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Unwind and digitally detox for health and wellness

March 15, 2018

How has our health and wellness been impacted by mobile devices?

Many of us in Singapore are connected to our mobile devices 7 days a week.

The constant need to check our smartphones for messages or news is a habit we have formed and a lifestyle feature that we demand. However, there are a range of unpleasant  side effects that accompany the ubiquity of mobile communication and instant access. These can range from insomnia, an inability to focus on completing a task, eye strain and even social anxiety, as we focus more on maintaining relationships via remote digital contact. Our emotional health may further suffer – when there is a dependence on digital validation through long hours on social media, and less on face to face interaction.

According to one survey some 50% of adults occasionally try to reduce reliance on mobile devices, however these attempts are mostly futile. Over one quarter of adults surveyed now believe they are addicted to their phone.

Can we disconnect?

A periodic disconnection from our busy wired up lives could be well worthwhile for our health and wellness. Recognizing and controlling addictive behaviour should be a feature of healthier smartphone use. A new Phone-Free Analog phenomenon involves the concept of visiting places where a condition of entry is not to take your mobile device. Some hospitality sectors have responded to a growing trend among holidaymakers that wish to be untethered from their smart phones and be a Phone-Free Analog Destination. The objective is to receive a digital detox and total cut off from wired-up connectivity.

What is a Phone-Free Analog Destination?

In choosing a Phone-Free Analog destination this could be a short stay at a Hotel that stipulates a smartphone free environment – or where digital connectivity is simply unavailable (i.e an open country or wilderness travel destination). If traveling overseas there are countless remote destinations where wireless connectivity is inaccessible. There are also a growing number of international destinations with Guest Houses and Hotels that offer specialized digital retreats. Those countries include Australia, Ireland, the U.S, Germany and France that have seized the opportunity to provide a Phone-Free Analog environment. The famous Five Star Westin Paris-Vendome invites guests to deposit their mobile devices in a safe on arrival and are serious about the digital detox package they offer!

Can Digital Detoxification improve health and wellbeing?

To spend some time in places where digital connectivity is unavailable can have many remedial benefits to our physical and emotional health.  For example, the absence of a mobile device can help restore a natural posture and remove that hunched over look. The light emitting from smartphone screens supresses the production of melatonin. Following a sustained period of not checking the screen sleeping patterns can be improved, as this hormone regulates our internal body clock. In addition, melatonin has antioxidant effects and strengthens the immune system. Constantly checking the phone can also cause stress and increase our production of Adrenaline, a hormone that works to keep us alert. A preoccupation with late night smart phone use contributes to poor sleep.

Are there Phone-Free Analog places in Singapore

Locally, McDonalds in Singapore have been trialling mobile phone lockers in an East Coast outlet. This enables diners to lock away their phones and be undisturbed while enjoying their meal. The arrangement is intended to foster improved quality time in families and relationships.

The Mandarin Oriental in Singapore offers a Digital Wellness Retreat. On arrival guests must ‘surrender their phones’ (written note taking however, is permitted).

Hopefully, these trends will continue!

References
De-Sola Gutiérrez, José, Fernando Rodríguez de Fonseca, and Gabriel Rubio. 2016. “Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review.” Frontiers in Psychiatry / Frontiers Research Foundation 7 (October): 175.
Findings:, Key. n.d. “To: Common Sense Media Fr: Lake Research Partners Re: Initial Findings from Survey Date: March 201.” http://www.lakeresearch.com/images/Press_Releases/memo.CommonSenseMedia.20160406.pdf.