Tech Addiction or Habit? 5 Ways To Assess Your Social-Media Use
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Tech Addiction or Habit? 5 Ways To Assess Your Social-Media Use

Compulsively checking feeds, never feeling satisfied and being anxious without your phone are clues that your social-media use isn’t healthy.

By Julie Jargon
Tue, Jun 14, 2022 1:58pmGrey Clock 5 min

We all feel like we’re addicted to our phones at times, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or chiming in on the latest Twitter scandal—even when we suspect we shouldn’t. How we address our behaviour depends on whether we truly have an addiction, or an unhealthy habit we can kick with a few adjustments.

People throw around the word addiction loosely, but few people are truly dependent on social media, according to mental-health experts. Addiction itself is a spectrum disorder that can range from mild to severe, and treatment can require therapy and a lengthy break.

Even if we’re not addicted, it’s clear that we’re all using social media a lot. A Pew Research Center study last year found that 70% of Facebook users visit the site every day, and that almost half of those daily users access it several times a day.

Here are five general signs that a bad habit might be developing into something more serious—plus tips on how to slow your scroll.

You use social media compulsively.

It’s hard to leave our phones behind when we go anywhere anymore because of the pressure to always be reachable by our bosses, our partners, our kids. When we carry our phones around with us like an extra appendage, it’s hard not to fill free moments by checking social media during an elevator ride, a trip to the bathroom or a stroll in the park.

So what constitutes compulsive use? A 2019 paper in the journal Neuropsychology Review defined compulsive behaviour as the feeling we have to do something repeatedly, even when we know we really don’t have to.

When the compulsion to scroll overrides our better judgment, causing us to do dangerous things such as checking notifications while driving or crossing the road, that’s a reason to pay attention. (On recent mornings, I’ve seen a woman pushing her baby stroller along a busy street in my neighbourhood while staring at her phone.)

Habits aren’t easy to kick because they tend to be done on autopilot, said Phil Reed, chair of the psychology department at Swansea University in Wales, who has been studying the root causes of unhealthy social-media use. “The way to treat habits is to bring them into consciousness and make yourself aware of what you’re doing,” he said.

Tips: Try logging how often you check your feeds in a day, including those brief glances during spare moments. Turn off app notifications, set a blanket Do Not Disturb, or customize Focus settings on Apple devices to automatically turn on during work hours or when you’re driving.

Next, fill the time you normally spend on social media with other activities.

“If you don’t increase other things as you reduce social media, almost any other attempt to reduce it won’t work,” said Cal Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.”

Your social-media use is getting in the way of life.

Anna Lembke, a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, relies on this simple definition of addiction: “The continued compulsive use of a substance or behaviour despite harm to self and/or others.”

Scrolling through interior-design photos on Instagram before bed (um, totally speaking for a friend here) likely won’t hurt you, as long as you’re not delaying sleep too much.

If your social-media use is hurting your relationships, your work, your sleep or other aspects of your health—but you scroll anyway because you feel you can’t stop—it’s time to take action.

Tips: Dr. Lembke recommends that people who want to kick a habit do what she calls a “24-hour dopamine fast” by not touching any screen-related devices for a day.

“Prepare for the fast by letting people know you won’t be reachable,” said Dr. Lembke, who wrote “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.” It’s also better to do the fast with friends or family, she said.

People should pay close attention to how they’re feeling during the fast, Dr. Lembke said, and note symptoms such as anxiousness, irritability and intrusive thoughts about getting back to their feeds.

“Hopefully by the end of that day, people will have experienced a lessening of those symptoms and discover that they’re actually feeling better,” she said.

For people who suspect they have a full-blown tech addiction, she recommends a 30-day screen fast. She said she realizes how daunting that sounds, but it takes about a month of abstaining from addictive behaviours and substances for the reward pathways in the brain to reset.

You need more social media to feel satisfied.

As with any type of substance or behaviour dependence, social-media overuse can lead to increased tolerance to its pleasurable effects, which requires you to seek out more to feel good, Dr. Reed said.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve been ramping up your time on social media, track your app usage over time by looking at the screen-time settings on your phone.

Tips: Dr. Lembke suggests restricting phone use to certain hours of the day and setting time limits on the apps that suck you in the most.

It can help to write down what you plan to do on your phone before you use it, as a way of keeping yourself honest, she said. “If you do want to use it in an escapist, mind-numbing way, limit the amount of time you’ll do that, and schedule it in.” (See, you can take that nightly Instagram break you need!)

You’ve convinced yourself that you have an audience you need to serve.

This doesn’t apply to influencers who make a living posting on social media—which is not to say their use can’t be problematic. It’s intended for the teens and parents alike who have told me they feel pressure to post frequently.

Tips: Dr. Newport suggests you conduct an experiment and stop posting for a while without telling anyone, and see if anyone remarks on your absence. “People often find that no one notices,” he said.

You also could share directly with one person or a small group through traditional messaging, or new photo-sharing apps popular with Gen Z.

You suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you’re not on social media.

If you experience anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression and strong cravings for social media when you’re not using it, that’s an indication of addiction.

Tips: Dr. Newport suggests using a decluttering approach to social media, much like getting rid of old clothes in your closet to make room for new ones. First, he said, delete all social-media apps from your phone. Take two weeks to a month to clear your head.

Then, slowly and intentionally, add back apps that serve a specific purpose, and develop rules around using them. For example, if Facebook was a way to communicate with your local running group, promise yourself that you will use Facebook solely for that purpose.

For people who feel they have a serious addiction, therapy may be needed to treat the underlying causes.

After you’ve followed the other tips above, schedule a recurring digital break—say one day a week—to reinforce your healthier new habits.

“If you’re not addicted to social media but struggling with overuse, my experience is that having a ‘digital sabbath’ is enough of a reminder to moderate our consumption,” Dr. Lembke said. “Even if it doesn’t make brain changes, it keeps it top of mind.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication:


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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.


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