image via Pixabay
The 21st Century is turning out to be deeply stressful so far, for a large number of people, and a wide range of reasons.
This isn’t necessarily easy to understand at first glance. It’s pretty clear that people today are, by and large, far better off than they were in the past by any number of measures. Food is more plentiful, modern medicine cures diseases and saves lives on a scale that could never before have been imagined, and the internet allows for instant communication across the globe, not to mention access to more in-depth knowledge and information than all the libraries of the past contained.
But for all that, there are many causes of chronic stress not linked directly to eternal concerns like buying a house or putting food on the table.
Along with the endless resources of the internet, comes an endless barrage of information that causes us to exist in a low-level of perpetual anxiety. Adverts cause us to question our health and our lifestyle choices. The news makes us question our safety. Social media drives us to question our popularity.
This article is about the flipside of this equation — it’s about some ways that you can use gadgets and apps to help you deal better with stress and enhance your mood.
A SAD light
We, humans, evolved to spend the majority of our waking time outdoors, with the sun shining down on us (even if not always very brightly), before falling asleep in the almost-complete darkness of the night.
When we remove ourselves from this natural state of affairs, certain issues inevitably arise. One of these is that our circadian rhythms are thrown for a loop, and we find it hard if not impossible to maintain a normal sleep and waking cycle, while still getting adequate rest.
More often than not, people will feel exhausted during the day, and wide awake in the dead of night. This can lead to poor health, poor mood, poor concentration, and an elevated output of stress hormones.
The lack of sunlight we face from being indoors all the time has other consequences, too. Seasonal Affective Disorder — or SAD — is a form of depression that occurs specifically in the darker months of the year, and is thought to originate largely from a lack of natural light exposure.
Both of these issues can be remedied by buying a SAD light, designed to provide a full-spectrum of light that matches the rays of the sun as closely as possible. Shining a SAD light on yourself during the early hours of the day, and through the afternoon, can help to reset your circadian rhythms, boost your mood, and reduce your stress.
Part of the cause of modern stress and anxiety is the fact the modern world is immensely complex, and we are often now expected to divide our attention and energy between more topics than ever before. Our jobs are typically more complex and multifaceted than in the past, our social lives more varied, and hobbies more elaborate.
Add to this the endless stream of new ideas, potential purchases, and suggestions found on the internet, and the mere of knowing what to do at any given moment can become immensely stressful.
Nozbe is an app based on David Allen’s famed “Getting Things Done”, or “GTD”, project management method. The app allows for the straightforward implementation of the method, which involves “capturing” new thoughts or tasks in an inbox, processing them into project categories, identifying next options, and working through them systematically
Being able to clearly conceptualise and arrange your tasks in this way automatically reduce anxiety.
Surfing the web and coming across interesting article after interesting article can be devastating for your attention and your ability to work.
Evernote is a hugely popular, all-purpose note-taking app that allows (via a browser extension) to “clip” articles and videos and save them to your Evernote library to be categorised and viewed later.
In this way, you can reduce stress by storing any interesting thing you find for later, rather than allowing it to drain your attention right now.
Calm meditation app
Mindfulness meditation is becoming increasingly popular these days, and the practice is by no means just a gimmick.
Scientists have demonstrated in numerous instances that mindfulness meditation leads to changes in the brain, with some research suggesting it even increases the overall quantity of grey matter in certain regions of the brain.
Mindfulness meditation is also clearly associated with improved mood, reduced stress, better impulse control, and a variety of other benefits.
Calm is one of a variety of leading meditation apps, offering a huge selection of guided and unguided meditations, sleep stories, and more.