No matter how much we love our jobs, work can, on occasion, suck. The rest of our lives can too, with stress coming from all corners depending on what's going on. That's why it's so important to remember to take a break from time to time and stay calm.
To help us do that, there's a great app called Calm, available for iOS and Android. It's meant to be an introduction to meditation and mindfulness, or a moment-by-moment awareness of one's thoughts. I was skeptical when I first began the process but after seeing the app mentioned at an Apple keynote by company Senior Vice President Craig Federighi, I decided to give it a shot.
Calm is easy to navigate. First, download Calm from the App Store. Grab a pair of comfortable headphones and a chair and fire it up. The first component is the Seven Days of Calm. It's a step-by-step introduction to meditation, set to a background of a mountain lake or gentle rain or any of a number of other relaxing background sounds.
Each step in the free guided program is 10 minutes long and meant to be done every day for a week. Each session makes for a lovely break in the middle of the day. Users are guided through each session by a soothing female voice, emphasizing a focus on breathing and awareness without judgement.
Eliminating distraction, even for just a few minutes in the middle of the day, ended up helping me relax and realize that all the stuff I was stressing about wasn't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. By stepping back and taking a deep breath, I could gain new perspective on solving my problems.
The free component of the app includes two types of guided meditation in addition to the seven-day program: one focused on calm and another on a body scan (a type of meditation where you attempt to notice individual parts of the body and how they feel). There are nearly two-dozen more guided programs, with lengths ranging from just two minutes to half an hour.
These are available via subscription-based in-app purchases (with more meditations added each month) or a single-purchase pro access. Pricing ranges from $5 to $40 depending on what you're looking for. The flexibility to choose longer or shorter meditations depending on your need and task are really nice, especially once you get into the meditation.
Some meditations focus on getting to sleep, calming anxiety, for use during commuting, building confidence or creativity, focus, inner peace, or gratitude. In our go, go, go society — especially for busy businesspeople — taking a few minutes to take a deep breath and shut out the world is exceptionally valuable.
The free section of Calm is a great introduction to meditation and mindfulness, and it's also possible to simply listen to the relaxing background noises (there are more than two dozen) without the meditation component.
What do you do to destress and relax? Let us know in the comments.
- Meditation improves multitasking skills at work (ZDNet)
- 10 meditation apps to help you stay mindful and focused
- Feeling unmotivated or depressed? Here's how to move forward
- How startup founders can fight stress and protect their mental health
- IT pros beware: Sleep deprivation can spell big trouble
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Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.