The average person now checks their phone 85 times a day, according to research published in the scientific journal Plos One. This adds up to a total of five hours: a third of the time that we are typically awake.

constantly glued to our smartphone screens, along with many of us
spending our working day at a computer, is having a negative effect on
our health and wellbeing, diminishing concentration levels and
disrupting sleep. Rather worryingly, according to a report published in Time
magazine, we now have a lower concentration span than a goldfish,
averaging between eight and 12 seconds. Perhaps it's because we are so
exhausted: the artificial blue light emitted by our laptops, tablets and
phones suppresses the hormone melatonin, which aids sleep by up to 22
per cent.

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in Whatsapp group chats, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed,
updating Instagram or reading your emails may seem harmless, but we all
know the feeling of dependence on our mobiles; sometimes the constant
diversion to a screen can become a compulsion. According to a report by
Ofcom, a third of us (34 per cent) are well aware of our addiction to
technology and have actively sought a digital detox.

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how do we switch off? With so much of our lives led online it can be
tough to go entirely cold turkey, but changing your habits or taking
breaks can make all the difference. Here are our tips for tuning out and
reconnecting with the real world.

Try a digital-detox retreat

may seem like bliss to be checking in with the office or scrolling
through your Instagram feed from a sunlounger, but are you really on
holiday if you're still so connected to your daily life at home? To
properly check out, try booking into a specialist digital-detox holiday.
was founded by Tanya Goodin, a digital entrepreneur who saw the effects
that a screen-dominated life was having on her own health. Its retreats
ban all technology of this kind, replacing it with mindfulness
workshops, yoga, hiking, kite-flying and storytelling. They also serve
raw food and prohibit alcohol so you'll return completely 'reset'.

The next retreat will be in Somerset from 22 to 25 September and the following in Puglia from 21 to 27 May 2017. Visit the website for more information.

Go off the grid

you'd prefer more of an adventure than a wellness retreat, then simply
fly under the radar. At the Jongomero camp in the Ruaha National Park in
Tanzania, there is absolutely no WiFi or phone signal: a rarity in
today's world. Pack your phone away at the beginning of the week (don't
forget that cameras take photos, too) and enjoy a game walk or drive
among roaming elephants along the banks of the Jongomero River before
relaxing back at camp, a luxurious collection of thatch-roofed canvas

Visit the website for more information.

Disable your social media

no denying that social media is the quickest course to distraction:
its use hugely lengthens your time online. According to Freedom
– an app that blocks assigned mailboxes, social media and websites on
your phone or computer – every time you check your email, a social
feed or respond to a notification, your mind requires 23 minutes of
refocussing to get back on a task. With this app you can set up a block
for up to eight hours, ensuring you dedicate yourself to the matter at
hand and get away from your screen as soon as possible.

Realign your mind

has been made of the advantages of meditation and mindfulness over
recent years. The importance of taking time out to re-centre yourself
seems even more important given the increasingly frenetic pace of life
and dependence on connectivity. If you're spending the day at your
computer, take regular intervals to simply sit and relax or to go for a
walk. If you really can't leave your desk, try logging on to Do Nothing for 2 Minutes.
The webpage asks you to concentrate on a calming seascape, and if  move
your mouse or touch your keyboard, the timer restarts. It won't solve
the problem of having your eyes glued to a screen, but it is more
useful than rapidly clicking your mouse when trying to work. We say
close your eyes and simply listen to the sound of the waves.

Set strict ground rules

it's down to you if you wish to cut down your screen time. Invest in a
traditional alarm clock and remove your phone from your room at night to
avoid nighttime or early-morning scrolling. Impose a tech ban on parts
of your day; mute your Whatsapp conversations and catch up on them at an
assigned time, turn off your email alerts and respond in batches at
less-frequent intervals; remember that not much happens while you're
away from social media. R
ead more, go for long walks, take up a new hobby; turn going cold turkey to your advantage and you'll soon feel the benefits.


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