How Hoda Kotb's retreat experience changed her relationship to her phone

Bruno Cooke December 14, 2021
How Hoda Kotb's retreat experience changed her relationship to her phone


Hoda Kotb just arrived back after a long and conspicuous absence from her viewers’ television screens – for almost 10 days, no less – she was staying at a wellness retreat “where they take your phone away”, she told co-host Jenna Bush Hager yesterday during the fourth hour of TODAY. How has Hoda Kotb’s experience on retreat changed her relationship to her phone?

When did Hoda Kotb go on retreat?

Kotb talks about going “almost 10 days without” her phone. 

Given that she returned to the Hoda & Jenna show yesterday (December 13), it is likely she attended the retreat from December 4 – a Saturday – and spent two weekends and the week in between there.

That coincides with her last Instagram post (on December 4), captioned “Happy weekend xoxox”, featuring a quote. 

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Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for AARP

The quote is from We The Urban, a digital media outlet, encouraging others to “cherish the people who check up on you”.

Hoda Kotb has not revealed exactly where the retreat is that she attended, or who else was there.

How has Hoda Kotb’s retreat experience changed her relationship to her phone?

Kotb spoke to co-host Jenna Bush Hager yesterday about the ways in which her relationship to her phone has changed, both during and since going on retreat.

“After going almost 10 days without it”, she told Hager, “at the end I walked out into the world. … I looked around and every single person is hunched. … I was looking around, and I asked myself the simplest question.”

“Was I happier with it or happier without it? And I was happier without it.”

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What does she do differently now?

“So I said,” Kotb continued, “how do I do it so that I minimise it and really use it for the necessities? … Just staying narrowly focused.”

“This is a real thing,” she said – rather than a fleeting fad – “and I realised that I feel different [as a result].”

When Hager noted that Kotb had not put her phone on the table in front of her, Kotb replied that she had given it to Brian – “one of our prop guys”. 

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She asked him to “hand it to me at 10 minutes to 8” when she uses it to FaceTime. 

“I feel so free, and so clear,” she opined. “I’m going to do that for a lot of things, I’ve decided.”

She then proceeded to encourage Hager, and their viewers, to “take giant steps, and swing your arms”, as they walk around the house, to loosen up tight shoulders.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or