• Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Why wifi-free ‘hotspots’ are new holiday heaven for Britons

New holiday trend has been backed by doctors who have warned that excessive screen time can hamper sleep

India and Sri Lanka are popular destinations due to their religious and spiritual significance

By: Nadeem Badshah

Thousands of Britons are travelling to remote locations in India and Sri Lanka for a “digital detox”, research found.

Sinharaja Rainforest in southwest Sri Lanka and the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand. which is popular with hikers, have been named as among the most popular hotspots for people aiming to slash their screen time and break mobile phone habits.

LEAD Digital detox March INSET Dr Chandra Kanneganti
Dr Chandra Kanneganti

Luxury cruise company Panache Cruises reported an increase in demand from customers  seeking to escape to locations beyond the reach of a phone signal and the internet. And the new holiday trend has been backed by doctors who have warned that excessive screen time can hamper sleep, lead to mental health problems and muscle aches.

Dr Chandra Kanneganti, a GP in Staffordshire, said he has seen an increase in patients for phone-related problems.

Kanneganti, president of the British International Doctors Association, told Eastern Eye: “It’s not just teenagers or youngsters, we are seeing it across the board, [with people] spending eight-10 hours a day watching a screen.

“The constant exposure can cause lack of sleep, insomnia, lack of concentration, and can lead to depression and other mental health issues. It’s a vicious cycle.

“Constant exposure to screen light can also cause migraines, affect eye sight as you need sunlight for vitamin D for your bones to stop aches and pains.

“Such detox centres should come to the UK too. The phone has become like a part of our body – when we wake up, the first thing we do is look at our phones.

“I am glad these places are open in India to help people addicted [to their devices].” Panache Cruises said its survey also found that the Koija Community Starbeds lodge in Kenya and Mumbo Island in Malawi were other popular wi-fi-free destinations this year.

On the Valley of Flowers national park, the Lancashire- based company said: “Perfect for hikers wanting to escape social media and their phones, this destination is a 17km trek from  the nearest town, Joshimath.

“The National Park is full of some of the world’s rarest and endangered animals such as snow leopards and the Asian black bear. With an extensive rocky and rugged landscape, the park sits within two mountain ranges – easily blocking out all phone signals for visitors to the area. A blanket full of colourful, diverse flowers and fauna, the Valley of Flowers is one of the most beautiful destinations for those looking to unplug.”

James Cole, founder and managing director of Panache Cruises, said: “We are seeing increasing popularity for remote holiday destinations, with many customers reporting they are looking forward to switching off their phones and escaping technology for a while.

“Some really struggle to switch off, but by choosing to journey to a truly remote location where even on-board connections will be slow at best, they may find it easier to go cold turkey.”

“Luckily even in 2023, there are still some spots on earth beyond the reach of the internet and mobile phone signals.

“When you go on holiday it’s now become standard to upload pictures of your travels on social media – but with a completely unplugged trip away, it instead becomes mandatory to take in the memories for yourself and look at the stunning landscapes and exotic wildlife through our own eyes, rather than through a screen.

“Getting away from technology and hectic schedules is a great stress-buster. The Valley of Flowers in India is full of some of the world’s most exotic and endangered animals, and Antarctica is truly one of those destinations where you can completely escape from the chaos of everyday life.”

However, Kamran Uddin, a technology writer, said it was hard for people to switch off unless they go “off grid” or travel abroad to have a digital detox.

LEAD Digital detox Valley of Flowers

He told Eastern Eye: “The latter is less extreme than the former, and after the Covid pandemic where people have been stuck at home with electronic devices for two years, I can understand why some might be itching to just get away from life here in the UK.

“India and Sri Lanka are popular destinations due to their religious and spiritual significance. Both countries are also densely covered by mountains, trees and rivers, where research has shown are key ingredients for our mental wellbeing.

“The respective countries are also home to lots of religious saints from different faiths such as Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

“When you look into their lives, most of these saints preached detachment of the material world and reformation of one’s inner diseases such as ego, pride and jealousy to their followers.”

Aman Sunner is a self-worth and confidence mentor at Aman Sunner Mentoring.

She said: “So many of us live such busy lives. With the constant hustle and bustle of work, family, social  life and with social media on top, we rarely get time to switch off.

“All of these aspects are energy leaks in our daily life, but we often don’t see the digital side of things as a physical leak, so it can be overlooked.

“However, the truth is when you show up on stories or social media, you are giving your energy out to hundreds and possibly thousands of people on a daily basis.

“Often we see  ‘shutting off’ as a negative thing because of the societal conditioning that sitting still or not doing anything is lazy: whereas in actual fact, breaking away from the normal hamster wheel of life and stepping into flow to fill yourself back up can ignite your life.

“Next time you feel the need to take a break from people or do a digital detox, don’t feel bad. Remember, you are a human being, not a human doing.”

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