For years, experts in science and mental health have warned about the damaging effects of too much screen time. But how harmful are our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and televisions, and what can we do to reduce our reliance on technology in 2018?
One solution that has gained momentum is the 'digital detox holiday'. A digital detox is essentially a period where you cut yourself off from technology — no texting, emailing or social media use — with the aim to lower stress levels, take up 'real world' activities and concentrate on quality, physical socialisation.
From where to go to why they're beneficial, we explore the health advantages of the digital detox holiday and how you can get on board…
What's wrong with screen time?
In 2018, it's nearly impossible to avoid technology. Around four billion people use the internet globally, according to 2018 Global Digital reports, while other studies have reported that as many as 83% of UK adults are active on social media. But, how is this affecting our emotional and mental health and is a digital detox necessary?
A study into the impact of technology on mental health, conducted by Dr Kiki Leutner at the University College of London, discovered that screen use affected users' socialisation, concentration and sense of 'the real world'. In other experiments, researchers in the US found that only an hour of screen time a day caused an increase in unhappiness levels in adolescents, while a study by the National Institute of Mental Health noted a significant link between social media use and depression and another discovered a connection between constant phone-checking and high stress levels. What's more, screen overuse can send our brains' electrical activity into overdrive and hinder the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin; causing sleep deprivation and a less rested mind for the following day, according to scientists at Harvard Medical School.
Although technology helps us learn and communicate, overuse can apparently be harmful — which has given rise to the digital detox holiday or 'tech-free tourism'.
Digital detox holidays
In a world where being contactable is almost essential, many of us find it difficult to go 'off-grid' and detox from our Tweets, work emails, and group messages. However, the rising trend in tech-free tourism has made this simpler than ever, with a variety of beautiful locations across the UK to help inspire us to concentrate on ourselves and nature rather than phones and laptops.
But how do you organise a digital detox holiday and what should you look out for when choosing your destination? Firstly, decide how you want to keep your attention active so that you don't start craving your Facebook feed. Have you ever fancied taking up yoga or enjoy daily massages? Go to a country health spa. Think long hikes with your partner would help? Book a bed and breakfast in the Lake District. Don't get the chance of fresh sea air? Head to England's south-east coast.
If this is your first tech-free break, search for a place that specialises in digital detox holidays to make it easier. Beingout of your comfort zone means that you're less likely to fall into old habits, such as Instagramming a photo of your favourite spot. However, the best way to ensure you can remain completely free of the temptation of technology is to go to an off-grid establishment. Many hotels in the UK are off-grid, using an LPG supplier instead of a mains grid connection to provide energy to their customers and helping them detach from busy city life. By opting for accommodation in places like these, you help to reduce the risk of reaching a breaking point where you simply can't be without your favourite TV show or beloved Facebook feed anymore, as you're typically surrounded by beautiful countryside with plenty of hotel-run activities to enjoy.
Interested in detox breaks? Here are a few of the top, completely off-grid sites around the UK that you can book to cleanse your mind of digital influences:
- The Scottish Highlands: find a cottage and enjoy fishing trips and long walks.
- Brecon Beacons National Park: many glamping sites here embrace mindfulness and nature.
- Lundy Island: on the south-west coast, you're surround 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 not surprising that cutting yourself off completely is difficult. So, how do you make it easier?
If you're seriously considering a digital detox holiday, you must prepare yourself. If you know you'll be tempted, simply don't pack your phone, tablet and laptop. Or keep a phone locked away in the car for emergencies only. Before you choose your detox destination, look online to see what you can do to fill in your time and make a note of these, so you don't forget. Typically, you can do any of the following activities on a digital detox getaway:
- Arts and crafts
- Wine tasting
Digital detoxing puts you back in control of your life and gives you the chance to truly leave work behind. Apart from lowering your stress levels, enhancing mental positivity and improving your social interactions; digital detox holidays are available all over the UK — no need for expensive trips abroad to relax. Browse online today for your next tech-free break.
Article by Reese Collingwood.