Are you addicted to your smart phone? Earlier this month, Ofcom published a report which showed that one in three adults know they spend too long on their phones, admitting that they find it difficult to disconnect. Thanks to the epidemic of internet addiction, there's been a big rise in digital detox retreats lately. These tend to be holidays abroad, or even at home in the UK, that confiscate your gadgets to force you to spend a few days internet-free.
Like fifteen million or so British adults, I myself am a self-confessed smartphone addict. So in May, I took a digital detox with the intention of cutting down my internet usage. Here's what I learned from the experience...
A Digital Detox - Disconnecting to Reconnect
I headed to Italy with a company called Time to Log Off. At a beautifully restored masseria in the Puglian countryside, I handed in my mobile and began a week long digital detox retreat. I thought it was going to drive me crazy. I was so wrong!
Over the course of the week, I felt more connected with my surroundings – and with myself – than I ever normally do. Without the constant distraction of a phone, I felt fully immersed in everything I was doing. It was the perfect way to travel to Italy, because I really felt like I actually saw Italy. I didn't just experience it from behind a phone screen.
This one is hardly surprising. According to the Ofcom report, 47% of internet users say they've missed out on sleep because of aimless phone scrolling. The brain-catching mire that is the internet can swallow up whole hours if you're not careful. On top of that, the blue light given off by phone screens is proven to suppress the production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin is the chemical that triggers sleep, making it much harder to drift off after phone-gazing.
Time to Log Off published the results of our retreat surveys, and people rated their sleep quality 8.5 out of ten on average after the digital detox, compared to an average of 4.5 before. In terms of rest and relaxation, this was without doubt one of the best summer holidays I've ever had.
I Didn't Miss My Phone
The most surprising aspect of the digital detox was that I didn't miss my phone. Not one bit. In fact, I didn't want to switch it back on at the end of the week. There was simply too much to do every day! For me, the internet is a distraction when I'm bored or nervous. Without my phone, I had to find other distractions. I read four books in a week, took cooking lessons, explored the nearby towns, and took lovely countryside walks. It was a week of complete restoration, and I came home feeling more like myself than I have in months!
Could you go without your phone for a week on a digital detox?