Connected & Chill: Favorite Apps for Relaxation

I love technology and social media, but I’ll confess: sometimes it really frustrates me. Occasionally, I’ll close out my Twitter feed or Facebook timeline feeling grumpier than when I opened it. Somewhere between the sub tweets and angsty status updates, I feel worn out and over it.

Some people think unplugging completely is the way to go – ditching the phone for a few hours and decompressing. But that leaves me feeling antsy and anxious – what if I miss a distress call from my sister, and she’s abducted/falls off a cliff/dies of hypothermia because I didn’t answer the phone?!?

The most helpful tools I have for chilling out and being present are actually on my phone. Below are three of my favorite apps for being calmer and happier, especially in the midst of not-so-happy situations (i.e., riding in the car with annoying people, post awkward family dinners, right-before-bed irrational freak outs, etc.)

Try them out, if you’re into that sort of thing.

1. Yoga Studio ($2.99): Whew, am I bad at yoga. Like, horrible. For years I periodically would give yoga another chance by going to a class, only to wind up wobbling around, sweaty and frustrated. Definitely not a chill experience.

Yoga Studio has me (finally) in a loving relationship with yoga. The app lets you download classes to your own personal studio, where you can access them at any time. The guided sessions can be anywhere from 15 – 60 minutes, beginner, intermediate or advanced. You listen to an instructor and watch them on the screen, plus it plays chill music so it really feels like a studio experience. Minus your face being inches away from a stranger’s butt in downward dog. No, thanks.

2. Buddhify ($1.99): Meditation sounds like something a washed up, graying hippie does after her morning doobie. But, really, it can be much more modern than that. Buddhify is a great app for starting a meditation practice, especially if you’re on the go. I use it when I’m driving, at the gym or while trying to fall asleep. These are usually times when my mind runs wild with a million random thoughts or worries, and this app helps me turn those anxious, useless thoughts into relaxing, useful thoughts. I just put in my earbuds and continue on with what I’m doing. It doesn’t get any easier. 

3. Youversion Bible App (free): I love this app even more with every update. It’s crazy organized, easy to navigate and complete with about every translation imaginable. Whenever I’m reading Eckhart Tolle or Gabrielle Bernstein, I can look up biblical references in seconds through this user interface.

I use these apps everyday, and for a few bucks they are totally worth the peace of mind. I also like that they help and guide users in ways that make taking that time for yourself super easy. You don’t need and hour and a half at a gym or on a meditation pillow or in prayer. You can spend as little as 5 minutes in any of these apps and feel clearer and happier for the rest of the day.



P.S. I’ve been over at Brit+Co. making similar lists of my favorite things and talking about the app I can’t wait to try, tips for a rainy day wedding and how to never forget your passwords again.



Comfortably Uncomfortable

So if you know me IRL you’ll hear me talk a lot about my dad. He travels for work, and often times during a work trip will go eat at a restaurant alone. For a long time I thought this was crazy/weird/sad. Who would eat alone? Now, I do it all the time. I love it. Being alone in my apartment, or eating alone in a crowded restaurant, doesn’t bother me a bit. After some practice, I started to be able to stomach it and then, eventually, enjoy it.

It’s the art of being comfortably uncomfortable. And if it’s not something you’re willing to attempt and eventually master, chances are life is going to be mega hard for you.

We all have to learn how to be comfortably uncomfortable. Doing the uncomfortable thing, or being in an uncomfortable situation, is no one’s default or first choice. You probably felt it at some point in grade school or middle school, when you didn’t want to be a tattler but knew you should say something. Or in high school, when you got paired up in biology lab with the meanest mean girl of 10th grade and you had no choice but to work together.

The thing about college, though, and all those years afterward is that we are calling all the shots in our own lives. And more often times than not, that means choosing the comfortable option because no one is calling us on the carpet for it. No one is responsible for us but us…not our parents or teachers or coaches or mentors or whoever. We set our alarms, we set our calendars, and we either run through discomfort or away from it.

We usually choose to run away from it by eating with the friend who really just rambles about herself in lieu of eating (peacefully) alone. Or moving in with a so-so boyfriend because of this illusionary momentum and because you’re uncomfortable having a conversation about your future, or lack thereof, together. Skipping the work out. Going out with your friends because you’re uncomfortable verbalizing that, this week, your savings is more important than your bar tab. Letting your friend become your roommate when you know it’s just a bad move. Choosing to immediately enter grad school because the real world is too hard, unpredictable, too…uncomfortable…to face.

We all do it, but being aware when you’re making the comfortable decision just because it’s comfortable is a good place to start changing your choices for the better. With that awareness, you can begin making steps toward (and not away from) the uncomfortable choices…like making that cold call to your dream company, or breaking up, or moving in or moving away or moving on.

Now, I’m not saying go against your gut. Your gut is always right. But I am saying listen to your own mind when it’s trying to reason it’s way out of something that your gut and heart know is the right move. Then tell your mind to shut up. You can do it, whatever it is, even if it is uncomfortable.

It’s an art, and one we can all master.



The Defining Decade

A friend and former classmate called me to talk about her latest job interview and how it went. It was for a job she really wanted, the first job she would hold fresh out of graduation with her master’s degree.

“I think what will hold me back more than anything, even more than lacking experience, is my age,” she said. I took a deep sigh because, man, I’ve been there. Graduating college early (because you busted your ass) isn’t always the gold star you hoped it would be.

As millennials, we are constantly bombarded with labels and definitions for our generation. We are the “I” Generation, self-absorbed and entitled. Or, equally as often, I hear that I am “just a baby!” (doting older women love to say this, usually with a wave of their manicured hands) and I have “all the time in the world” to do anything I want to do. The message is that twentysomethings can’t do anything or – equally discouraging and debilitating – that twentysomethings can do anything and everything and have all the time in the world to do it. 

The hard bottom line is that neither message is true. I can explore and try out new things and take some chances. I cannot, however, afford to piss away my twenties in the name of fun and expect fully to wake up on my thirtieth birthday with a loving partner, a viable pregnancy, a spacious home which I own and the career of my choice. And neither can you.

If we (twentysomethings) want those things in our thirties, or before thirty, I have to take small and intentional steps today to get there.

If you are a twenty something going through the quarter life crisis, you’ll love “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Dr. Meg Jay. Dr. Jay specializes in the twentysomething years, and throughout the book addresses the major topics so many of her counseling clients struggle with: career, dating, money and fertility. These seem like big things, way off in the distance, things we don’t need to bother with now. But…We can’t get there tomorrow, or many tomorrows from now, without doing small things today.

“Twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plane is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest.”

What we do now determines whether or not our path to our final destination is a smooth one, or if we come barrel-rolling and crash landing at the last minute into those things we really want for ourselves: like romance, career, financial independance and a family.

It’s easy to put off thoughts of marriage or partnership, or a baby, or a career, or a retirement…it’s heavy stuff and we are forced to make big decisions at the most unstable time. How can we focus on what we want in a family (marriage? kids? no kids? roth IRA?!) when we are preoccupied with inconsiderate roommates and b-rate jobs we have to have in order to afford school. Which, by the way, we really need to study for.

Yes, it’s easy to justify this or that, or talk around the big things. But statistically, we don’t have that kind of time. Our twenties – all of it, from the stroke of midnight on our 20th birthday till the final minute of our 29th year – matter. Because, as Dr. Jay points out:

“Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens in the first ten years of a career. More than half of us are married, or dating, or living with our future partner, by age thirty. Personality changes more during our twenties than at any time before or after. The brain caps off its last growth spurt in the twenties. Female fertility peaks at age twenty-eight.”

Those are the scientific facts, things all doctors and psychologists and sociologists know to be true. Intially, that really scared me. Everything about this book scared me, and it will probably scare you. But it also allowed me to reexamine where this jet is headed, and also take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the great things about being a twentysomething: the excitement, the challenge, the opportunity of creating the life I want to live and love. This book, and this blog post, is a call to all twentysomthings: we matter. These years matter… Probably more so than any other decade of our lives.

If you feel stagnant, or unsure, or like your generally about to lose your cool because you’re so overwhelmed with decisions…Pick up this book. It’s probably going to make you sad, and angry, or even a little disappointed in yourself in certain areas. But you’re also bound to feel proud, too. And excited, and ready to pull out your map and throw some darts, to stake claims on the things you want in this life. And you’ll feel empowered to go out and get ’em.



PS – If you want to dive deeper into this topic, check out Dr. Jay’s TED Talk.  Share it with your friends, or parents, or kids…It’s a hard subject but, in my opinion, the most important conversation we can engage in as educators, parents, partners and a workforce.


photo credit for second image: martinteschner via photopin cc, text overlay by me.