The Power of Switching Off

Why digital detox is on the rise in the UK

By Emily May Webber

Have you ever found yourself with the television on and your phone in the palm of your hand?

Firstly, it is likely no fault of your own – many careers depend upon you always having your finger on the pulse. For many students, the pressure of keeping up with social media and an overflowing inbox leads to feeling like you’re swimming against the tide. Rewind to a decade ago: once the working day was over, you could close the door on the outside world. But now, the constant need to connect, refresh and re-tweet never rests – and neither do you.

The term digital detox is fast becoming a trend in the U.K, as screen time is reaching an unhealthy high. The trend outlines that participants take a break from their devices, and aims at encouraging people to interact with the physical world, subsequently reducing their stress levels. The consumer market has also taken to cashing in on this trend, with many luxury retreats rolling out across the country. However, the price of logging off to the world does not come cheap. Prices for a long weekend can set you back over £500. Time To Log Off, based in Somerset, state ‘we believe technology should serve us, not enslave us’ with the emphasis on ‘balance’ taking centre stage on their program.

So how is this digital consumption affecting our wellbeing? The Telegraph reported in 2015 that young adults now spend a staggering 27 hours a week plugged into their devices, which has almost tripled from 2005. Studies show this rapid increase correlates with the drop in attention spans, and more worryingly, the rise of anxiety and mental health issues.

It is inevitable that we cannot fully escape from our online bubble. It seems you only put your device down for an hour, and are welcomed with a stream of messages, notifications and alerts upon your return; all of which are enough to combust not only your phone, but also your mind. However, setting a cut off point in the day where devices are switched off could be the key to slowing down the mind, and metaphorically closing the door on the online world.

If you are unable to fork out for a detox retreat, or are struggling to stop tapping at the keyboard, here are some ways to switch off, unwind, and boost attentiveness:

  1. Set a bounce back email: after a certain hour set an automatic email stating you are offline. This means you have acknowledged the email, and will reply within office hours.
  2. Tea: not only the drink, but also the method of boiling the kettle, and slowly sipping away can be the key to relaxing your mental activity. Choose chamomile or peppermint for that extra boost.
  3. Walk: 15 minutes outside per day. Whether that be walking to the office or University. Take time to breathe, without the guilt of not checking your phone.


Emily May Webber

Featured photo: Kyle Hoekstra

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