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It’s Stress awareness month and I think it’s important if we just stop for a second and take note of the horrible impact stress has on our lives. Right, ready to continue? Good, stress can be important for change and drive but when it reaches a level that is not manageable then, that’s when you need to stop for a minute and evaluate things. So what small changes can you make that will really help?

 

1.Mange your own expectations

 

Expectations is often what drives our stress levels up. This could be us expecting to get a job promotion by a certain date.  It could be expectations to deliver vast quantities of work by a certain deadline or it could even be hitting personal targets you have set.  Take a moment and step back to evaluate what is making you stressed. Ask yourself how much of this, is really in my control? Ask yourself, what can I realistically achieve in this time period?  Once you have established that then begin to manage your own personal expectations better. After that manage the expectations of those around you. Talk to those who are affected by the outcome of your goal and let them know how things are going and how you feel.

 

2. Learn how to relax

 

This may sound relatively simple but you would be surprised how many people struggle to relax when they are stressed. You have probably heard alot about meditation and mindfulness? It’s not just a fad that is on trend, it actually has scientific evidence behind it. So give it a go.

Also find other things that relax you which allow you focus on that activity alone and allow you to be free from intrusive stressful thoughts This could be playing sport, painting, playing an instrument. Try a few things out.

3. Look after your body

 

Now when I say this I mean think about the food you are eating when you are stressed and the level of sleep you get. So when we are stressed we tend to stress eat. Popping out for a muffin from M&S at lunch? or maybe it’s shoving down a galaxy bar and a packet of crisp for dinner because you’re going to be home to late to cook.  Get on those quick health meals – make your lunch the night before. Develop a sleep schedule and stick to it. Make sure you’re going to bed at the same each night and have a relaxing routine before bed. Sleep is often the thing that is most affected when we are stressed but the thing we most need when we are stressed to help us operate.

 

 

 

We’ve all been there on the tube, in the car or maybe walking to work thinking I could do more with this time. Why not make the most of your commute, so you can feel you’ve accomplished a lot before you even get to work. Here’s a handy list of apps to get you on your way to more productive commute – you’re welcome.

1. Listen to a podcast – Stitcher

Although reading a book is great and we don’t want this pastime to die. It’s not always easy to get a book out or indeed fit one in your bag alongside your laptop, gym kit and your snacks for later. Also, Podcasts are great if your driving and don’t have four hands. You’re likely staring at a screen all day so why not give your eyes a break and just plug-in and listen. Some great podcasts: Tim Ferris Show, Stuff You Should Know, Ted Radio Hour to name a few. So what’s the app? Well, Stitcher is free and allows you to create a playlist of your favorite podcasts.

Image of Stitcher app on phone

2.Get some Buddha into your day  – Calm

We all need some head space and some time to just focus on our breath. Meditation is massively on trend and for good reason. There is a lot of research to say that taking time to just focus in the moment has wondrous effects on your health and mentality. So give this one a go. It’s free and has a range of things you can do from guided meditation to just focusing on your breath.

image of calm app on phone

3.Organise your food goals- Jawbone UP

Trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, but always forget about that cheeky brownie at lunch or the extra glass of wine at the pub? Well, this app is great for helping you maintain a healthy diet or track your food to try to lose weight. They have a great feature to be able to watch your goals with friends and challenge them to a duel. Which is a race against your friend to do more steps in a set period such as 3 days. If you’re competitive this could be a great motivator for a lunchtime walk.

image of Jawbone UP app on phone

4.Catch up with what you couldn’t do earlier – Pocket

Ever too busy to read something but bookmark it for later and never actually get round to reading it. Well, all that could change with this handy app from Pocket. You can save articles from google (other search engines are available), twitter, Facebook, email, or almost anywhere else. Then, when you’re stuck on a train for 30 minutes because there is yet another strike; you’ll feel a lot more informed and motivated knowing you have had a productive commute.

Image of Pocket app on phone and tablet

5.Get your to-do list in shape –Wunderlist

Everyone loves a list, don’t they? I don’t know if it’s the numbered/listed thing of knowing you have objectives or maybe the satisfaction in crossing or ticking something off the list. Whatever your reason for making lists; there is a fantastic app called Wunderlist which allows you to make lists, add reminders, share with others ( i.e remind Tash to do her slides for that presentation). It also syncs with your computer – making life just that bit easier. So if you’re a list maker, write this on your to-do list to install.

Image of Wunderlist app on phone

6. Get everything connected – IFTTT

Ever get so confused by all the apps you have and wish everything could just be more synced and together? Well, this nifty bit of tech does this for you. IFTTT ‘gets all your apps and devices talking to each other’. The platform has a range of what they call ‘Applets’ which can bring services together to give you new options for making life easier.Image of IFTTT app on phone.

7. Zone out and concentrate more – Noisli

This app is fantastic at helping you zone out and focus which will inevitably increase productivity. You can create a custom sound scape to suit you by choosing a range of natural sound as well as brown, white and pink noise generators. Phone are used for lots of things and some apps stop running as soon you close them, however, this one keeps going meaning you can use other apps at the same time. Give it a try.

Image of Noisli app on phone

8. Personalise your typing – Swiftkey

We all do things a little differently. We have different preferences when using devices. This app allows you to custom your keyboard to suit the way in which you use your phone. It has the predictive abilities of Darren Brown. If this doesn’t make for a productive commute when you are getting through emails, I don’t know what will.

Image of someone using Swiftkey on their phone

 

 

 

 

It’s great to start the day with an early morning yoga class. At least, it’s great if you’re a morning person. It might be traumatic having to get up, but we soldier on. Sometimes we might even find a little bit of relaxation in the process. Of course, being based in London, that generally lasts all of seven seconds. But those seven seconds? Amazing. Here are some of the thoughts we’ve definitely had during early morning yoga. Please tell us we’re not the only ones.

  1. This is too early.
  2. I hope I don’t fall asleep if we have to lie on the mat.
  3. If I do, what if I snore?
  4. I can’t believe people do this every day.
  5. Man, I wish I looked like that person.
  6. Do I have to take my socks off?
  7. Do people seriously do this every day?
  8. No. I am an empowered, confident person who does not have these thoughts.
  9. I really do wish I looked like them, though.
  10. Ooh, they’ve got their own yoga mat. I bet they’re, like, a pro.
  11. Are they going to play this music the whole way through? This isn’t-
  12. Oh, actually, this is quite relaxing.
  13. Oh my god, I can’t even touch my toes.
  14. Can I Instagram this? People should know I did this.
  15. I bet that person’s t-shirt never rides up.
  16. Stop staring at that person’s arse.
  17. Wait. What was that? I wasn’t listening.
  18. I don’t have a practise. Should I tell them I don’t have a practise? What’s a practise?
  19. Wait, my leg’s supposed to go where?
  20. Don’t fart, don’t fart, don’t fart.
  21. Don’t giggle, don’t giggle, don’t giggle.
  22. Man, this is actually pretty hard.
  23. I am a warrior in my warrior pose and my warrior name is Beyonce Pad Thai. I should probably get my own warrior name and stop stealing Mindy Lahiri’s.
  24. Why do people need hot yoga when normal yoga makes me sweat this much?
  25. Am I thinking too much?
  26. How does everybody just know what this stuff means?
  27. I wonder if the candles have ever set anything on fire.
  28. Seriously, don’t fart, don’t fart, don’t fart.
  29. I wish I’d eaten something before I got here.
  30. Seriously. Did anyone else just hear my stomach rumbling?
  31. I should definitely book my yoga retreat when I get home. I wonder if they’ll let me have three months off, or if I should just quit. How much would it cost to get to the Andes?
  32. Was I always this tall?
  33. *Mental Facebook status drafting*
  34. *Mental ‘I’m so relaxed and cultured’ tweet planning*
  35. I am now officially relaxed. I am calm and centred. Woe betide the first motherfucker who ruins it.

Don’t forget…

If the group class experience isn’t for you, you can book individual sessions with awesome yoga experts through HowNow. The beauty of that is that you don’t even have to leave the house – just put your mat on the floor next to your bed and roll onto it when it’s time to get going!

Meditation is all the rage these days. But is it just another fad, or is it actually a good thing to start doing? Well, it probably depends on how you feel about becoming less stressed and more physically healthy. You feel good about that? Well, in that case, you might want to consider taking it up. After all, the benefits are numerous.

Reduced stress

There’s nothing better for reducing stress than by getting away from the thing that’s stressing you out. Meditation requires you to take ten minutes to yourself somewhere quiet, and focus on breathing. Therefore, these two facts mean that meditation is a perfect way to combat stress. It doesn’t take a long time, either. Even taking ten minutes can help to put things in perspective.

Improved concentration

Studies have shown that people who meditate have an increased ability to stay on task when they’re working. They also switch between tasks less and appear to have a higher level of satisfaction in what they’re doing. Meditation improves focus and memory skills, which both contribute to the ability to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Increased self-awareness

A key part of meditation is learning to acknowledge the way you’re feeling rather than burying your emotions. You acknowledge it, and then you move on. That can be applied in everyday life as well – if you feel yourself getting angry you can deal with it and move on rather than letting the negativity fester and get worse.

Reduced blood pressure and illness

As you reduce your stress levels, there’s a good chance you’ll see a reduction in blood pressure. There’s also a physical effect as well. As you relax, your body’s level of Nitric Oxide increases. This in turn causes your blood vessels to open up, which means your blood pressure is reduced. There are also regular meditators who swear they experience less illness since they started meditation. However, the jury still seems to be out the effect of meditation on the immune system.

Increased creativity

If you’ve been feeling a creative block lately, meditation can help to work past it. We’ve aready mentioned that meditation can lead to increased concentration, increased self-awareness, and reduced stress. As a result,  many people experience significant increase in creativity. As it turns out, all you need is a quieter mind.

Improved relationships

It might be a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a colleague, a boss, or just that stranger in the street who barged in to you. Either way, meditation can help you to feel more open and compassionate which can, in turn, have a positive impact on your relationships with the people in your life.

Increased happiness

As a result of all of the above, once you start meditating you might find you start feeling happier on a daily basis. And why wouldn’t you? After all, you’ve made yourself healthier, and less stressed, and you might even have improved your relationships. Just imagine what could happen if you did it on a regular basis.

meditation

So, what do you think? Will you be taking up meditation? If so, the classes on HowNow are a great place to start as you can get one-on-one guidance to get you started and you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home.