Mind Your Wrist: Achieving Mindfulness with Wearables

I am addicted to my Apple Watch. There. I said it. Calendars from school, consulting work, bills and housework pop up on my watch and keep me in check all day, and that’s not accounting for, you know, duties for my full-time job.

The Apple Watch is not alone. Wearables change how we receive information and enhance our lives with modern tech. Critics, however, ask why anyone would want to be any more connected than they already are. This was the response I got from a past manager when I ordered the Kickstarter Pebble Watch. Connectedness is important to me, and organization maintains an effective use of time.

So how does one leverage wearables in a way that adds value and not disturbance? How do we avoid the expense of multitasking and attain the power of focus?

Wearables are all about how you use them, like anything else. The default settings to receive every Instagram follow and Vine compilation is just one area in which some users just do it wrong. I’ve learned to enhance mindfulness with my Apple Watch and take some steps toward a less stressful and calmer work day. Here’s how.

Do Not Disturb

More a setting than a feature, the simplest thing any of us can leverage with our devices is the Do Not Disturb switch. Just because you can receive every notification from every app 24/7 doesn’t mean it is healthy. Studies show that notifications on our phones distract us even when we don’t check them.
When you’re in a meeting or grabbing coffee with a friend, tap that icon. Being present is one of the only ways to gain value from our moments of connection — the emails and tweets can wait.

Breathe

The new Breathe app for watchOS 3

Apple Watch’s new software update brings many long-overdue enhancements to your wrist. The Breathe app is my favorite, a reminder to stop, relax, focus, and breathe.

Breathe prompts the user to stop what they are doing and simply breathe. Through a series of animations and haptic vibrations, the watch guides you through a minute (or more) of intentional inhaling and exhaling. Then, Apple Watch displays your BPM.

My BPM consistently drops more than 10 beats between before and after readings. Not only that, I actually feel like I had a mental refresh. It is like shoving everything, your books and notepads and pens off your desk and staring at a blank slate. Then you can get back to work with more refined focus.

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. — Amit Ray

Meditate

Meditating often conjures images of spiritual “ohms” and outstretched hands. At its core, meditation is a means of training your sense of attention and strengthening focus. Studies show an increase in productivity as a result of regular meditation. While there are many interpretations of how to meditate, most sources agree that you should set a daily goal.

One of my favorite customizations of the Apple Watch is simply adding the Timer function to the home screen. From there, two presses instantly start a 5, 10, 15 or 30-minute timer. And relax.

References to “mindfulness” over time, as visualized by Google Trends.

Mindfulness allows us to embrace our focus, presence, and productivity by breaking the cycle of workday stressors. It helps us stay sharp and creative at moment’s notice, solving problems with finesse. Mindfulness is an old technique, a re-emerging fad, and a therapeutic technique. As of late, the interest in and constant quest for mindfulness has exploded. Wearables, worn right, can aid in your mindfulness.

Of course, wearables are not the one-stop solution to a chaotic mind. If you’re like me, you’ll still find yourself flying through thoughts from the feedback you received to an email you have to send to a new idea for your website all in a matter of seconds. Sometimes it is all day. Sometimes you stop — and breathe.