I tried TikTok's 'dopamine detox' to kick my social media obsession

I tried TikTok's 'dopamine detox' to kick my social media obsession

I live for the part of my day where I get to curl up in a ball and mindlessly scroll on social media. However, when my TikTok screen time alone hit 12 hours per week, I knew something needed to change.

However, one thing I had seen pop up regularly while on my daily scroll, were dopamine detoxes.

I don’t usually buy into online trends, but with an appetite for changing my ways, and a hashtag that had millions of views, it was a prime opportunity to give it a go.

A dopamine detox is basically cutting off quick sources of dopamine hits. For most of us, it’s things like shopping, ordering takeaways, gambling, and social media. I knew there was no way I could sit in my London flat without falling into one of these traps (besides, you pay to breathe in London these days), so I decided to go full off-grid mode.

I filled a suitcase with every no-screen activity I could think of (books, colouring, journals), and headed out to the Cotswolds for 48 hours of pure zen time.

I was staying at The Fish, which while a typically Instagrammable location, is set on 500 acres at the Farncombe Estate, making it completely remote. It sits high in the hills filled with nature, wild animals, and plenty of activities to distract myself from my phone with.

Here’s how I got on…

Stop one: Cocktail-making. Ok, while this may sound a little off-piste, let me clarify that I had to work to get the goods.

UK spirits brand Sapling is all about drinking sustainably. For every bottle of their gin or vodka sold, a tree is planted, and the details of your personal tree can be found via a code on the lid of the bottle. Pretty cool.

As they’re a partner of The Fish, they set up a tree-planting experience on the grounds which saw us plant around 60 trees that will help shape the future of the land and keep it a green space for years to come. Now I just need to remember to pop back in 10 years to visit my trees.

After getting nice and muddy, we were treated to a zero-waste cocktail masterclass. Sapling’s cocktail connoisseur gave us some top tips for putting together incredible serves using kitchen cupboard ingredients - and we could enjoy guilt-free knowing we were contributing some good to the planet. And fear not, in the name of my new wellness era, I can remember everything from that evening…for once.

Next stop: A mental health boost.

I work really hard (I hope my boss is reading this), and anyone else who works really hard has probably experienced some level of burnout throughout their career. I often find it hard to switch off, even on holidays, but breathwork is making its breakthrough as a new wellness trend designed to reduce anxiety and stress.

The concept is simple. It’s about following a series of guided breathing exercises (you even get given a blanket and an eye mask for extra cosiness), that tap into your nervous system and leave you feeling more centred.

We finished up with a guided meditation that allowed us to reflect and release any negative thoughts from our brains, which served as a great bit of escapism, and I definitely plan to continue bringing it into my everyday routine.

Now came the nervously-anticipated free time. Usually, this would be my opportunity to lay in the fetal position and furious scroll on my phone (whether that be ordering a Deliveroo, picking a new outfit on ASOS, or double-tapping every photo on my Instagram feed) - but no - not today.

I’d already been eyeing up the incredible steel bathtub in the shepherd’s hut I was staying in, so, in a very out-of-character moment, I grabbed a book and hopped in to continue my relaxation streak.

I will admit, I did feel rather disgruntled that I was phone-less, as typically, this would’ve been the perfect Instagram opportunity. However, it gave me chance to reflect, and I realised that since being away, my anxiety levels had dropped.

I decided to head on one final walk before heading back to the Big Smoke, so grabbed a map from The Fish’s welly room and set off around the grounds. While this might sound rather sinister, it’s incredible what you can see when you aren’t living through a screen.

Pheasants, wild swimming lakes, and spectacular views over Broadway and the surrounding villages, it was truly nature at its best, and so peaceful.

I was actually starting to feel sad about leaving, and have already begun planning my next trip back.

So, will I be ditching my phone for good? Tossing my credit card in the trash? No, let’s be realistic.

But I am now trying to be more mindful with my time. I’m actively being strict with my phone, allocating time for more screen-free activities, and getting my creative mojo back.

It’s about making small, manageable changes going forward, and this is one trend I can officially get behind.

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