Battling Smartphone Addiction


This topic has been on my mind a lot today as well as on and off over the course of several years. I’m part luddite, so it’s not uncommon for me to have rash moments of “chuck all the technology” style thinking from time to time. Today I read a great article on Wired’s website titled, “How I Got My Attention Back” which reminded me of exactly why I sometimes get fed up with my cell phone addiction. The article goes in-depth into one individual’s frustrations with our incessant connection to phones and the internet, etc., and takes the reader through his experience going offline for a month.

So the conundrum is, how do we lessen our dependence (or obsession) with smartphones while still being realistic and true to our modern age in which they are so ubiquitous? We can’t all simply go offline for a month while we stay at an artist’s community like the author of the article. Both from that article and from discussion with a friend of mine, I’ve discovered several small ways to combat the constant distraction of the smartphone.

The method which was relayed to me by a friend was this- he told me about an article he read in which a former design ethicist from Google compared technological design to that of a slot machine – notifications from apps provide a “reward” type stimulus to us as users, which is very much like gambling. If we check it frequently we may be rewarded. And this same person suggests one way to lessen this addiction is by making the screen grayscale. The idea is that if your phone is black and white, many of your apps will seem less stimulating and appealing. I’ve tried it all day today and I have to attest that it has made a difference.

From the aforementioned article, the author acknowledges the importance of technology and makes a compromise that most of us could uphold (at least with our smartphones). The deal is this: no phones right before bed and through the following day until after lunchtime. I think the main reason for this time frame is due to the importance of our waking ritual. The way you wake up can determine how the rest of your day will go. This quote from the article I found particularly poignant:

“There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between a day that begins with a little exercise, a book, meditation, a good meal, a thoughtful walk, and the start of a day that begins with a smartphone in bed.”

Another, albeit more curious way to possibly put cell phone addiction to rest is an idea dreamt up by designer Klemens Schillinger. It’s a “substitute phone” with tactile, physical parts that move and function basically as a fidget spinner for adults. Take a look at them here. They’re not readily available yet, but could this be where we’re headed?

My goal is to try to implement these small ways of fighting smartphone addiction and see if I’m more aware of the world around me. That, and similar to the original Luddites destroying weaving machinery, maybe I’ll delete Instagram while I’m at it, too.

Everyday Essential Oils

There is nothing new about using essential oils to help heal the mind and body. The use of essential oils spans back throughout history for medicinal purposes. However, it fell out of style for a number of years and is now making a big comeback. In an age when overmedication is common, essential oils offer a safe, homeopathic method of healing. Here are some uses for commonly found essential oils:

Lavender: One of the most readily available essential oils, lavender naturally calms and relaxes making it a great aid for sleep or to help ease anxiety. It has some antiseptic properties, so it can be applied to clean cuts and bruises as a healing agent. It can be rubbed on sore muscles to help alleviate soreness and it also can help rejuvenate your hair.

Tea Tree: If you have trouble with acne, tea tree oil is an excellent way to calm it. Tea tree oil also has anti-fungal properties and can help treat things like ringworm and athlete’s foot. It can be used on cuts, bruises, and can help calm razor burn. Always dilute tea tree oil before applying!

Chammomile: Most commonly found in tea, chammomile has a soothing effect. In essential oil form, a few drops can be added to a bath or to your pillowcase to help you relax before bed.

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil is a great aid for those who are suffering from congestion. A drop or two can be added to a drink to help loosen a cough and calm the throat and sinuses. It can also be used in a diffuser to help these symptoms. This is another essential oil which should always be diluted before use.

The Benefits of Witch Hazel

Witch hazel, a topical astringent that is made from the leaves, barks and twigs of the plant Hamamelis viginiana, may not be something that you have heard of. However, for something that has a spooky name, you’d be surprised to find that it serves many purposes that you’d find handy to have at home.


  • Witch Hazel can be used to remove oil from the skin and shrinking those pores, giving you bright and fresh skin.


Bruises and blemishes

  • Witch hazel has been known to treat blemishes by brightening the skin and bruises by reducing inflammation and discoloration.


Bleeding and cuts

  • Applying witch hazel to minor cuts and scrapes helps stop bleeding as well as acts as a disinfectant.



  • A great follow up for shaving, witch hazel stops bleeding from small cuts you may get from your razor as well as helping prevent razor burn.



  • With these warm Florida days, this may be one of the most helpful tips. Adding a bit of witch hazel to Aloe Vera gel can help your skin heal as well as prevent your skin from pealing afterwards.


Stings and bug bites

  • Rubbing a bit of witch hazel to bug bites or rashes from poison ivy helps ease pain and itching, perfect for those hikes and bike rides in the wooded areas of Gainesville.

Find more uses for Witch Hazel here.

Ways to save your wallet and your health at the grocery store

Groceries are low and it’s time to head to the market to fill up on supplies. Though getting some things at the store already made may seem like a convenience, you can save money and even be healthier by avoiding certain things on the grocery store shelves.

  • Salad dressing

The whole point of eating salads is to eat healthy, but drowning your salad in store bought dressing is almost no better than just going to a fast food joint and getting yourself a burger. You can easily make your own dressing at home that are tasty and good for you.

  • Water bottles

Buying water bottles over and over each month are bad not just for your wallet, but for the environment too. Plus, who wants to carry all that weight from the cart to the car to your apartment/home! Save time and money, by investing in a reusable water bottle or a water purifier for your sink.

  • Name brands

There are some name brands that we all prefer and can really see a difference in, but certain things, like name brand spices are really just a rip off in disguise. Getting the off brand taste just as good while saving you a bit of cash.

  • Bottled teas

Teas seem like a healthy drink, and they are, if you make it yourself. However, many store brought bottled teas are filled with so much sugar that drinking them is worse than just drinking a soda. Buy tea packets and make tea yourself at home to have the pleasure of tea without all that added, unnecessary sugar.


Teas to calm your nerves

With the holiday season coming up, you may be getting a sense of anxiety over the idea of planning that huge Thanksgiving dinner and getting all the right presents for your loved ones this Christmas.  A big mug of soothing tea may be just the trick after a long day of sending out Thanksgiving invites and holiday shopping. There are several teas that have been shown to naturally calm you that you may want to try out to get that perfect night of rest.

Kava tea

Kava is a natural, herbal tea that is very well researched and proven to fight anxiety and induce a sense of calm over you.  However, kava teas brought in your regular grocery stores will not be strong enough to combat anxiety, so check out any tea shops around you to see if they sell pure kava herbal tea.  Be sure to combine the tea with something that has fat in it, like milk and also do not drink kava if you have liver problems.

 Passionflower tea

Passionflower tea is like kava, but not nearly as strong.  It is shown to be very relaxing when taken in the right dose. However, since “dosing” is not quite well known, it is unsure if store bought teas will be potent enough.  Therefore, buy passionflower extract and put in a few drops in some warm water. Start with small amounts to see what works best with you.

Valerian root tea

Valerian root tea is not designed specially for anxiety, but it is very well known for the calming effect it has.  Since it can be pretty potent, drink it with caution and for your first time, try it at night before bed to see just how fast it makes you sleepy.

The pros of Aloe Vera Water

Many people know that aloe is great for treating burns, but lately aloe has been making an appearance in the stores as more than a soothing lotion… you can purchase aloe vera water and give it a try as a delicious drink. With components like vitamin A, C, and E, it is not a question that aloe vera water is good for you.  It seems to work for upset stomachs, digestive issues, fevers, and even as just a quick pick me up on a hot day.  The next time you are at your grocery store, check out the aloe vera water and see if it is something that might work for you.

Quit Smoking Class

Be good to your health and keep more money in your wallet by acquiring the tools to quit smoking and all tobacco related products. By learning what triggers you to smoke, dip or chew, you will be able to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Free nicotine patches, lozenges and/or gum are available while supplies last. The two-hour seminar offered by the Alachua County Health Department also offers follow-up support. Friends and family will applaud your efforts and success. Admission: Free When: Wednesday, November 20 Time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.   Where: Alachua County Health Department – 224 SE 24th Street – Gainesville 32641

Register: 866- 341-2730   More information – call: 352 389-9522

Union Street Farmers Market


Union Street Farmers Market

Let it never be said that folks in Gainesville don’t appreciate good food.  They also appreciate knowing where their food comes from, which is one reason I think there is such an abundance of fantastic farmers markets nearby.  Did you know that in Alachua County there is a farmers market 6 days of the week?  One of my favorite markets is the Union Street Farmers Market that is in downtown Gainesville every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m.  It is quite convenient because it is right across the street from my office, but I also love that it takes place in the afternoon, so you don’t have to wake up early to get all the good deals and tasty treats.

Downtown Farmers Market Booth

There are booths from farms all over Alachua County and nearby towns in Florida.  Everything is so fresh and delicious that most of the time the produce you buy was harvested that very day.  You can’t get more ‘farm fresh’ than that and with prices that are better than the grocery store, it really makes the effort of going to the farmers market worth it.  Most weeks you’ll find in season vegetables and other goodies like local honey.

Local Florida Honey

Then there are the extra perks like finding homemade bread and sweets, ginger beer or even jewelry and candles at the market.  Most weeks there are performances going on at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza stage while the market is open, too.

Here are a few tips to make your visit to the Union Street Farmers Market extra fun.  Bring cash, some vendors will accept debit or credit cards but most everyone takes good, old fashioned cash only.  If you have reusable bags, you might want to bring those as well.  Most vendors have bags, but it makes carrying your treasures home easier if you have your own bag.  Take your time walking through the market so you don’t miss anything. You’ll also want to try samples of goods that most vendors have out on their tables to try.  A list of current market vendors is posted o

nline, so you can get a sneak peek at what will be offered when you visit.  We post our weekly favorites on our Farmers Market board on Pinterest, which is a great way to see what’s at the market, too.

After you’re done shopping at the market you can make a night of it in Downtown Gainesville. There are a lot of great restaurants and pubs within walking distance for dinner or dessert.

Union Street Farmers Market

— Anna Mikell, VisitGainesville