How to Break Your Morning Phone Addiction

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Do you reach for your phone the moment you wake up every morning? Claire gives you a tip on how to break that habit and regain some calm at the beginning of your day. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who is contemplating divorce, but wants to remain friends post-split.

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Claire  00:01

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you grab your phone? I know I do. Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to New Day. Now in your feed three times a week. As you know, my goal is to help make your life a little better one episode at a time. Today’s practice is about your phone. If you’re like me, you’re probably reaching for it before you’re even out of bed. But I’ve been giving this habit a lot of thought, especially as I tried to teach my kids how to better regulate their phone usage. What I’m seeing for them is that time on their phones is draining them of their own creativity. I’m also seeing that social media is making them anxious, jealous and feel left out. For me, looking at my phone first thing in the morning often has me starting my day in a frenzy. All I’m thinking about is bills schedules, work obligations, kid duties, I haven’t even kicked the covers off yet. But I know that like my kids are starting my day by consuming a bunch of stress and even information I don’t need in my head is definitely sapping my creativity and my space for just free flowing thoughts. I’ve been urging the kids not to focus on their phone so much, we have a new rule that they can’t look at them until they’re fully dressed and ready to walk out the door in the morning.


But I realized I needed to put this into practice for myself too. So I’m now giving myself 30 minutes to an hour before I look at my phone in the morning. And the result has been pretty awesome. I realized that by looking at it before I was even out of bed. I was starting my day by reacting to this insane amount of information I was downloading. Whether it was a work email or something catastrophic. I read in the news headlines I scrolled through, or even a picture I saw on social media of what one of my best friends ate for dinner last night. I wasn’t allowing myself to start the day with my own thoughts. I was simply consuming a bunch of information that sent me spinning out into emotions like anxiety, and the frustration or lack. By the simple act of choosing not to look at my phone first thing in the morning, I’ve been rediscovering my own thoughts and feeling a renewed sense of who I am not who I am in reaction to the world around me. And by the time I finally do look at my phone, I’m awake and relaxed and ready to take on whatever is coming my way. Look, I get that this might feel like a big ask. But start by trying it just one day. Maybe it’s a weekend day. Maybe it’s your most stressful day. See how it feels? If you like it, try it more often. I found that just doing this even one day a week makes a huge difference. I can tell you from personal experience, it’ll help.

Claire  02:39

And our Monday and Wednesday episodes, I answer your questions. Here’s a question that came in from Jay in Iowa. Jay writes, you mentioned that you are friends with your ex-husband. I’m so curious to hear more about that. I’m contemplating divorce and have been lifelong best friends with my spouse. So a continued friendship in some ways seems natural. I’m curious to hear your story and what that looks like for you. Great question, Jay in Iowa. You know, when I got divorced, I never imagined that people would come to me for so many questions about divorce. And when is it right? And how do you become friends with your ex. I am not an expert in divorce. But I am an expert in my own divorce. And I know people are very curious about my situation, you know, my ex-husband and I are in a good place, we have moved back and forth across the country together. We co-parent two kids together. I talk to him every day; I probably see him almost every day. I think every time I look at my phone, there’s a text from my now husband and my ex-husband. That’s how much we’re just always all in communication, and it cracks me up. However, we are coming up on eight years since we split and did not look this way in the beginning. Divorce is really hard.


It’s really sad, it’s painful, even when it’s the right thing, even when you know that this is time for the marriage to end or the best thing for the both of you is to move on from this relationship. It’s still hard. So it took us a while to get into this place. I think for a year or two. We just both had a lot of pain around it. It was hard to interact, it was hard to know how to interact in these kinds of new roles. But I think that we both had a really common goal of taking care of our kids together, of you know, just being compassionate people and wanting good things for all of us all around. So with time we kind of began to figure out new roles and just kind of ease into it. We’ve done a lot of holidays together. He comes over for Christmas morning even with my now husband sometimes and it’s awkward and it’s fine and the kids are doing great. But I think there’s a lot of different ideas about what life looks like after divorce and what relationships can look like. I have a ton of friends who have gone through a million different iterations that don’t look like my situation. I have friends that really struggled to be in communication with their exes who struggle around issues with the kids.

Claire  05:05

But you know, the thing that I’ll say about that, too, is that it just seems like it’s something that always changes like it’s always evolving. Even my current husband and his ex-wife have had a fairly acrimonious relationship. And they’re recently going through like a renaissance and it’s around one of their kids, and I see them in a better place than I’ve ever seen them. So just keeping in mind that these things do change, they do evolve, giving them time. The one thing I want to say is that don’t make your decision about ending the marriage based on whether or not you guys are going to be friends. Because again, these things take time they change. And I think if you need to leave the marriage, if you know that it’s time for this marriage to be over. You can’t stay in it. Because you’re afraid you won’t be friends. I think you need to exit the relationship. If you know that that is what is best for you. sorting out the friends piece down the road will come with time. I think that divorce therapy and continued couples therapy after you get divorced is great. I know a couple of divorced families who the exes go to therapy once a month together, and it’s really helpful.


There’s of course, the famous conscious uncoupling book by Katherine Woodward Thomas, I think Gwyneth Paltrow put that on the map. There’s also a great book called the co-parenting handbook by Karen Bunnell. But you know, I think again, just taking bits and pieces from everything you hear out there, there’s no right way to do this. There’s no perfect way to ensure that your relationship with your ex is going to be great and solid. It’s going to be an evolving process and something that will be in progress for a while. Lastly, my recommendation is to just really talk to friends and find people who you can trust to be a sounding board for you. I’m always consulting with my friends, even my husband about the best ways to interact with my ex, making sure that I’m being compassionate. I’m being thoughtful, and we just keep working on it. You’re doing a great job, even just by asking these questions and thinking about it. Thank you so much for opening up this conversation, Jay. Do you have a question you’d like some advice on? Shoot me an email at What are you curious about or need help with? Type it out and send it in. You can sign your name or asked to remain anonymous. I’ll answer your questions right here every Monday and Wednesday. And then end your week with an interview with an incredible guest.


NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.

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