I don’t know about you, but sometime around November 9, I realized my tech addiction was worse than ever. Every morning during the months leading up to the election, the first thing I did upon waking up was pick up my iPhone and scroll through my Facebook feed, click on the New York Times and New Yorker articles lambasting the latest insane thing Donald Trump had done, and find myself spiraling down further and further into the abyss. I was getting distracted during the day, too, compulsively scanning headlines the way you can’t look away from a train wreck.
The more I talked to the people around me, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. Studies have shown that smartphone addiction causes distraction, diminishes our memory, and harms our interpersonal relationships. If you’ve been suffering from an overload of information, too, feeling unable to escape, you might be in need of a digital detox. The solution: turn off your laptop, unplug your phone, and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. Here are three ways to do it.
GO ON A YOGA RETREAT
If you practice yoga regularly, you’ve undoubtedly reaped the benefits that just an hour of vinyasa can bestow. Besides improving your circulation, posture, flexibility, and muscle strength, practicing yoga forces you to stay present in the moment, helps you focus, and boosts serotonin levels, making you happier. Now imagine taking that hour-long practice and extending it. Many yoga studios organize retreats as close as the Catskills and as far away as India. Goodyoga, which has locations in Greenpoint and Bushwick, organizes retreats over Valentine’s Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July week, and Labor Day weekend. They also arrange tailored trips accompanied by teachers—options include Kumamoto, Japan and Mysore, India in March, Iceland and Italy in September, and Taiwan anytime. For a more intense digital detox, sign up for a completely silent and tech-free retreat in the Catskills with Yoga to the People—no phones, no texting, no Internet. Upcoming retreats are planned for May 19-21 and November 10-12. Namaste. Goodyoga.com; from $150 per night and yogatothepeople.com; $575 for the weekend.
HOLE UP IN A CABIN IN THE WOODS
Shinrin-yoku—the Japanese concept of forest bathing—has been proven to lower stress, boost the immune system, and promote psychological wellbeing. The benefits come from simply being surrounded by trees in a forest, regardless of physical activity. The founders of Getaway House have seized on this concept, building a series of tiny cabins nestled in the woods. Created in Boston by a group of Harvard grad students, the startup now has seven micro-houses in and around New York City and Boston, where you can go to escape the stresses of daily life, make s’mores by a campfire, and gaze up at the stars. They keep the exact location a secret until you’re ready to go so you won’t be tempted to Yelp nearby beacons of civilization, since the whole point is to be in the woods. There’s even a lockbox for your cell phone. If that isn’t enough to curb your phone addiction, plan a visit to Timberlock on the shores of picturesque Indian Lake in the Adirondacks when it reopens in June. There’s no cell service and no electricity in the cabins. Their packing check-list includes comfortable hiking shoes, binoculars, field guides, bug repellant, and liquor—just the essentials. Getaway.house; from $99 per night and timberlock.com; from $166 per night.
CULTIVATE PLANTS ON A FARM STAY
Are you a member of a CSA? Ever fantasized about giving up city life, sowing the seeds for your own veggies, and raising livestock? Then a farm stay in the Hudson Valley might be right for you. At Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, which supplies meat to Marlow & Daughters, Reynard, the Meathook, and the Park Slope Food Coop, you can get a taste of the bucolic life, even if it’s just for a weekend. Owners Steve and Renee Iacone fixed up an old red barn on the property and now rent it out to guests from May through October. It’s equipped with towels, linens, and all the kitchen supplies you’ll need to cook up a meal using the fresh produce you’ve harvested in their vegetable garden. There’s no TV and no WiFi. Spend the days getting your hands dirty, learning about sustainable agriculture, and you won’t even notice that you haven’t looked at your email all day. Kinderhookfarmstay.com; from $300 per night with a two-night minimum. ♦
Illustrations by Paige Vickers