Calm the itch that AskMe scratches.
July 25, 2016 3:08 PM   Subscribe

I spend most idle moments browsing recent Ask Metafilter questions on my phone. Whilst I have learnt some (many!) useful facts from this, I acknowledge the point raised by a loved one that this mindless scrolling is not particularly constructive or good for my thumbs. How can I "selfsoothe" without relying on a website?

I think there is something reassuring and satisfying about seeing questions find answers here. But this feels like a bit of an "empty hit", as these are frequently questions of no relevance to my life. I have taken a step towards more mindful engagement with AskMe by joining, but really would like to reduce this reliance.

At times I have decided to stay away, this results in time spent on other websites, so this is not a metafilter specific problem, although the high quality answers here are particularly satisfying.

I would be grateful for any advice on how to encourage myself to keep my hands still (or to fill them with something more constructive) and my brain calm for lengths of time from 1-20 minutes.
posted by limoncello to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Install the Kindle app on your phone, and whenever you're tempted to surf the web, click on that Kindle icon instead and make some headway on a book of your choice.
posted by delight at 3:13 PM on July 25, 2016 [12 favorites]

Practice mindfulness meditation. When you have some minutes to spare, take your attention to your breath (or whatever you choose) and meditate.
posted by penguin pie at 3:21 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. Force yourself to spend a weekend FREE of any internet or mobile phones. Preferably, in this scenario you are also TV free.
2. See what happens.
3. What do you end up doing when you don't have these things? Is it going for a walk, or some yoga stretches? Picking up a copy of the New Yorker or that book you'd been meaning to read? Tidying up your desk or room? Knitting?
4. Ideally, one of these things begins to naturally stand out as your new self-soothe.

It has to be something that works for you. That can be difficult to determine until you are left to your own (cell/internet-free) devices. But trust me, it becomes very quickly obvious.

Good luck!
posted by nightrecordings at 3:22 PM on July 25, 2016 [25 favorites]

If you have any crafty or handy or creative projects coming up or underway, you can spend idle minutes trying to figure out details and foresee potential problems and solutions.
posted by anonymisc at 3:49 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Hides under chair to say this): Pokemon Go. It's still on your phone, but you'll be out going for little walks all the time.

(Runs away before getting stoned to death.)
posted by bluesky78987 at 4:22 PM on July 25, 2016 [20 favorites]

Cross-stitch while listening to a podcast or audiobook is one of the most soothing things I have ever done. You can buy cross-stitch kits for beginners, or go to a fabric store and get a hoop, cross-stitch fabric (Aida), a needle, a couple kinds of thread and make your own design on graph paper.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 6:40 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Google DBT and self-soothing for some suggestions. I try to read AskMe from my laptop instead of my phone because yes, it is bad for my thumbs. On the other hand, the green helped me wean myself off of real-life drama by giving me examples of drama in other peoples lives and letting me offer advice, when I had useful advice. I grew up in chaos and there was always lots of drama. That was hard to give up, I discovered during my efforts to become a healthier person. The green actually helped me move away from drama in my actual life. Now I drop by often but I don't live here anymore. So before you make a complete switch, consider asking yourself if there's a reason why you spend a bunch of free time here. Maybe there isn't. In my case, I didn't realize until it was over it that the green had been like a temporary form of methadone that helped me overcome a heroin addiction. I am exaggerating, of course. But it was truly helpful even though I didn't understand at the time why I was here so much. Your mileage may vary; in fact, I hope it does!
posted by Bella Donna at 9:06 PM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

It might be a little like replacing cigarettes with heroin, but Pokemon Go is seriously helping to break my own severe Ask addiction. After not following questions much this week, I have much less urge to read it now (normally I am compelled to read back until I've caught up with all the questions). I'm reading actual books a lot more in my spare time now.

Of course, it's probably not much better for your thumbs, and unlikely to be less addictive....
posted by randomnity at 7:44 AM on July 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

From a combination of mindfulness research and experience, I suggest:

1. For a week, do not try to change your habit, just notice when you do it. Every time you pick up your phone and start typing the URL, ask yourself questions like, "What emotion am I feeling? Why do I feel like I need to do this right now? Am I avoiding something?" You might even write down the dates/times and your answers.

2. Depending on why you are doing it, come up with replacement behavior(s) that addresses the same need(s). For example, let's say the web browsing stems from anxiety: you can avoid thinking about what you should really be doing, and it's soothing. In that case, you might replace it with five deep breaths, or a visualization of something you're going to do later in the day.

3. For the following week, every time you are about to do it, stop, acknowledge the feeling, and reach for one of the replacement behaviors instead.
posted by beyond_pink at 10:43 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Read a book. Start with the classical greek philosophers.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2016

If your work/hobbies involve some sort of creative+abstract thinking, jot down ideas that you're currently working on, or might want to think about later. In a 1-20 minute break, just mentally go over it and see if there are things you can add or change about [whatever it is]. For instance, if you're a writer, you could soak in a snippet/outline of a recent draft. You're in between doing other things, so it's not like you're in "work mode" when you reread it -- but you're still reinforcing whatever you're working on, which should be familiar enough to you to be somewhat grounding.

Or, in a slightly different direction: keep a list of "things to Google" or other stuff to research that's more relevant to you. It's like having your own AskMe that you work on instead of vicariously enjoying others'. (E.g. -- definitions/origins of words & phrases that you've heard recently; how to make X thing you saw recently; how does ___ work?) Yes it involves Googling stuff, but you are doing some the work of exploring what's out there.

Don't think: "time to fill my brain with stuff". Think: "time to make connections between the threads of my mind".
posted by miniraptor at 4:31 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

good for my thumbs

You can use other digits to scroll instead of your thumbs. Just sayin'

If you are waiting somewhere with your phone, there are all sorts of productive things you could do. Learn a new language? Studying with flashcards? Something that supports the other things you are doing in your life.
posted by yohko at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2016

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