Just when you’ve gotten into the flow of reviewing a report, a flicker catches your eye. It’s a new Slack message from your manager…
You’re texting a detailed message to a co-worker when a shocking news headline pops up on your phone…
Technology is good at distraction. In fact, some people, including former Google design ethicist Tristen Harris, argue that it’s designed to turn us into distraction addicts. This frenzied drive for attention increases our anxiety, which knocks down productivity. According to the American Psychological Association, one-fifth of Americans (18 percent) identify the use of technology as a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
And yet we can’t exactly avoid technology in the workplace. Instead, can we find ways to make it benefit our mental health? Multiple start-ups are banking on it, offering apps, virtual reality tools, and wearables that track, train, and transport users. The goal is greater mindfulness — that ideal state best defined as “living in the moment,” or being present without judgement or expectations.
Can tech do it? If you want to give it a try, here are three categories in which technology is aiming to aid mindfulness, even in the workplace:
1. Apps for Mindfulness
Work, almost by definition, involves the sort of repetitive tasks that send us into a distracted trance. Can we use technology to disrupt the routine?
- The Stop, Breathe & Think app for Slack sends participants a daily meditation session.
- The IoS app Moment tracks how much time you spend using your iPhone or iPad and allows you to set daily limits.
- Meditation apps such as Buddhify and Headspace provide pocket mindfulness anywhere, anytime.
2. Virtual Reality Immersion
Finding it difficult to concentrate with just audio aids? Try immersing yourself in a visual setting through VR. Studies show that immersion in VR evokes the same physiological reactions as the real world. A VR beach is a beach.
3. Wearables for Wellness
Wearable technology most commonly comes in the form of a wristband such as the Fitbit. Fitbit’s app, Relax, works with the device’s heart rate tracker to provide a personalized guided breathing session. The Apple Watch has a similar app, called Breathe.
Some companies are working to incorporate biosensors into with a virtual reality environment. JunoVR, for example, is working on integrating controlled breathing in the VR environment through a thermistor sensor.
All this talk of future biosensors stressing you out?