Do you sleep with your smartphone or tablet by your bedside? Do you check your email, Facebook page or Instagram the moment you wake up? Do your family members implore you to look up from your phone?
You might need a digital detox.
Constant use of email, social media and constant news feeds can be damaging to one’s health, according to several recent studies. Internet addiction disorder is now a recognised problem. Indeed, when frequent internet users turn off their devices, they undergo withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by drug users, according to a 2013 study at Swansea and Milan Universities.
But what if you simply can’t muster the personal willpower to take even a day or two away from your screens? You’re not alone — and plenty of businesses are looking to capitalise on your digital dependence. From weekend detox courses in the countryside to remote farms in the Philippines and even tech-free urban retreats, dozens of getaways have sprung up around the globe to help people kick the device habit, at least temporarily.
The unplugged weekend
Best for: those who want to stimulate the senses in a bucolic setting
Cost: £200 ($333) which includes all accommodation, food and activities.
For Kim Beckett, 28, who works as an insurance broker from Uxbridge in London, it was the realisation that she was virtually addicted to WhatsApp and other social media that prompted her to relinquish her phone and laptop and enrol in a tech-free workshop weekend in the Brecon Beacons in Wales.
Called the Unplugged Weekend, the course, which takes place in a private house in the Welsh hillside, is aimed at digitally-addicted executives.
“When guests arrive at Unplugged Weekend we have a phone handing over ceremony to begin the digital detox,” said co-founder Lucy Pearson. “Everybody sets their intention and we chat about what they hope to get out of the weekend. Then everybody… put(s) their phones in a trunk, which we lock away for the weekend.”
There are no televisions or landline phones on premises, but there are clocks and music.
That’s just the start. The programme is designed to help participants reconnect with their own thoughts by offering classes in mindfulness, meditation and even laughter therapy.