Like nearly all great technological advances, being connected to our many devices comes with a price, and the blessing and curse of technology is even more unavoidable during a pandemic where video meetings reign supreme. These days, communication, entertainment and constant content can be streamed, scrolled through and downloaded instantly via a plethora of screens. Online content consumption is believed to have doubled in 2020, according to a 10,000 person study spanning across five countries, which reported that adults spend an average of six hours a day looking at screens. Social media platforms in particular can be extremely addictive, built with algorithms encouraging the user to spend as much time as possible in the app, ever wanting more. Further, these applications create FOMO—the fear of missing out—as well as emotional, mental and physical stress as users take in an increasingly filtered and distorted view of the world. Although convenient, constant connectedness can take a toll on the mind, body and spirit.
It’s no surprise, then, that more and more spas are taking note of device- and screen-related concerns. For instance, spa staff at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City noticed an increase in clients’ physical complaints ranging from postural issues to tightness in the shoulders and hip flexors. “These body woes are usually caused by the modern lifestyle of spending too much time sitting in chairs and staring at screens,” explains Jeremy McCarthy, group director of spa & wellness at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
In addition, smartphones and tablets are blurring the lines between work/life balance like never before. Guests at Spa Avania at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, often express concerns of advanced signs of aging, which can be attributed to blue light exposure from their various screens, says Angee Smithee, area director of spas at Hyatt Hotels. Along with premature aging, blue or high-energy visible (HEV) light has been linked to sleep disorders, body aches from inactivity, shoulder tightening and general anxiety. “Artificial light makes us think we should be awake, leading to sleep deprivation,” explains Smithee.
As an industry rooted in wellness, spas around the world are facing technology-related ailments head on, creating specialty treatment protocols and experiences to combat, heal and treat such issues. Here are some of the ways they’re doing it.
Digital Detox Treatments
For the past five years, Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in British Columbia has been providing guests with a digital detox as part of its luxury wellness programs ($5,900 for a seven-night, all-inclusive stay). Restrictions on digital devices are enforced, along with the elimination of alcohol, sugar, starch and processed foods to ensure a full body experience.
Although they often don’t realize the screen-related cause-and-effect of issues like “text neck,” carpal tunnel inflammation and blue light cortisol stimulation, guests quickly experience a newfound freedom as part of this detox journey. “We educate guests about the effects of hormone imbalance, insomnia, lighter sleep and postural strain,” explains Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek program director and lead guide.
In addition, deep tissue therapeutic massages, morning and evening yoga classes, and postural alignment coaching are all on the menu to restore and awaken the body at Mountain Trek. “Our guests get a visceral sense of the impact of our digital world on their muscle-skeletal imbalance, sleep issues and drop in attention span. Eye strain from screen time is leading to more facial wrinkles and sedentarism is leading to a lack of muscle tone and sagging skin in our mid-life guests,” notes Shave.
Alisha Racker’s career in the beauty and wellness industry spans well over a decade. As a licensed master esthetican, she worked hands-on in the treatment room prior to embarking into the corporate world of skin care as a marketing, PR, event planning and social media specialist. Currently, Racker reports on spa-goings, beauty, skin and lifestyle topics for a variety of industry publications and blogs.