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The Beauty of Self-Care

The Beauty of Self-Care: Lesson 3 – Practice

by Caitlin Kelch

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Here we are with our third installment of our Self-Care series, and we’re humbled by all of the comments, emails and notes we’ve received from readers. I didn’t realize how empowering it would be to share these posts and exercises with you all. It’s made my own self-care a seriously happy endeavor simply because I know there are so many of you out there in the world working alongside me. Today I thought it was appropriate to share some tech solutions I use when I am waiting for things in life that really try my patience (Lesson One), like waiting in my doctor’s waiting room and standing in a sea of parents when I pick my daughter up from school and feeling guilty for not chatting it up. It’s times like those when I struggle with my breathing and sinking into a calm place, so I tend to rely on technology for a little help. I don’t consider this a bad thing or in opposition to device-free time. In fact, I’m grateful these apps exist because they help me realize my phone isn’t evil — it’s simply a tool for many different things and I can choose what I need from it at any given time.

This week’s lesson is focused on Practice. I’m actually not referring to the type of practice that yoga practitioners refer to. I’m talking about good, old fashioned practice as in doing something again and again! That’s why technology is helpful at the beginning of a self-care routine — it actually helps guide you and reminds you to practice. So don’t feel like you’re cheating when you whip out your phone to get into some self-care. You won’t need it forever!

Please click through for my favorite digital tools that help me remain in the moment and keep me smiling. I’d also love to know if you have any favorites that I haven’t included, so feel free to add them to the comments. –Caitlin

Image above by the talented Alea Toussaint.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-1-34-17-pm Smile More

This falls under the Practice category. It’s nice to have someone remind you to smile, and this app does just that. When my phone makes an alert issue, I instantly tense up, so I’ve turned off most notifications and made time to check certain things at certain times. This is one app I allow to notify and I can schedule it to alert me during those high-stress times. It’s free and I’ve never had the itch to explore any upgrades. It’s simple and builds a good habit. I am definitely smiling more.

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Meditation Studio

This is my favorite meditation app. It has many categories including a section for Moms and Veterans which I find helpful. It took me about a year to not get really sleepy and to get the whole breath thing, but I kept at it by listening to these meditations and I get it now. I found that actually visualizing my breath in the form of a pattern helped me connect with it. Even if you start with a two-minute meditation, twice a week, I think you’ll find yourself wanting more and more. If you’re not ready to do “meditation” per se, the Performance collection has some great pep talks by Emily Fletcher that are definitely worth a listen. “Having a Freakout” is one of my favorites.

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Buddhify

Another good app to test out is Buddhify. Test out meditation apps as you would shop for a good fit doctor. This app has an especially good Sleep section and a robust set of analytics and tools.

 

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-3-40-28-pm Pause

This is by far my favorite relaxation app. Based on the ancient principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness practice, PAUSE brings the act of focused attention to your mobile device. While slowly and continuously moving your fingertip across the screen, PAUSE triggers the body’s “rest and digest” response, quickly helping you regain focus and release stress within minutes. The calming audiovisual feedback in the app is designed to help you keep your attention and focus in the present moment. Throughout development of the application, PAUSE has been continuously tested and validated using EEG-technology and it was developed in part by someone suffering from debilitating depression. This is a good video about the app and its origins.

Pause for Android // Pause on iTunes

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TED

No matter how you feel about TED Talks, the amount of information available and delivered in a thoughtful way is phenomenal. Listening to TED Talks about the brain, neuroscience and even the science behind happiness brings so much comfort with the knowledge that these are all independent systems that are not ALL of who you are and they can be trained to act in a way that is more in accordance with who you want to be. This is the perfect waiting room or commuting app.

If I had to pick one app to recommend for this week’s exercise, I would go with Smile More. Of course, you can download them all and test them out, but this week’s exercise is to download at least one of these apps and interact with it at least one time, each day, for one week. Even if you can’t do an entire meditation or listen to a full TED Talk, interact with the app in some way, like browsing the titles or features.

As an incentive, I personally am going to gift three readers with a $10 dollar iTunes or Google Play card to help pay for more mindful or helpful apps in the future. Please leave a comment and let me know which app you’re going to use for this exercise. I’ll check in with three readers next week to see how it went and to send off their gift cards.

If you’re new to this series, please check out Lesson 1 on Patience and Lesson 2 on Purpose if you’re interested in self-care.

 

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Comments

  • I am going to check out TED since I’m interested in things like neuroscience and…well…learning! I think I’ll especially like this since I can just sit back and listen with this app.

    • Perfect Chelsea!

      That’s how I got into my whole self care mission. I read The Secret Life of the Brain, watched a lot of TED talks and decided to see if I really could change my brain. (I did!)

      Caitlin

  • Lovely post, I’m going to check out the “Smile More” app. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pause really sparked my interest. Having something simple I can turn my scattered attention to and help my mind focus would be worth having!

    • Hi Ashley

      I’m super sensitive and Pause really helped me leave all distractions behind really quickly. I hope you like it.

      Caitlin

  • Smile more is right up my street. Being a teacher back to work I have never felt so tense and dreading work. Not because I don’t like it but I feel like my lessons won’t do great. It’s just a small blip I’m sure because once I’m there I feel better. I think ‘smile more’ will help with tension I feel through work and after

    Lovely blog.

    • Jomila

      I think you’ll like it! You can customize it to remind you at those high stress points in your school day, like before or after you present your lessons :)

      Caitlin

  • I missed the first two posts and went back to read them. I was just at the doctor discussing my increased stress – caught this just in time. I’m going to try Smile and Meditation studio.

    • Perfect timing Connie!

      In the Stress collection in Meditation Studio, try the Soften & Relax meditation by Ashley Turner. It’s a good one! Another trick I’ve learned to mentally get in touch with stress and its physical opposite (so you know what your dealing with), tensing your muscles and holding them for 10 seconds and then releasing helps A LOT. You’ll get to know what it feels like to relax your body so you can get that place even when you don’t realize how scrunched up & tense your body is. Try to just go “limp” occasionally throughout your day!

      Caitlin

  • Pause is important for switching from stressville to refocusing on what is important. Thanks for the great ideas.

  • So glad to find this list today! I’ve been struggling to get into meditation for awhile – I’ve tried Headspace and another app I don’t remember, and I’ve tried doing it on my own, and I usually just end up becoming really tense and self-critical. I’m intrigued by Meditation Studio, especially the idea of visualizing breath – maybe I’ll give it another try. Thank you!

  • I’ve used Buddhify quite a bit, but I wouldn’t mind trying out the Meditation Studio app. I also made a meditation playlist with Singing Bowls (you can buy them in albums on iTunes) and have also used the Sunny, Windy, and Away apps to calm myself down after a stressful day.