Thanks to iPhones, iPads, smartphones and tablets we are always switched on. Outside working hours we find ourselves keeping tabs on emails, logging on at home and sending the odd email reply at the weekend.
Then there is social media.
Ever changing, constantly updating and eating up all of our data and attention. It amplifies some of our best and worst habits. I bet you’ve sat in a cafe, restaurant or bar with friends, ‘socialising’, only to look around the table and realise everyone is looking at their phone, and no one is making conversation. Is it rude? I’m not sure, it honestly feels more like human nature now.
We know social media is linked to lower productivity levels at work, it can effect our sleep patterns and has even been linked to depression in teenagers. The world we see on screen is not always true, and whether you love it or loath it, it’s good to unplug. 2016 is the year to take a ‘digital detox’.
If you’ve got good self control, this can be as simple as finding a remote location with little to no mobile signal or wifi, and shutting yourself away for a few days.
In Scotland, Monachyle Mhor, a luxury boutique hotel situated on the shores of Loch Voil in Perthshire, is the perfect location.
No phone signal, no wifi and miles of rolling hills to explore, this gorgeous 18th century farmhouse is completely idyllic. It is a family run business, and attention to detail is everything. The rooms are minimalist yet quirky, the bar is cute and very well stocked, and the food is to die for.
Whether you are sitting in their front garden with your afternoon tea and homemade scone, exploring the stunning Perthshire countryside or enjoying a nightcap after an incredible meal, I can promise you won’t miss your phone. Switch it off the moment you arrive, or even better, don’t take it with you at all. Mid week bed & breakfast rates from £179.
For a day retreat, you won’t find a more relaxed vibe than at a spa. Stobo Castle in Peebles has a ‘no phones policy’ in the spa area. The signal is not great throughout the rest of the hotel, making it an ideal location for a day offline. The last thing you want is to completely destress after one of their fabulous Neom massages, only to pop online and see something that makes your blood boil. Plus, the drive from Edinburgh down through the Borders is too lovely to miss if you are sitting in the passenger seat whatsapp-ing. Spa days are available from £99 per person.
If you think you need a little more encouragement to stay offline, opt for a more structured retreat. Last year, Champneys Health Spa launched an ‘Unplug Retreat’ at their Tring Spa.
Working with LA brand ‘Unplug Meditation’, lifestyle coach Camilla Sacre-Dallerup was in residence for a two night specialist retreat, which included full spa access, three different types of classes led by Camilla including meditation, hypnosis and coaching, plus the chance to have one-to-one coaching. Light, healthy spa lunches and evening dinners included, and walks around the grounds are encourage. The price tag? £499 per person.
For more ideas take a look at Digital Detox Holidays. More of search engine than a booking site, they have done all the ground work for you, so you don’t need to spend hours online researching – a good start to trying to unplug. You can filter holidays by continent, activity or detox type. Some of the places listed run specific ‘digital detox’ packages where you’ll be asked to surrender all technology items on arrival, others simply promote wellness and mindfulness, encouraging you to relax and unwind. I like the look of ‘Denis Private Island‘ in the Seychelles, described as ‘the perfect location for those seeking true escapism’. Or closer to home, ‘Slow Life in Umbria‘ – just the name alone tells you they know how to unwind there.
The Healthy Holiday Company are in the same game, and also have a useful ‘ideas by month’ calendar. With these guys you can call to speak with one of their travel experts to organise your trip, plus they have a full page of mini bios about their ‘health experts’. This page lists people from the world of sport, yoga and nutrition, that they work with, including Amelia Freer author of the successful lifestyle book, COOK. NOURISH. GLOW.
Whether it’s a spa day, or a week long, intense social media black out at some far flung wellness retreat, take time to unplug. The benefits will be huge. Look at the view with your eyes and not through your favourite instagram filter. Wait until you see your friends to tell them about your incredibly romantic mini break, or how delicious your swanky dinner was. For just a little while, forget about notifications and switch off. It will do you the world of good.