bookend at the front of your day.  What then goes on in the middle (like stroppy colleagues!) does not cause the whole day to fall apart – ie all the books to fall over – because you have created a structure to contain it.

And yep, I know that bookends come in pairs and if you want to know what the evening bookend is, then you can find more about that here with the attitude of gratitude exercise.

Invest in creating a warm up for your day that can reduce the risk of stress and anxiety

So in summary, I would love you to invest in creating a warm up for your day:

– Leave your phone downstairs ideally and don’t touch it for half an hour, ideally an hour

– Use the time to stretch your mind to prepare for the day’s demands ahead, and by doing so, allowing it to be more able to deal with any challenges you will face.

Are you up for giving this a go?
Let me know in the comments box below.

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and public speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work

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