In recent years, health and wellness centers are catering to clients who want far more than feel-good country spas and or challenging exercise adventures. Centers today offer approaches once considered unconventional, but now more mainstream, like acupuncture, natural medicines, and hypnosis.

This is the first in a series of stories telling how we can make our lives better through therapies that don’t involve medication. For each, we will list the therapy, then lay out the theory behind the therapy, and what you can expect afterward.

Retreats to unplug

Good for helping with: reducing stress, calming anxiety, and general mental health

Theory behind the therapy:
Most of us spend the majority of our days either looking at a computer screen, on the phone, or both. Screen time alone is damaging our vision and our sleep, plus technology has shown to produce “reward-seeking” addictive behavior – like obsessively checking your phone for texts, Twitter updates, Facebook likes, Instagram posts.

Sound like anyone you know?

Excessive phone and computer usage releases the pleasure hormone, dopamine, giving the user a high, much like the use of drugs–not a healthy habit.

The idea behind health and wellness retreats is to take guests away from technology to reconnect with themselves. Retreats are often held in a natural setting, like deep within the mountains or right on the seashore. The relaxing atmosphere is meant to physically remove people from distractions like phones and computers, and have them focus on the most important aspects of life, like relationships and personal growth.

Health and wellness retreats often offer specific classes, such as yoga, personal training, and personal discovery. While participation in these group sessions is not always required, the team atmosphere can be healing for guests and offers a positive space to build relationships.

What people say:

After a stay at a health and wellness retreat, people can expect to feel more relaxed and less distracted. The change of pace allows people to reevaluate the priorities of day-to-day life. However, retreats specifically designed to “unplug” may not be for everyone – if disconnecting causes your anxiety to ramp to unhealthy levels, it’s time to seek out a different kind of help.

Next month: Acupuncture