Healthy Alternatives to Scrolling Through Your Phone

Waiting rooms, the coffee line, public transportation and your bed all have something in common: more than likely, these are all places you spend time scrolling through your phone.

Itís easy to do. Itís amazing that the devices in our pockets and purses give us access to virtually endless information and entertainment. However, whether you are just playing games or looking at your social media feeds, a study at Baylor University reveals that those with depression may be checking their phones more often.

This correlation doesnít necessarily mean that smartphones are responsible for making people depressed, but rather that those with depression may feel a greater need to check their phones more often. This isn’t the only link between social media and depression, so what you are doing on your smartphone does actually count.

That being said, despite the many wonderful things that smartphones can do, there are healthy alternatives to grabbing it absent-mindedly. Itís often such an automatic response to any downtime that we arenít giving our brains enough time to wander and be creative. Next time you feel the urge to scroll on the little illuminated screen, try these ideas instead.

Write in a journal.

This is the perfect activity for unwinding before bed or if you are grabbing a cup of coffee alone in your downtime. Having a pocket-sized notebook on hand when you go out makes it just as convenient as a smartphone for filling any waiting time. Making a point to write down the things youíre grateful every day is shown to improve happiness.


Once you learn the basics of meditation, you can utilize the practice just about anywhere. Do you have an hour long train commute to work? Try listening to some white noise in headphones to block out the noise. Rather than mindlessly filling the time with a screen, meditation allows you to purposefully use your time in a healthy, relaxing way.

Engage in small talk.

Depending on the culture where you live, this could be a faux pas. However, if you live in areas where talking to strangers is commonplace, this exercise could open several opportunities. If you are anxious in social situations, this is a small step to start to alleviate those fears. Simply complimenting a stranger on his or her outfit while you both wait in line for coffee could lead to a wonderful interaction and maybe even a new friendship.

Do a quick sketch.

After mandatory art classes in elementary school, how often do you still pick up the pencil and try something creative? There are actually cognitive benefits to doodling, so using that notebook youíre carrying around now to sketch something is a great way to kill time. Thereís not a right or wrong thing to draw, but observational drawing is a skill that often goes by the wayside in formal education.

People watch.

Without being too creepy, you can observe the people around you for a fascinating way to pass the time. Being quiet and fully watching and listening to others may actually increase your empathy for people in general. The greatest stories are often rooted in reality, so this is especially great for writing and other creative endeavors.

Actually use it as a phone.

If youíre unwinding at the end of the day but still crave social interaction, give someone an old-fashioned phone call rather than scrolling through social media. We use our smartphones for so many things. But depending on your generation, you may rarely use it as an actual phone. As nice as it is to be able to keep up with our friends online, an actual conversation is unmatched for what it can do for your connection and mood.

Do nothing.

Our fast-paced culture doesnít really leave a lot of room for doing nothing. But itís important to give your brain a break. Being alone with just your thoughts is a scary prospect if there are things weighing you down. However, giving those things adequate attention means they are less likely to haunt you down the road. Instead of being distracted by your phone at all times, perhaps just sitting back and letting your mind wander will bring some clarity or a new idea.


Lesa D
Past Member 10 months ago

read a book!

thank you Ashlyn...

natasha p
Past Member about a year ago


Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago


Bailey R.
Bailey R2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

How I wish other people would take advantageous of these tips!!

Rose Becke
Rose Becke3 years ago

Great advice

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 3 years ago

So glad someone has finally written this article!! I refuse to waste my money on anything beyond a fold-up cell phone and a desktop computer!! Old-fashioned ways to spend one's time are much better. Thank you for posting.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.