5 Compelling Reasons To Put Down Your Cell Phone

I can be just as compulsive about looking at my cell phone as the next person. But a recent trip to a retreat center near Mt. Shasta that had no wifi and no cell service reminded me to re-evaluate my addiction (again).

As I prepare for our baby to arrive (September 20th is the due date, so he/she could really arrive any day now) I’ve been consciously choosing what is allowed into my life and what isn’t in a way I never have before. (For example, I haven’t watched a violent movie since I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t think the baby needed any extra adrenaline.)

I’ve gotten clarity about the idea that I don’t want to be a parent (or person, for that matter) who’s attached to her cell phone all day.

In the US, this week really feels like the last week of summer because it ends with Labor Day. So this is the perfect week to spend some time unplugged before the rush of fall truly begins.

Here are 5 compelling reasons to put down your cell phone:

1. Hunching forward over your cell phone causes anxiety. When you’re hunched forward your lung capacity is decreased and your breathing becomes shallow. This will make you feel anxious. And then you’ll feel compelled to check your cell phone even more because, for many of us, compulsive checking is a habit connected to a desire to soothe ourselves emotionally. Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle. 

2. Multi-tasking is impossible. We think we can do two things at once, but it’s actually impossible. Instead of doing two things at once our brain actually just switches back and forth from one thing to another. This makes us way less effective at doing either thing. If you’ve paid money to go to a conference, listen to the speakers instead of texting. You think you can listen and text at the same time, but you can’t. You’ll miss most of what is being said and be slower at texting.

Doing one thing at a time dramatically increases your ability to do it well. (Tweet it!)

3. Cell phones and other electronic devices emit potentially dangerous electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) and radiation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified mobile phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Because they haven’t been around long enough to study the effects of long-term use, we don’t really know what those effects might be. I mitigate possible harm by having a cell phone case that reduces radiation exposure and a pad to shield heat and radiation from my lap when using my laptop. Plus we don’t sleep with our cell phones in the bedroom, and if we must use them as an alarm we keep them on airplane mode.

4. You can’t be present with people in real life and be on your phone at the same time. Try having a conversation with someone who’s texting or scrolling their Instagram feed. Their answers are delayed, short, and sometimes completely unrelated to what you asked. They think they can be on their phone and talk to you at the same time, but they can’t. And neither can you.

Give the people in your life the gift of your presence by putting down your mobile device. (Tweet it!)

Your relationships will thrive as a result.

5. It’s worse to miss something in real life than missing something on the internet. Your Facebook comments and text messages will sit on your phone until you’re ready to look at them. The radiant smile of your child will not. Mike told me a while back that he sometimes felt like he had to compete with my cell phone for my attention. That was really hard to hear. I don’t want to be someone who misses out on quality conversations with my man, beautiful sunsets, and the miraculous moments of everyday life because my eyes and attention are glued to a tiny screen. I know you don’t either. Every time I unplug for a while I don’t miss anything significant. I find I can get caught up in a miniscule amount of time compared to the amount of time I was unplugged. And this proves how much time I was wasting scrolling and being plugged in before. (I guess #5 is pretty similar to #4, but it’s such an important point it felt necessary to say it two different ways.)

It’s a constant dance. I’m not going to be throwing away my cell phone, and I’m not advocating that you do either. But leaving your phone at home when you go to dinner with your family, putting it on airplane mode after 8pm, or planning a day a week where you unplug could all be sustainable, sanity-building practices.

So, whether it’s this upcoming holiday weekend or simply a moment on a regular day:

Put the screen down.

Lift your eyes.

And feast on your real life.

Over to you:

When do you feel most compelled to pick up your cell phone? How do you feel when you do? What have you found works for you around having technology boundaries in your house? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!

Please forward this to a friend who you know could use some time unplugged and share it on social media. And then put down your cell phone :)

katefbadfs2P.S. Have you seen this video on unblocking your money flow at home? It’s just 5 minutes. After implementing what she learned from it, my girlfriend received over $1600 in the mail in unexpected checks the same day. While this result is not guaranteed, it’s not unusual.

The video is free. Grab it here. 

It’s part of my course, Feng Shui for Financial Freedom and I’m offering a special, free bonus to anyone who enrolls in the course by 11:30pm EST tonight. The bonus is the last thing I’m doing live until 2016 because I go on maternity leave soon. Check out the video and the course here.




  • Great sharing Kate!! Keeping spacific timings for your cellphone peeps is also good option,so we can tell people call me btwn so n so time,soso n so time l answer ur msges,so people also could call us mindfully.

  • So timely, Kate! This has been on my mind a lot and I’m going to challenge my husband to a phone-free Labor Day weekend. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Love this article Kate! This is exactly what I’ve decided to try and do recently – break my addiction to constantly check my phone! My goodness it’s so hard! But I’m liking it so far, I noticed that when I don’t compulsively check my phone for emails, texts & facebook stuff, I actually feel more serene.

  • Kate, thanks for all the great work you’re doing. Wishing you great adventures and much happiness with the baby. And maybe some sleep here and there.

  • I could not agree more about cell phones, Kate. We’ve actually instituted a policy in our home, where guests are welcomed wholeheartedly and are also asked to put their phones in a basket near the door so that we can enjoy our time together without distraction. It makes some people a little anxious at first, but after they start to experience how different our interactions are, they get it.

    Another practice my friends and I have when we go out to dinner is to put our phones, turned off, in the middle of the table. Whoever reaches first for his or her phone before dinner ends has to pay the bill. It’s wonderfully effective!

    Lastly, I highly recommend a recent documentary entitled _Mobilized_. It’s a well researched film about the studies that have been and are being done on cell phone radiation emission, and how cell phone/communications companies are doing everything to prevent them from being made public. The statistics and data are clear: keep your phones at least one inch away from your body at all times when in use (preferred way of talking is by using plug-in earbud/microphone headsets or speakerphone), and turn them off as much as possible.

    The brain tumor correlation is particularly disturbing, and there’s also concern about breast cancer rates in young women who keep phones in their bras. There are warnings in the phone manuals, but the print is so small and the wording so obtuse that it’s hard for people to even know they’re there, never mind understand them.

    In addition–and you might find this interesting, given that you’re about to be a mom–what cell phone and iPad use does to children’s brains needs to give parents pause. Kids’ brains absorb twice the radiation that adults’ brains do. And when you see brain scans that show what happens on a scientific level, you think more than twice about allowing your child to access them. The film recommends strongly that no child under 12 should be using devices, and that the extra radiation absorption happens until they’re 21.

    Anyway, this comment is long, so I’ll stop now! The more we can all think about what cell phone (and tablet) addiction is doing to our interrelationships and ability to think, the better!

    All best,

    • Kate Northrup

      Wow Dawn! You’re a wealth of knowledge and ideas. I’m definitely going to check out that documentary. Thanks so much for your generous insights!

    • Deirdre

      Nicely put Dawn, and thank you for the info on radiation and baby brains, I’ll pass it along to my (adult) kids :-)

  • This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with/noticing lately! I feel so much more relaxed when I’m not tied to my phone. I’m trying to incorporate at least one cell phone free night each week. Hopefully I’ll eventually turn that into two or three :) Thank you for the tips!

  • This is important info! When I connect to wifi I usually have 7 options to choose from… So think of how much we’re exposed to! My parents lake house doesn’t have wifi and many people comment on how rejuvenated they are up there. Grounded and off the grid does a body good!

  • Leisa Collins

    Kate, I have not heard of a more purposefully prepared parent-to-be than you – all of my best wishes to you and your growing family! We will miss you while you are on leave, but have plenty of content to pour over and – more importantly maybe – to IMPLEMENT while you bond with your baby. I plan to have my Internet biz up and running by the time you are back professionally, and will hope to meet you as we are fellow southern Mainers!

    • Kate Northrup

      Congratulations on your new business Leisa and thank you for your kind wishes! While I’m on maternity leave I’m going to have a “blog babysitting series” with 8 women I’ve chosen to guest post. So you’ll be meeting all new, wonderful people while I’m away!

  • Thank you so much, Kate. I needed to hear this. Right now, I work full-time, started full-time school (online), am a part-time writer/author, AND a mom to a beautiful 2.5 year-old girl. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, can wait. My life is so full I don’t need those constant distractions.
    I’m trying to find an alarm similar to that on my phone, to limit phone use at night, but turning on to airplane mode is a really good idea.
    Thanks and many blessings to you as you prepare to transition into motherhood. This is an exciting time.

  • Anna

    I LOVE my phone. I enjoy taking pictures and posting them on Instagram. It’s so fun. I have started a weekly unplug which I’ve decided to practice. I call it Unplug Sunday. I completely turn off my phone enjoy my day. It was VERY difficult at first but then I thought, it’s only for a day! My kids are grown now but when I had them technology isn’t the way it is today but when they were younger, I made it a point not to have the cell phones at the dinner table. We also made Fridays nights watching rated G movies together. It’s so easy to get caught up on our devices. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just learning to balance everything out!

  • Hey Kate! I couldn’t have said it better! It is so true…. Sometimes I just can’t believe the loss of personal connection between us all. Thanks …. Congrats on the little one coming soon! :)

  • diane

    lol, I don’t have one, probably should for emergencies.I am probably the only person in the world that doesn’t own a cellphone, thing is don’t miss having a phone. good article though for those that do. I one time saw a woman and her son eating dinner, neither one of them spoke to each other, instead they buried their heads in their phone, ate in silence, and never spoke a word, now how sad is that. phones are great, like I said I should really have one just for emergencies on the road, but when they consume your life its time to do something about it.

  • Thanks Kate so very much for your passionate views on unplugging and the negative impact of EMF’s. I am aghast when I see a woman with a cell phone in her bra, or guy with it on hip or butt, as they do not know the consequences. As a Licensed Massage Therapist of 28 years, I am attuned to the results of cell phones, texting and too much sitting. Here are some facts from http://www.vibrantlife.com on TEXT NECK! The head weighs more than 10 pounds, so when bending down to text, it increases the weight on the cervical spine, more than doubling it at a 15 degree angle, and quadrupling at a 30. Should you really be into the reply of your text, hunching at a 60 degree angle, it increase the weight of your head to 60 pounds on the muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold your head up. As I gently massage, touch and empower my clients to be aware of their posture, it becomes apparent that many need added help!! May you be gently coming into your motherhood, with sound, loving choices for you, your baby and your family.. that is what I encourage – family wellness courtesy of nature, essential oils, and intentional choices!! Congrats!

  • Deirdre

    Exciting days ahead for you Kate you are an inspiration I share with my (soon to be) daughter in law (and in my heart). My older son chose the 20th Sept for his birth and he is a Virgo through and through (tidy room!!) and a good man…who helps children manage their parents…he’s a Child Psychologist :-)

  • Oh my God Kate, I had an aha moment reading this article. I had never looked at it from the point of view that my Facebook comments or tweets will sit on my phone until I am ready to look at them, having a light bulb moment right now hahaha! So true, thank you so much. I recently stopped using my phone in my bedroom, and I am loving that freedom of not being on my phone before I sleep or as soon as I wake up.

  • Thanks for this Kate! Especially the tip to put the phone on airplane mode at night when using it for an alarm. We live in another time zone from most of our friends and family and those little notification bleeps can be really disturbing in the night – even if in the other room!

    I also agree that the most valuable thing we give others is our undivided attention. Simple acts of love.

    Blessings on the arrival of your child.

  • Richard Stones UK

    Great Post Katie ,my girlfriend gets annoyed when I check my phone all the time when I’m with her.

    Is it funny why the person who text you ,becomes more important than the person opposite you !!why? ..I’m going to try the flight mode thing after 8pm x

  • Ugh this is such a big problem! It’s a serious addiction! I turn off all alerts for my phone so I don’t get distracted during the day. I think almost all of us need the advice in this post.

  • Masutu

    I love it Kate!!!!!!!!

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