Thrive App: Your Mini Mindfulness Coach in Your Pocket

There is a growing interest in taking a holistic approach to productivity. Each year more and more working professionals and business owners are seeking out ways to implement a greater focus on mental health and spiritual wellness in the workplace.  Employee rest areas, yoga sessions, meditation classes, and kitchens that are always stocked with various teas and organic snacks all signal a remarkable shift from the traditional brick-and-mortar, 9 to 5 job setting in the U.S.
While some workplaces are making a greater effort to create an environment that nurtures the “whole” employee, many others have yet to join the revolution. For people who do not find themselves having regular access to an employer-sponsored wellness and productivity program, Thrive UK has created an app that may be a very affordable alternative for millions of people.

Exploring the Link Between Mindfulness and Productivity

There are several components of a person’s well-being that can have a direct impact on the individual’s level of productivity. The body uses food as fuel; therefore, diet influences a person’s energy level as well as his or her ability to concentrate and focus for extended periods of time. Rest is essential to health and performance. Consequently, a lack of sleep can quickly diminish workplace performance. Stress and anxiety can also have a negative impact on a person’s work and home life. Finally, one of the most often overlooked aspects of productivity and performance is mindset. The Thrive App utilizes soothing music with ocean sound effects in combination with various exercises and helpful tips to bring peace, optimism, and balance to the most critical areas of the user’s life.

Mental Health and Wellness Monitoring on Demand

Upon logging into the Thrive app, the user is greeted and immediately offered a practical tip for managing stress, easing anxiety, or simply shifting to a more positive mindset. Next, the app asks the user to rate his or her mood on a color scale. Mood tracking can be helpful to anyone, especially to those who are experiencing anxiety or depression. Tracking moods can help the individual remain connected to his or her emotions in addition to detecting any concerning or unusual changes in the overall mental state. Next, the app asks the user to identify specific events that may have led to his or her current mood, whether negative or positive. Reflecting and considering the connection to certain events that may have triggered a particular mood can be helpful, particularly when a person is experiencing a negative emotion and has difficulty identifying the exact root cause.

Mind and Body Activity Recommendations

Upon receiving feedback on the user’s mood, the program then assigns three daily goals that are recommended activities to help maintain a healthy mental state and, if necessary, to improve a bad mood. Examples include 30 minutes to an hour of a specified physical exercise, breathing activities, self suggestion, deep muscle relaxation, and an impressive collection of meditation strategies that leverage sound, smell, and the power of imagination. The user may set notifications to serve as a reminder to complete the prescribed activities throughout the day. Each time the user logs in, the app will ask the user to indicate which activities he or she has completed since the previous session.  In addition to the daily recommended activities, Thrive also includes a collection of games that provide a healthy distraction when the user needs to unwind.

In-App Games

At any time, users may swipe over to Zen Island, which is the Thrive app’s virtual destination for games and recreation. Zen Challenge requires the player to draw paths to connect two objects on a plane while navigating through a series of obstacles and hoops. Wise Words teaches the participant to focus on positive words by identifying them within an assortment of jumbled letters that are displayed on a grid. Those who are feeling creative may choose to design their own zen garden in Zen Island’s sand.

Conclusion

The Thrive App is packed with valuable resources that can help virtually anyone increase self-awareness and practice mindfulness in ways that can have a very real and positive impact on overall health and productivity. Even occasional use can help a person relax and even avoid an oncoming episode of mild tension or anxiety. Like virtually any health tool, the Thrive app should be used regularly to produce lasting results and to realize more substantial improvement.

Thrive is a subscription-based app available for £4.99/month, £14.97 for a three-month subscription, or £47.88/year, which translates to approximately $8/month, $21/quarterly, or $67/annually.

Thrive UK has graciously provided a FREE access code for my readers. Click HERE to request your free subscription to the Thrive app.

Organizing Your Life 201: Getting Organized to Go to Work – Winding Down at Night for a Better Morning

Rolanda L. continues the OranizeU series by discussing the importance of properly winding down at night to prepare to be more positive and productive the following day.

For many of us, getting out the door and arriving at work on time is one of the greatest challenges we face in a day. Nevertheless, the process of transitioning from home to professional life is also one of the most important tasks we have each day.

The Significance of a Good “Launch”

Leaving the comforts of home to interact with the world outside is a process that is not to be taken lightly. In fact, the morning routine is more analogous to a daily “launch” in contrast to the way many of us typically view our mornings: as a mundane process through we we drag ourselves from our place of comfort to a place of obligation.

Good and bad days both begin with how we prepare for the hours we will spend way from home (or in the home office for those who work from home; that is a separate post entirely). We could even go one step further and say the outcome of the following day is frequently influenced by the preparatory measures we take the night before. These measures may include getting enough sleep, finishing a work assignment the night before OR going to bed early enough to allow yourself time to comfortably prepare the next morning. Therefore, spacing and proximity are critical considerations when planning an effective schedule; a well-planned and executed schedule will consistently lead to better days overall.

Getting Started 

In crafting a morning routine that is most conducive to having the best day possible, the process begins with the here and now. First, think about all your pain points and struggles that regularly occur in the morning: do you you sift through closets and drawers to find the right clothes to wear? Do you skip breakfast and have difficulty concentrating or later resort to eating unhealthy snacks? Do you simply not feel like getting out of bed and, as a result, hit the snooze button too many times? Next, think about the most frequent reasons you may experience a bad day at work: are you too tired to peacefully coexist with an annoying supervisor or coworker? Do you simply not enjoy what you do for work? Do you miss deadlines or feel unprepared when required to complete assignments? Do you lack energy by the end of the work day? Believe it or not, each of these situations may be remedied by investing a little energy up front to execute effective schedule planning and by tweaking your morning routine.

Planning for Improved Logistics

Factors such as getting adequate sleep, getting dressed, having breakfast, and arriving at work on time are all part of the logistics of a successful morning “launch.” Thinking in terms of launching a space shuttle, the support teams don’t haphazardly drag the rocket out to the launchpad and lean it against the platform. A considerable amount of prep work takes place prior to a shuttle launch. Similarly, a well-executed start to your day will also require a degree of preparation.

Because logistical components like showering, dressing, and eating are largely based on effective time management, remedying related issues is somewhat of a straightforward process. Ensuring you have enough time to include each of these important components of your morning depends heavily on creating a schedule that realistically works for you. If you are unsure of where to get started with creating an effective schedule, see Organize U Lesson 103 for an example.

Getting Enough Sleep

To most people, a reminder on the necessity of getting enough sleep may sound cliche. However, ensuring adequate sleep the night before sets the tone for a more peaceful, productive morning, which is more likely to lead to a better day. Getting enough sleep starts with a plan. As discussed in Lesson 103, I highly recommend creating  a chart and dividing a 24-hour day into 15-minute increments. Using the time you are scheduled to leave work as a starting point, think about how you currently spend each 15-minute period from then until the time you typically got to bed. Then look for opportunities to optimize your afternoon and evening schedule to allow you to get to bed at a reasonable hour. This may require eating out less, spending less time at happy hour, or simply ending television-watching 15 to 30 minutes early to signal your body and brain to enter wind-down mode and fall asleep more easily at the preferred hour.

Crafting the Perfect Wind-Down

Speaking of sleep, many of us have difficulty getting there because we expect our bodies to go from full speed to an immediate stop. While there may be medical and deeply psychological causes that may prevent a person from getting to sleep at night, insomnia is also often caused by lack of an effective pre-bed time routine. For this reason, we must plan a “wind down” period into our nightly schedule. The components of an effective wind down will vary from person to person. Therefore, each individual must think about environmental factors that will help him or her relax. In general, relaxing in a comfortable setting with dim lighting and no electronics will help most people “unplug” from the digital world before going to bed. During this time, lighting candles, reading a book, and/or listening to music are favorable activities. Those who find baths relaxing may wish to use this time to bathe in warm water scented with lavender. Individuals who suffer from muscle tension or other physical ailments may find it beneficial to apply a scented heating pad or other therapeutic treatments to help reduce tension and pain prior to attempting to sleep.

The objective of the wind down period is to focus on calming sights, sounds, and smells to shift the mind from work responsibilities and other stressors to a place in which both mind and body can rest through the remainder of the night. Those who have difficulty shifting their thoughts may find it beneficial to repeatedly remind themselves that all work, personal, and social responsibilities will be there when they wake up the following day and may be addressed in due time. Moreover, an individual who has a well-rested mind and body is more capable of  finding and implementing solutions than one who is exhausted in both mind and body. After winding down, proceed directly to bed, allowing an extra 15 minutes prior to the scheduled bed time to actually fall asleep.

The next lesson will discuss setting the tone for the a successful, less stressful day by creating an efficient and enjoyable morning routine.

 

Organizing Your Life 101: Getting Organized for a Good Night’s Sleep

There is a subset of people who describe themselves as “very disorganized” and generally feel the need to start completely from scratch when attempting to bring order to their lives. For individuals who relate to this sentiment, I recommend the idea of gradually creating structure. The key is to do so in a manner that does not feel “confining.” Keeping track of the changes you are implementing and recording their effects will help you determine if your new system is truly beneficial and whether further adjustments are required.

The Importance of the Wake-Up

For many people, a critical point of origin on their road to getting organized may be simply defining a set time to wake up each morning. Waking up at the same time has a way of defining and setting the tone for most other activities that take place throughout the day. On the first few mornings of adhering to a new establishing a wake-up time, a person who regularly stays up too late will likely notice the negative effects of not getting enough sleep. The wake-up time can be adjusted, but the person will eventually realize that waking up later may result in limited time to do other things. Therefore, setting a static wake-up time is the also the first step to learning effective time management.

Setting a Bedtime

Once a person finds a wake-up time that allows for completing all planned activities while still feeling rested, the next natural step is to set a nightly bedtime. This is the time at which all daily activities have been completed in addition to a bedtime routine (i.e. showering, changing clothes, and perhaps even having a few moments of quiet time to mentally and emotionally shift gears to prepare for sleep). Like setting a wake-up time, choosing the best time to go to bed may also require trial and error. However, if you are recording the effects your new wake-up time is having on your energy level, it will likely be more apparent when you generally feel the need to sleep.

Creating a Foundation for Better Time Management

For many, establishing the right nightly time frame for sleep can be a giant leap toward organizing the hours during which they are awake. Planning and getting into the routine of an established wake-up and bedtime will help set the tone for a good night’s sleep. However, if health factors make sleeping more difficult, seeking and following the advice of a medical practitioner is advisable. The next post in the OrganizeU series will focus on developing better time management during the daytime and evening hours for improved energy and optimal productivity.

 

Getting Organized to Go Back to School: The Organized Lunch (Plastic-Free Edition)

Lunch is an important a child’s school day. Rolanda L. offers product recommendations to help parents encourage healthy, eco-friendly eating habits for children who attend school.

Nowadays in the United States, bento boxes are on every store’s shelves in the food storage aisle. Derived from 5th century Japan, the bento box has long been an effective means of organizing and packing a lunch and taking it on the go. Today’s Western bento box is available in a variety of materials, most commonly plastic. Fortunately for those who are attempting to reduce or eliminate household plastics due to health or environment concerns, bento boxes can be found in more stable materials. In addition to bento boxes, you will also find plastic-free utensils, water bottles, and neoprene eco-friendly, insulating lunch bags that can be used for packing lunches.  All items are relatively affordably priced, especially considering the ease of cleaning in a dishwasher without fear of the material leeching, melting, or becoming warped.

Made from a more traditional material, this wood bento box is microwave safe.

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Stainless Steel Bento Boxes – avoid microwaving

200-Pack of Wooden Disposable Forks  (only $15.95!)

Silicone Snack Containers!

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

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Neoprene and Other Eco-Friendly Lunch Bags

Neoprene – purportedly keeps food hot or cold for up to four hours

Insulated Reusable Tyvek Brown Bag

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Thermal Insulated Aluminum Foil and Pearl Cotton Bag