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/ Source: TODAY
By Marguerite Ward

Your relationship with your phone reveals a lot more about your life than you might think.

At least, that’s what NBC special anchor Maria Shriver found when she recently changed her phone-checking habits. In fact, it was nothing less than a "spiritual cleanse" for her.

Shriver explained how she began the challenge in August to get away from electronics and be more present with her children and friends.

“For the first couple of days, I was actually shaking, because I was feeling like, ‘Uh oh.’ I felt more alone. I felt like I didn’t know what people were doing; I felt like nobody knew what I was doing. And did anybody care about me?” she told Hoda Kotb while acting as co-host of the fourth hour of TODAY.

She realized she was alone — and that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Learning to enjoy being alone

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually really alone.’ So I was like, ‘How do I celebrate my aloneness? How do I feel whole with that?’” Shriver told Kotb.

The key was realizing that her life was more than what’s happening on her phone. She learned to focus on more real-life connections with her family, friends and people she works with.

“My world is my four kids, my friends, my work, my mission work,” she said. “I feel really good about that,” she said.

How do I celebrate my aloneness? How do I feel whole with that?

“I feel like I have friends on Instagram and Facebook, but they’re not my ‘flat-tire friends;’ they’re not going to come to help me in the middle of the night. They’re not going to sit and comfort me when I come home,” she said. “So it’s a different world, and it’s not as important as my real world.”

Now she checks her phone only two or three times a day, once in the morning (but not right when she wakes up) and then again in the evening. It’s been a spiritual transformation she says, and one that could be helpful for empty nesters struggling to find meaning after raising children.

It's an important lesson in this day and age; many children think their parents spend too much time on their phones, and experts say it can affect adults' intimate relationships and even reduce self-esteem.

“Hit pause sometimes,” Shriver recently wrote in a TODAY personal essay. “Schedule time with your loved ones and give back to your community and those less fortunate to you. Consider hitting pause in your day-to-day decisions, too.”

If you’re interested in following Shriver’s advice, try checking your phone only two or three times a day. You might be surprised at the result.