Could You Do A Digital Detox?

BY BALANCE EDITORIAL TEAM | TEGAN HEDLEY
Jul 02, 2019
Could You Do A Digital Detox?
How often do you think you check your phone? Spoiler: it’s probably more than you'd guess. In fact, according to research from telecoms regulator Ofcom, the average Brit checks their phone every 12 minutes, clocking up approximately 80 checks a day. It's no surprise then that we find ourselves frazzled, always-connected and never-switched-off.

But with the blame for rising levels of stress and anxiety in both adults and adolescents often laid at the feet (or, in the hands) of our smartphones and social media, there’s been a sharp rise in the number of millennials choosing to switch off, quite literally. While some choose to do this at home, there's also been a boom in the number of holidays based around this concept. The 2000s may have been all about holiday hedonism – a standard two weeks per year of eating too much, drinking too much and getting slightly burned – but it's digital detox that we're seeking now. 

Even those most dependent on the power of social media have been advocating taking time away from the screens. In June 2019, fitness influencer and Balance ambassador Healthy Chef Steph raved about the power of a week away from her phone: “It was bliss!” she enthused – ironically, on Instagram – adding: “I’m so unbelievably grateful for the opportunities I’ve had through my work, but it was becoming quite taxing on my mental health and I just needed to take a proper break. While I was away, I was the calmest I’ve been in months.”

So, how does the digital detox work? And will it really have an impact?




Essentially, a digital detox requires switching off from your phone, your laptop, your emails and anything else that bleeps or buzzes, for a specified period of time. How long for is up to you. Although there has been debate around the effectiveness of digital detoxes as a whole, there is evidence that aspects of them can certainly be productive. For example, a 2016 study of over 1000 individuals by Danish researchers concluded that: “taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive” (1). 

So, what can you expect from a digital detox holiday? Among the most exciting and extreme is perhaps Black Tomato’s 'Get Lost' programme, which describes itself as: “The ultimate experience for helping people to disconnect, engage in the moment and push themselves to achieve a truly wonderful sense of satisfaction.” Participants choose only the style of their trip – polar, jungle, desert, mountain or costal – and are subsequently dropped into the middle of an undisclosed, unknown location with only the kit they’ll need to camp and to find their way to an agreed point. 





It doesn't have to be quite so extreme. Some hotels are getting in on the act by rewarding guests for leaving their phone in a locked box at reception and taking part in activities instead. Others offer more all-encompassing detox retreats, usually accompanied by yoga classes and wellness activities. However, if you really want to let go, travel to the Norweigan island of Sommar√ły; you might still be allowed your phone - although we recommend ditching it - but thanks to 24 hour daylight during the summer months, they’re currently campaigning to get rid of the concept of time altogether.

On a self-catering basis, you’ll find that most of the UK is now well-connected in terms of mobile coverage, but there are still spots where you can enjoy that sense of disconnection. A campervan road trip to the Isle of Skye or the North Coast 500, which hugs Scotland’s spectacular north coast is just one example; it's characterised by miles of wild coastline, long stretches of not seeing another soul and gloriously patchy 4G coverage.





A digital detox doesn't have to be done on holiday, of course; if you've got the willpower, there's no reason you can't delete your apps and switch off your device at home. If you need slightly more of a helping hand 
– and you can resist the allure of making your own foodporn - there are an increasing number of pubs and restaurants in the UK in which mobile phone use is a no-no, such as Dalston’s Angelina. Team that with an afternoon in a park and a good old-fashioned paperback, and you've instantly got yourself a solid eight phone-free hours. 

Challenge accepted? 


(1) Tromholt M1. The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2016 Nov;19(11):661-666.

 
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