Scientific and mental health experts have been warning for quite some time about the damaging effects of spending too much time in front of a screen. So are our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions really harming us that much? And how can we reduce our reliance on technology in 2018?
One of the most highly thought of remedies is the ‘digital detox holiday’. A digital detox is basically a period of time during which you deprive yourself of technology. So no texting, emailing or social media use. And the goal is to bring down your stress levels, start doing ‘real world’ stuff and focus much more on spending quality time on actual physical socialising.
From where to go to why they’re beneficial, let’s explore the health advantages of the digital detox holiday and how you can get on board
So what’s the problem with screen time?
In 2018, it’s pretty near impossible to get away from technology. About four billion people use the internet globally, according to 2018 Global Digital report. Some studies have shown that as many as 83% of UK adults are active on social media. That’s a huge number, isn’t it?
The question is this how much this affects affecting the emotional and mental health of these millions of people. And is a digital detox really necessary?
Dr Kiki Leutner at the University College of London recently conducted a study into the impact of technology on mental health. One of its conclusions was that that screen use affected users’ socialisation, concentration and, critically, their sense of ‘the real world’. In other experiments, researchers in the US found that just an hour of screen time a day caused an increase in unhappiness levels in adolescents. Equally, a study by the National Institute of Mental Health noted a major link between social media use and depression. Another discovered a link between constant phone-checking and high-stress levels.
Believe it or not, overusing screens can send our brains’ electrical activity into overdrive and hinder melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. The effects are really concerning, namely sleep deprivation and a less rested mind for the following day, according to scientists at Harvard Medical School.
Despite technology helping us to learn and communicate, overuse can apparently be harmful. And our knowledge and experience of this have in turn given rise to the digital detox holiday, or ‘tech-free tourism’.
Digital detox holidays
We know that we live in a world where being constantly contactable is almost essential. And many of us find it difficult to get ‘off-grid’ and detox from our Tweets, work emails, and group messages. But the rising trend in tech-free tourism has made detoxing easier than ever. This beautiful island we call the UK has a variety of beautiful locations to help inspire us to focus on ourselves and nature rather than our devices. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, either.
But how do you organise a digital detox holiday and what should you look out for when choosing your destination? First up, decide how you want to keep yourself entertained so that you don’t start craving your Twitter feed. For example, have you ever fancied taking up yoga or do you enjoy daily massages? Go to a country health spa. Would some long hikes with your partner help? Maybe book yourself a bed and breakfast in the Lake District. Or if you don’t often get the chance to breathe in some fresh sea air, head to England’s gorgeous south-east coast.
If this is your first tech-free break, look for a place that specialises in digital detox holiday. This will make things easier. And out of your comfort zone means that you’re less likely to fall into old habits. Like Instagramming a photo of your favourite spot.
However, the best way to make sure you stay completely technology-free is to go to a place that totally off the grid. Many hotels in the UK are off-grid. Basically, they use an LPG supplier instead of a mains grid connection to provide energy to their customers and help them detach from hectic city life.
By choosing a place like this you’re really reducing the risk of reaching a breaking point where you just can’t stand missing your favourite TV show or beloved Facebook page. And if you book a place with gorgeous surroundings and some good local activities, all the better.
So has all this whetted your appetite for a good detox break? Here are a few of the top, completely off-grid sites around the UK that you can book to cleanse your mind of digital overload:
- The Scottish Highlands: find a cottage and enjoy fishing trips and long walks.
- Brecon Beacons National Park: loads of glamping sites here embrace mindfulness and nature.
- Lundy Island: on the south-west coast, you’re surrounded by water to feel truly disconnected.
- Saddell: a small Scottish village with secluded cottages and lodges to rent.
- Northumberland National Park: here, you can rent a tipi or yurt in tranquil woodlands.
- Herm Island: The White House Hotel encourages yoga and star-gazing — it’s also free of TVs!
How to enjoy your stay
According to a study into screen-use time published in The Guardian, a typical user checks their smartphone 39 times every 24 hours. With reports claiming that the average adult spends nearly six hours a day engaging in digital media, it’s hardly surprising that completely cutting yourself off is complicated.
But the question is, how on earth do you make detoxing easier to achieve?
If you’re seriously thinking of taking a digital detox holiday, you need to be prepared. If you know you’re going to be tempted, simply don’t pack your phone, tablet or laptop. Or your smartwatch, your gaming device, the list goes on and on! Alternatively, have a phone locked away in the car for emergencies only.
Before you select your detox destination, look online and check out what you can do to keep yourself occupied. And be sure to make notes, so you don’t forget. There are loads of things you can do during a digital detox getaway:
- Arts and crafts.
- Wine tasting.
Digital detoxing can put you back in control of your life and gives you the opportunity to completely leave work at the back of your mind. Aside from lowering your stress levels, enhancing mental positivity and improving your social interaction, digital detox holidays are available all over the UK. There really is no need for a pricey trip abroad if you’re looking to relax. Get online today and browse around for your next (much needed!) tech-free break!