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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.