Health

I Tried It: The Digital Detox

Is it really possible to unplug for a day?


Photo by Toan Trinh

I always thought I could put my phone down for a few hours if I really wanted to. But it took being assigned a story about holing up in a tiny house in the woods for me to actually do it.

I’m not alone in my tech addiction: In fact, almost half of smartphone owners consider the devices something they “can’t live without.” That’s why Harvard-born Getaway was founded: to encourage a plugged-in generation to relinquish their screens and just be. Launched in 2015 and rapidly expanding, the startup rents tech-free cabins (read: no WiFi and spotty cell service) in the wilds of New Hampshire, each complete with a kitchenette, a bathroom, a bed, a fire pit, and, yes, a cell-phone lock box.

I drove 70 miles without stopping one fall day to reach this disconnected paradise. After settling in, I did the thing I was most anxious about—I locked my precious iPhone in that box. For the next 20 hours, at least, I was determined to enjoy a tech detox.

Zen and the Art of…
By Abby Bielagus
Forget all the things you should be doing and let your mind wander and your fingers play.

Painting
Channel your inner Bob Ross with beginner painting or drawing lessons at Somerville’s Art School 99.

Flower Arranging
Yes, mindful flower arranging is a thing, and yes, it’s worth doing for its relaxation benefits. Try a workshop at the South End’s Table & Tulip.

Crafting
Make DIY wreaths, wicker baskets, and more at the Boston Center for Adult Education.

Sleek, modern, and steeped in hygge, my 160-square-foot Getaway cabin made that almost too easy, thanks to an ultra-comfy bed overlooking the wilderness from a floor-to-ceiling window. Once I was free from the shackles of Twitter notifications, I lit a candle, wrapped myself in a provided Pendleton blanket, and flipped through a booklet filled with ideas about how to pass the time. Did I really need a set of written instructions to help me relax? Yes, I did.
The guide contained tips for meditating and building a campfire, among other suggestions. I did all of it and then some, because time passes slowly when your brain isn’t running at a mile a minute. I breezed through a book—a real, paper book, not one on my Kindle—and made s’mores, while instinctively reaching for my phone, stored a few feet away, only a handful of times.

When it was all over, I removed my phone from the box, convinced that I didn’t need it after all…until I found myself Instagramming that perfectly tousled bed.

Read more about how you can find a little more serenity in these troubled times.