In my “Megan Recommends” blog series I share with you things I have been loving lately, whether they be computer applications, movies, cooking tools, etc. In this instalment, I share with you some items that have been helping me calm my busy, often anxious, mind. If you need a little help with relaxing, maybe they will help you, too!
My big fancy day planner:
I tried using multiple different apps and calendars on my computer and phone to keep myself organized, plan my days, and get my ideas down, but I just wasn’t sticking with them and everything was just staying in my head. But, trying to keep all my plans and to-do lists in my head was not working so great either 😐
In comes a big and pretty planner! I went to Michael’s and purchased an actual paper planner (just like the good old days) and started using it to plan my weeks. My planner is a Happy Planner, which is a large line of planners with matching accessories (such as stickers, washi tape, and folders). I got my planner in July and it is for a year and a half (and are probably on sale now!), but you can also get ones that start in January and are for just a year.
The planners are pretty and functional on their own, so you don’t need all the ad-ons, but if they inspire you, then go for it! There are some folks out there that make absolutely beautiful planners – they really are works of art – but for me, just writing in the planner is enough of an investment. On Etsy you can find artists selling their own handmade planner accessories, such as stickers and bookmarks, so you can really make your planner unique. My friend Krystle of Heartsprinkle has started making some really adorable bee ones!
The Headspace app:
Headspace is a meditation app for your computer or phone. Now, don’t get scared away by the word “meditation”. This isn’t your stereotypical chanting, incense burning, cross-legged, gong banging meditation, but a down to earth, daily, mind calming practice for everyone.
I have always liked the idea of meditating and thought maybe it would help my anxious monkey mind, but could never get into the habit of practising it daily – plus I always felt a little awkward doing it. But Andy Puddicombe, the creator and voice behind Headspace, makes meditation accessible to anyone. You can watch him talk about it in his TED talk.
The app gives you 10 free guided meditations that are just 10 minutes long, the first stepping stones to getting into the habit and learning what meditation is all about. Then you can subscribe to gain access to a variety of different guided meditations with different themes and lengths.
The app has cute little cartoon characters that star in short videos that guide you along in understanding the concepts of meditation, making the concepts easier to grasp, understand, and actually implement. Plus, you can have the app send you reminders each day to practice, as well as follow and encourage other friends who are enjoying the app with you. I highly recommend at least giving it a try and testing out those first 10 free sessions for yourself.
My gym membership:
Growing up I danced several times a week at a dance studio. I did tap, jazz, ballet, and modern. I was super active for hours each week. Then I went to university and I continued to take dance classes, as well as gym classes such as step class and kick boxing. I remained really active. Then I finished school and didn’t have access to a gym anymore, and the cardio sort of ended. I didn’t have that outlet of energy, that break from being stationary, anymore. Walking a lot wasn’t enough, I needed to sweat and get my heart pumping again! So I joined the YMCA (a popular gym found throughout North America).
I don’t enjoy running around a track or on a treadmill, or even running around the woods. I like to do cardio that makes me think, that has choreography, that gives me no choice but to think about the exercise, otherwise I would get totally lost. When walking or running my mind wanders (even when listening to a podcast or audiobook). So when I go to the Y, I am always there for a class with an instructor. Classes such as step or Zumba (a dance fitness class) keep me so engaged I am more mindful of the activity and my brain gets a break from my usual thoughts. There are of course the many physical benefits of exercise, but I actually started going to the gym again because I noticed a change in my mental state when I wasn’t going. If you also struggle with an overly anxious body or mind, give the gym a try, especially the super fun dance classes – everyone looks silly doing them, but everyone is focused on themselves anyway, so let loose!
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