Hello my fellow techsperts!
So in this episode of Laura the Techsplorer, I wanted to talk to you about the massive trend that is heath, fitness and wellbeing, with a particular focus on the health and wellbeing parts. Fitness for those of you who personally know me, is a mental barrier and work in progress (also known as a severe case of I prefer catch ups of Love Island in the evening to even attempt getting on our turbo trainer; yes even with a pending holiday in t-minus 12 days!)
So what has spurred me to write about this?
We were recently enrolled onto a mindfulness course within my workplace; something that I have seen is a major focus across a lot of businesses at the moment…
Colleague welfare and wellbeing.
The session itself was ran by a brilliant lady called Lucy Walford, who has had her time in corporate environments, but has studied and practiced the art of mindfulness for around 10 years now. To be honest with you all I wasn’t sure what to make of it. For starters it meant actually putting my phone down and concentrating solely on myself and the moment that we were in (yes, no technology allowed).
So what on earth does this have to do with the world of technology I hear you cry?
Throughout the session we were taught different techniques from breathing to posture, as well as going for a mindfulness walk. An opportunity to really look around you, hear the sounds, appreciate elements of an environment that you’re in everyday, but may not have seen, smells etc. The one thing that I took away from the walk, was all the little things that as a child I loved. Like making daisy chains, throwing those sticky plants onto people’s tops in the vain hope they won’t notice, blowing grass (keep it clean please) to see how high pitched a sound you can make; when did I stop enjoying all of that, or at least appreciating it?
The session really resonated with me. Yes I love tech and everything that it can do amazes me, but I equally need to learn how to switch off and take time for me. Not the Instagram or Facebook me, but the me me. However, being who I am, I know I would find it difficult without daily support or reminders and I equally wouldn’t want to burden anyone to help remind me to take time out. I have naturally therefore decided to try out a couple of apps to support me through my mindfulness journey. Something I am well aware will not happen overnight, but something that I can dedicate to myself for 5-10 minutes a day. Heaven knows I am on social media for longer than that.
So which apps did I go for? Keep on reading…
From heading to my Google Play store (it is also available on the Apple App Store) on my Huawei P20, it quickly became apparent that there were a plethora of choices within the world of apps to support mindfulness. I have to admit that I spent a fair amount of time trawling through the options available. However, how would I know what I would like until I tried a couple out?
*TIP – There are a lot of paid apps out there, that allow a months free trial. Give them a go, you can always cancel if they’re not for you (or you’ll be like me, someone who forgets and then wonders where all her money has gone at the end of the month. #checkyourbills)
So I did what any of us do with a lot of things these days. I read reviews and went with something that had a minimum of a 4 star rating and even had the “Editors Pick” badge displayed next to it.
The installation of the app was super quick (great for little miss impatient here), which meant I could get techsploring straight away. When you initially open the app it will guide you through the pages, all of which are super simplistic allowing for a serene experience. There would be nothing worse when trying to practice mindfulness to have an app that is overloaded and makes the brain spark a thousand and one visionary or auditory sensations…
1st plus point received.
The next steps will welcome you to the app and guide you through what to expect. Notice I used the word guide there? Exactly that, no telling you what to do, more coaching so even the language that they use pushes a serene environment. Which let’s face facts, it is an app on your phone, not something that many would associate with the art of mindfulness.
After the welcome, I began the with the 1st exercise. It was all about breathing and how to use your breath to enable your body and mind to live in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, my mind tends to go ten to the dozen each second of the day, so it is not to say that you completely switch off and this is not what it is about. The guided exercise lasted about 4 minutes, which is not a massive proportion of my day to not be able to keep up and there are 5 initial exercises (1 per day) to complete. You can even choose from 6 background noises to accompany the most calming voice you have ever heard. These range from complete silence, to forests and beach sounds. I have the forest one, those little bird noises; delightful!
2nd plus point received.
After the 1st exercise, I took to exploring the app a little further. Here is where I have discovered that I can set reminders to set time aside to practice at a time convenient for me, favourite some of the sessions (unless you pay for the subscription you will be limited in usage) and even explore the other courses or meditations available after you have completed the 1st 5 days. They range from stress relief (I think some of my colleagues may agree this would be a good one for me) to relationships and body focus exercises. There really is something for everyone and with further exploring I am sure I will be able to feed this back to you. Not only this, but you can link it upto your Gmail and Google Fit accounts.
So what is the cost?
For an annual subscription you pay £45.49 (on the Apple App Store you’d pay $59.99 per annum; roughly £44). This works out at £3.79 a month – come on that’s basically one Starbucks less a month (*other coffee houses are available and this is the 1st one that came into my head. I do in fact prefer a Costa!)
3rd plus point received (it won’t break the bank!)
Naturally, I didn’t want to alienate any of my readers, so I also downloaded a free app…
Let’s Meditate is a free of charge app (again available from the Google Play Store, but I couldn’t find it on the Apple App Store), which really focuses on the meditation side of mindfulness. This I am aware will not be everyone’s cuppa tea, so take the time to explore what is right for you. Unlike the Mindfulness App, this is much more basic and will not provide you with any courses, but it is still super simplistic to navigate your way through and select some of the meditations available.
These range from Body Scan (something we did within the session with Lucy Walford), which is a 14 minute session, to the really quick 5 minute session called Five Minute Miracle. The voices vary per session, but the app will outline if it will be a male or female voice conducting the meditation.
This to me was neither here nor there, but great for those who have a preference.
You can also favourite your preferred meditations and make sure that when practicing, these are played 1st. This is done by clicking on the “order by” button at the top of the page.
Much like the Mindfulness App, you have a settings page that will allow you to have reminders for your practices, but will also show you how many sessions you have completed and the time you have taken for you. I think it is easy to forget this so having a log is a great idea. There is also a “contribute” section within the settings that means you can share the app amongst friends and family as well as supporting the app with monetary contributions. I guess they have to make their buck somehow to keep it going.
There is no doubt about it that we live in a world that is constantly on and connected; technology has really empowered us to be able to do this and I certainly wouldn’t be without it in my life. It does without question make a lot of things easier and ultimately that little bit more exciting. However, I would highly recommend allowing yourself some time to really help switch off. Even if you’re a techie like me, utilise the apps, at least this is something we can resonate with.
… Until next time my fellow techsperts