Large changes to the way we work are having an effect on a high percentage of people at the moment; methods to help us deal with these changes and the effects they have on our mental health are in the spotlight right now.
There is a plethora of useful apps out there, some of which we’ll be covering in the following weeks, but this week we’ll be looking at some more of the features of the Calm app and service.
Last week we went into a bit of detail about how the app includes a library of sounds, music and even stories to aid relaxation and sleep. However, these resources can also be incredibly useful for concentration in a lockdown situation – white noise or relaxing sounds or music can take the place of office buzz. While it might seem a strange thing to miss, many people work better with some kind of (quiet) background noise or music, and working in silence can seem unsettling and somewhat alien.
One of the reasons for to music or sounds improving mood, focus and concentration is that listening often triggers the release of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which in small amounts can be beneficial to concentration, as they are the feel-good chemicals in the brain – the better and more relaxed you feel, the more focus you’ll have and the more productive you’ll be. There are a large enough variety of playlists and sounds in the app that it’s likely that there will be something to help. Of course, some people will still find more success working in silence (or with as little background noise as possible), but if you’re struggling for concentration, Calm’s extensive sound library may be worth a try.
An interesting feature of both Calm’s browser-based and its regular iOS and Android apps is the option to set a “scene” for when the device or window is idle. If you work with multiple monitors, or have a separate display or device that’s not in use, you can set it to display an animated scene of your choice, complete with sound effects. It’s a bit like the screensavers of eld, but more customisable – and it can help to give you something to refocus your mind if you find your concentration slipping.
Reminders are helpful when not working around others – especially for the kind of person who forgets their lunch break or forgets to drink water (we all know someone!), or for keeping tracks of important tasks. These can all be accomplished on smart devices or computers, but Calm’s reminders are of a different type. They can remind you to take a few moments to take your eyes away from the screen, relax, stretch, take a few deep breaths, and so on. There are also short guided meditations, which at only a minute or two in length are suitable even for those with a busy schedule.
There is a variety of non-music content on Calm’s platform to suit a variety of moods and tastes. Some of these are “Masterclass” content, which are in the same vein as TED talks. They can help you learn in depth about a topic; breaking bad habits, overcoming fear of flying, sleeping better, eating issues and increasing self-confidence to name but a few. There are also courses, which are similar but designed in episodic format to be listened to over a period of days (or whatever schedule you feel suitable).
Next week we’ll be having a look at how organisations can offer Calm as a benefit to their staff, how some businesses use Calm to help improve their employees’ mental fitness, and the benefits of doing so.