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Digital Fasting: Why You Should Go Device-Free on Your Next Holiday

Word this summer of the introduction of the world’s first phone-free tourist resort island in Finland highlighted a growing holiday trend: digital fasting. 
 
You read that right. Wellness travel has offered vacationers opportunities to undertake juice and other fasts on retreat trips to benefit their physical health.
 
Now, with growing awareness of the benefits of unplugging from our devices, we could be seeing more opportunities for digital fasting on our vacations.
 
“We encourage visitors to put their phones away voluntarily and to focus their senses on nature rather than on their phones. This is a great initiative that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations, too,” Joel Heino, Manager, Outdoor Recreation and Visitor Management at Parks & Wildlife Finland, says.
 
“People are not meant to be glued to screens all the time. Even a short digital fast can be useful and improve our well-being and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression”, Terhi Mustonen, psychologist and Program Manager of the Limitless Gaming and Limitless Social Media programmes at Finland’s Sosped Foundation, says.
 
 
In addition to engaging with nature surrounding you, in the case of Finland’s phone-free Ulko-Tammio island (pictured), “Switching off your phone, exploring nature and meeting people face to face are bound to boost your mood and well-being. We spend countless hours scrolling our social media feeds, so taking a short break from them means you have more time for new experiences. I’d like to see more initiatives like this that promote digital fasting”, Sari Castrén, psychologist and Research Manager at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, says.
 
It might be difficult to unplug from your device on a holiday where you need your navigating app all the time, or a (genuine!) need to stay connected to the office or family via email or text or video messaging.
 
But, if you are able to get yourself where you’re going then turn off your phone and park it (lock it in your room safe!), experts suggest you could benefit from a digital fast on your holiday:
 
  • Enhanced mindfulness and presence leading to richer, more meaningful experiences;
  • Stress reduction by disconnecting from the constant interruption of work emails and app notifications;
  • Improved relationships by devoting full attention and gaining closer connections to your loved ones;
  • Better sleep by reducing your exposure to blue (screen) light especially at night, which can interfere with circadian rhythms and melatonin production;
  • Increased awareness and appreciation of your surroundings, especially gaining benefits from the proven benefits of immersion in nature like “forest bathing;”
  • Boosted self-esteem when you’re freed from inescapable comparisons to others on social media;
  • Boosted creativity with more time and mental space for reflection and creative thinking;
  • Development of new skills and hobbies and enhanced in-person communication skills as people are more likely to try new activities when mobile phones are taken out of the equation;
  • Increased productivity after your digital fasting vacation as a result of your refreshing, rejuvenating break; and even
  • Better memories of your holiday as you were present and actively engaged with your experiences, not simply recording them or living through your phone.
 
Start Your Trip!
 
Images: Phone-Free Island courtesy of Visit KotkaHamina, copyright Annika Ruohonen
 
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