Hoda Kotb is opening up about how she not only survived but thrived after spending almost 10 days without her smartphone.
The TODAY co-anchor recently gave up her phone during some well-deserved time off from the show. “I went to this retreat where they take your phone away — that was one of the things,” Hoda told co-host Jenna Bush Hager Monday during the fourth hour of TODAY.
Relinquishing the phone wasn’t easy for Hoda, 57, who, like many people, had a dependence on her phone that wasn’t entirely healthy. But after going almost 10 days without it, she felt like a new woman.
“It was so funny because at the end, I walked out into the world and what I noticed was everybody was hunched over a phone — and no judgment because me too, right?” Hoda said, acknowledging her former phone addiction.
“But I looked around and I was like, every single person is hunched,” she said. The sight was enough to make Hoda wonder how it all would look to someone unfamiliar with modern life.
“If you had slept for 30 years … you would know that when you woke up and looked around that everyone’s looking at this tiny box and holding it like it’s gold, and where is it, and if they lose it, they’re freaking,” she said.
Seeing everyone glued to their smartphone screens, Hoda asked herself a simple question about her own phone: “Was I happier with it or happier without it?”
“And I was happier without it,” she realized.
The busy mom of two — Hoda shares daughters Haley, 4, and Hope, 2, with fiancé Joel Schiffman — decided that she needed to come up with a practical plan to minimize her phone use, relying on it only for “necessities.”
Her goal? “Just staying narrowly focused” on the task at hand on her phone, while resisting the urge to click on every headline, banner and notification that caught her eye.
That is quite a change for the co-anchor, who revealed on the show in 2018 that she’d resorted to stashing her phone in Tupperware in order to stop herself from falling down internet rabbit holes.
After sticking to her new smartphone plan for a while now, Hoda said the results have been wonderful. “I realized … I feel different,” she said.
She’s also not letting her return to TODAY interfere with her goal — even if it means asking for help.
Earlier on Monday, Hoda explained, she asked one of the TODAY crew members to hold on to her phone until she was scheduled to FaceTime another crew member a short time later.
“I feel so free and so clear,” she gushed.
Gina Vivinetto is a writer for TODAY.com. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she spends her free time hiking, reading and snuggling with her “Friends” box set. She and her wife, Molly, are the proud moms of two formerly stray cats, Sophie and Pierre, and a rescue dog named Gracie.
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