The benefits we all enjoy from technology are truly immense. Computers and the web have made the world a smaller, more accessible and connected place, putting incredible knowledge, efficiency and convenience right at our fingertips.
Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, too much of a good thing can also have negative consequences and this is certainly true of technology. You might not be aware of this but the overuse of technology and connected devices is associated with several significant health issues, such as weight gain, anxiety, increased stress, sleep disorders and low self-esteem.
Being constantly connected to our lives and that of the people around us impairs our ability to switch off from our daily stresses and give our brains the rest they deserve.
Though on the face of it, it might seem convenient to be able to access our email from the palm of our hand, wherever we are on the planet, it is also somewhat stressful to always be on call, ready to respond to the latest development.
Studies have actually shown that people who are able to completely shut off from work at the weekends fare better, and are more productive in the working week than their colleagues who remain constantly glued to their laptop, tablet or smartphone.
It’s not just about being on call to respond to work related issues either. Though social media has revolutionised the way we connect with each other, it has also fostered the very real and very modern psychological phenomenon of FOMO or fear of missing out, which leads to individuals experiencing anxiety if they are unable to check their Facebook or Twitter feed for any significant periods of time, as well as feelings of inadequacy in the face of a constant bombardment of photos of friends and acquaintances seemingly enjoying the time of their lives.
So what’s the solution? Well, in the short term there are measures you can take right now to limit the effects that overusing technology might be having on your life. You can start by just switching off.
A number of tech journos and bloggers have begun to proclaim the benefits of “unplugging” over the past few years. Some people simply allocate one tech free day a week, usually at the weekends, while others might go as far as temporarily suspending social media accounts.
In turn, it is a good idea to fill this free time with activities that offer something completely different from staring at screens. A great example might be taking a pleasant walk in green and natural surroundings. In fact, studies have shown that this kind of activity actually boosts brain function and performance, so if you think sifting through all those work emails is a more fruitful option, think again!
Some towns and cities have taken steps to assist their citizens in enjoying the benefits of escaping from tech. In Amsterdam there are benches that deliberately block WI-FI, while a restaurant in LA offers customers a 5% discount if they agree to hand over their phone when they walk in.
When it comes to technology free travel, our holiday time becomes all the more relevant. This is because holidays by their very nature are meant to be relaxing and provide an escape from the stresses of daily life.
Moreover, travel is amazing and unique in how it broadens our horizons. If you’re spending all your time trying to tweet or upload what you’re doing to Facebook, than you are spending less time actually being immersed in the activities themselves.
For those of you who would love to go tech free on your next holiday but know you lack the self-discipline to stop yourself reaching for that smartphone – there are more extreme measures you can take.
Check out these holidays below, which will help you learn how to leave technology behind, enabling you to experience the benefits of technology free holidays and recharge your batteries, while your devices stay at home recharging theirs!
Open from April to October, Skiary Lodge, which is located on the shores of Loch Hourn in the Scottish Highlands, is a former fisherman's cottage, which has been turned into a three-bedroom guesthouse.
This beautiful wilderness retreat has no electricity or mobile signal but is extremely cosy and offers great opportunities for walking, climbing, swimming and seal-watching.
Chikoko Tree Camp located in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia is a fantastic safari camp and is particularly renowned for spotting leopards. Here you will find no electricity or generators and a very limited phone signal.
You will also experience beautiful wildlife, delicious food cooked in authentic hole-in-the-ground ovens and ice-cold beers and hammocks on demand. There are fantastic opportunities for walking and mountain biking with the team of excellent guides.
Petit St Vincent is a beautiful private island resort between St Vincent and Grenada with a truly rustic feel. Set in tropical woodland, it features 22 cottages, two miles of white sandy beaches and a hillside Balinese spa.
There is no Internet in any of the cottages but plenty of opportunities for water sports, tennis and yoga, as well as a purpose built woodlands fitness trail.
Camp Grounded is a technology-free summer camp for adults. It’s based at Camp Mendocino, California, within 2000 acres of redwood forest. Guests need to check all phones, laptops and tablets at the door, and instead enjoy field games, arts and crafts and yoga to keep everyone busy and relaxed!