After a long, exhausting year, studies show we’re more stressed than we’ve ever been, and since many of us aren’t taking a real break, it’s high time we turned to some small, day-to-day activities to help us summon calm incrementally, rather than in one big holiday-sized go. Mindfulness is one such tool, which has been shown to support our physical and psychological wellbeing, reduce loneliness and improve attention levels. But while we can ostensibly be mindful wherever we are and whenever we feel like it, sometimes we need a little helping hand.
To that end, Apple’s new and improved Breathe app for Apple Watch (or WatchOS8) is now called the Mindfulness app and keeps breathwork and mindful moments at your wrist, for some assistance whenever you want it. “Quiet your mind, relax your body, be in the moment – this is what guided us when we created the Breathe app, inviting users to take moments in their day to follow deep breathing sessions that are, at their shortest, one minute,” says Julz Arney, Apple’s director of fitness technologies and Fitness+. “The simple act of paying attention to your breath and slowing it down prompts a physical relaxation response that can help you manage the everyday stress of life. There’s also great evidence that moments of mindfulness sprinkled throughout the day are as useful as – if not even more beneficial than – a single, longer session.”
Read MoreCupping: The Noughties Wellness Craze Having A Timely Renaissance
Which is why the digital giant created the new “Reflect” mode on the updated Mindfulness app, which is available to download now. Prompting you to set a mindful intention or idea and focus on it (for example: thinking of something you’re grateful for), for as little as a minute, when you’re finished you’ll be left with a summary of the time you’ve spent being mindful, as well as your average heart rate from the session – likely to be slower once you’ve completed your brief task. The power of the mind, hey?
The Reflect sessions “bring more mindful moments into the day in ways that are convenient and organic – and aren’t something you have to make a big investment in,” says Arney. “It’s a simple way to direct and focus your thoughts, and we see it as training for your mind. There are three themes – renew, connect and grow – and underneath each one is a specific type of practice.” While renew is all about de-stressing and recharging, connect is about feeling more in touch with yourself and others, and grow is about the exploration of thoughts and experiences. Within these three pillars, there is a practice for every mood and motivation.
This is accessible mindfulness that it’s easy to commit to – and it’s commitment that will ultimately pay dividends when it comes to your stress levels and mental health. Whether it’s at your desk or while you walk down the street, you can do it anywhere, making it an easy habit to develop, and one that will boost your mind, body and soul now.