A Little Zen for Your Work Day…
We’ve all heard or read about the benefits of “meditation”, “mindfulness”, “single-focus” and “keeping your brain active” to relieve stress and increase your health, well-being and longevity. When was the last time you consciously took time to do any of those things? We spend more of our waking hours at work than almost anywhere else, so there’s no better place to set up a little brain training!
Do Nothing www.donothingfor2minutes.com
You don’t have to sit for hours to get the benefits of meditation. Even a few minutes makes huge changes in your body and brain chemistry. This site is meditation as simple as it gets: go to the website and then… Do. Nothing. A two minute countdown timer ticks over an ocean sunrise with the simplest of instructions: “Just relax and listen to the waves. Don’t touch your mouse or keyboard.” If you manage to make it the whole two minutes, you get a job well done and a surprising amount of benefit from such a short period of mindfulness. If you just can’t resist a quick peek at your email, the website resets the clock with an equally simple “Try Again.” Keep trying…if it is that hard to be still for just two minutes, you probably could use the practice.
An instant oasis in the middle of your day. Put this shortcut on your desktop or browser bar, and Calm will have peacefully meditating in just one click. “Take a deep breath” it says as the screen loads, and you are immediately watching a calm mountain lake and listening to nature sounds. Hover over an icon in the corner and choose a different scene if you prefer. Once click sets a timer from two to twenty minutes, another opts for guided meditation or timer only. Want to take it with you? Calm is in the iTunes App Store, and Google Play. Basic scenes, timers & guided meditations are free, more targeted guided meditations are available for a few dollars a month, and the app will even track how you’re doing if your goal is a regular mindfulness practice.
Find it hard to focus when you want to work? This brilliant website uses multiple channels of carefully curated instrumental music “remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement.” Pick a channel you like, set the volume to a level you hardly notice, and set a timer if you want. You’ll be amazed when the music stops at just how much you’ve gotten done. Need a little pick up later in the day? Or want to bring it down a notch? Just select a higher or lower beat rate. It’s free to try a limited selection of music, and a few dollars a month for the full range of channels. iOS and Android apps available.
“Enough noise to work.” That’s it. Just the quiet background murmur of your favorite coffee shop in the morning, or a little lunchtime bustle. Miss your college coffee shop? They’ve got one of those too. For $9 a year, premium members can get exotic with coffee shop sounds from Paris, Brazil…and…Texas (“hefty sounds from a big state”). iOS and Android apps here too.
The app you never knew you needed. In the daytime, your computer screen looks like it should. Bright, easy to see and comfortable to focus on. But at night, it can be a little overwhelming—and all that full-spectrum light can be hard on your sleep. f.lux works in the background to automatically adjust your screen hue to a warmer tone in the evenings as the light changes. It fades gently in, shifts with the seasons and time changes, and has a side benefit of significantly reducing the amount of blue light, which science suggests interferes with normal sleep cycles. Need to turn it off for a few minutes for accurate color work? You can do that too. In the morning, it’s back to full sunlight and brightness again. It’s definitely much easier on the eyes…and who knows, it might just help you sleep better. Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and jailbroken iOS devices. The Mac OS X version has lots of extra features for custom color/lighting schemes, weekday/weekend schedules, bedtime warnings, night owl settings, and extra sleep time for teens.
Want a little brain workout instead? Lumosity works on the theory of “neuroplasticity” – basically, the more you use parts of your brain, the more they develop and change to meet the challenges presented. Take a cognitive evaluation on the site, and Lumosity will suggest games to increase things like reaction time, pattern recognition, concentration, focus and memory. There are iOS & Android apps so you can play whenever you have a few moments, and the site will even nag you to get your ‘brain training’ in, if you like; and keep stats to let you know how you’re doing over time.
So next time you’re planning to peek at FaceBook, Twitter, or sneak in a game or twelve of Candy Crush…why not do something to calm your mind and body, and exercise your brain?