After a few years of intentional practice, I've gotten to the point where I can now carve out time for self care in my life without any feelings of guilt. I know when I need to spend an evening at home, taking a long bath, drinking tea, watching something stupid on Netflix.
But it still kinda takes a backseat in the moment. I have the tools to take care of myself when I need to, but what I've been thinking about working on is mindfulness, you know? Being aware of and managing my stress and emotions throughout the day, rather than letting things pile up until I need to take a break and deal with all that tension.
I recently got the opportunity to try out the Spire Mindfulness & Activity Tracker, and it's given me some serious insight into how my body and mind are working when I'm not paying attention. Spire tracks not just your steps (which provided, um, kind of a dismal realization about my daily activity), but also your tension levels. The wearable attaches to your clothing – clipping onto your pants or bra – and monitors your breathing rate. (And by the way, after a few minutes, you totally forget you're wearing it. I even slept with it on once by accident!) It learns what your baseline is, and offers a gentle vibration whenever you've been tense for more than two minutes.
That physical aspect of the reminder is what makes it work for me. I can kind of get emotional blinders when working on something that requires a lot of focus, and the buzz snaps me out of whatever stress spiral I'm currently in. And if I really need help breaking the cycle, I can use the guided meditations ("boosts") in the app to refocus.
Okay, so it's all very cool and high tech while also supporting mindfulness. But what really surprised me was how quickly I learned to recognize the signs of tension in my body before being notified by the Spire. It took just a few days of getting that little vibration until I was able to identify and start to shut down stress before reaching the two minutes of tension that triggers the notification.
I also learned about what some of my triggers are – for example, I already knew I tend to get really into movies and TV shows, but that interest and emotional investment has a physical aspect, too! I got the tension notification maybe four or five times while watching The Giver the other night, ha. And while at work I tend to have mostly calm or focused streaks (Spire tracks those, too), there are a few projects in particular that definitely trigger a physical stress response. Now I know that those deserve a little bit more undivided attention and maybe some extra creativity to solve. I can remind myself to come at them from a place of peace rather than dread.
I've been wearing the Spire every day since it arrived, and have been gaining some serious insight to my own personal patterns of stress and relaxation, plus a few more tools to help identify and derail anxiety and tension when it happens. (And I've also been playing lots of Pokemon Go to help boost my steps number, ha!)
I would love to hear – what are some of your favorite ways to keep mindfulness, well, in mind?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.