Technology is draining. Social media networks are programmed to make you come back for more, constantly swiping to refresh, like and post. You are constantly at your PC, your smartphone, your TV. You fall asleep to Netflix or reading Twitter as it spits up funny gifs or more bad news. It can wear you down. You’re no longer in college with all the energy in the world and next to no commitments or obligations. You need to know when to unwind, avoid burning out and control (at least some) of your unhealthy (perhaps excessive) tech habits.
For me, this was recently compounded with a move back to the UK from Japan, changes at work and all this political upheaval both at home and abroad. I’ve been feeling frazzled and have been trying to find time to relax, switch off, center myself and other frivolous terminology I take to mean “feel less shitty.” Ask my friends and they’ll tell you I’m constantly glued to my phone or asking for a cable to recharge it. It takes its toll physically too, in the form of tired eyes, a stiff neck and reaching for my phone when I should be sleeping.
There’s no shortage of introductory guides to meditation, relaxation podcasts and devices that promise to help or offer relief.
So what did I do? What should you do? Those are probably different answers. There’s no shortage of introductory guides to meditation, relaxation podcasts and devices that promise to help or offer relief. As someone who’s glued to my phone, to every message, email, retweet, like, follow and Tinder match that come my way, could I somehow break free with the help of technology? Not everything will work for you, but something should. I’m new to this. As I alluded to earlier, I’m more prone to burnout (and even getting sick) when work or personal stuff bears down on me, but what follows is a roundup of the things I’ve found most effective.
Podcasts and other listening
There are so many of them, but at least podcasts are nearly always free to try out. Personally, I found that the host’s voice will either endear you to a meditation podcast or put you off completely. (For some reason, I discovered Aussie accents to be the most relaxing.)
The Daily Meditation Podcast is a good starting point. Host Mary Meckley puts out a new one almost every day, and she’s almost on her thousandth episode.
Then there’s white noise. For the uninitiated, white noise is the result of combining sounds of different frequencies. Why is this a good thing? It squeezes out other sounds: neighbors, the hum of your AC, traffic outside. Even if it doesn’t drown it out completely, it makes it harder for your brain to pick it up, meaning you can better focus or relax. I have a former colleague who uses white noise to fall asleep almost daily. You’ll find something to listen to practically everywhere, from iTunes to Spotify. Here’s an entire YouTube channel dedicated to white noise.
This is where investing in either an app or some sort of gadget can help. Setting aside my cynicism about paying for something that you can do for free, there are a few reasons to do it. Devices and apps can help you build a habit, and they mean you’re (literally) investing in it. Things you pay for will draw you to use them more, at least initially.
Many apps will also track your progress and remind you that you haven’t managed to fit in some relaxation time during the day. Smartphone applications can even improve your meditation sessions, whether that’s heart rate feedback or monitoring the length of your sessions. They’re offering metrics on your efforts — and I find that important.
But as with podcasts, there are so many of them: good and bad, free and paid for. From my time researching and trying things, the best advice is to explore the options, take advantage of free trials and see what sticks. That’s vague, but then again, mindfulness and meditation often are.