Are you Prepared?

Full Spectrum Health Gadget Gives Whole Picture of Your Well Being December 8, 2016

Nearly 40 million people used wearable devices to track their fitness and movement this year. Devices like the fitbit make it easy to determine calories expended and help you maintain or reach your fitness goals. If you are one of those people who does not find the idea of tracking your every move paranoia inducing (and storing it in the cloud, no less!), you might want to consider Spire, a new product meant to address the mental side of your health.

The makers of Spire believe fitness is comprised of both mind and body and that being healthy is about more than exercising and eating well. True health, according to those at Spire, means having clarity, control, and inner peace.

What is Spire?

Spire is a wearable device (it clips onto your pants or bra) that offers the same movement features as other activity trackers on the market but with the addition of sensors that monitor how you react to stress. Our bodies are constantly giving physical cues that indicate our mental state, such as increased or shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, and perspiration. Spire picks up on these cues and alerts you in real time so that you can adjust your behavior and reduce the effects of stress.

For example, if you are in a meeting with your boss and things are not going well, you might feel a little vibration from your Spire. A notification on your phone (which synchs to Spire) will indicate that your heart rate is increasing and that you need to breathe deeply. It sounds almost too simple, but researchers say correcting the physical effects of stress allows us to better tackle the mental effects, even in the heat of the moment.

And this goes for situations that you don’t even know are stressful, like driving on highways or talking with certain people. The creators of Spire hope that by becoming aware of how our bodies are reacting at any given moment, we can create a positive feedback loop and get relief from stress. Breathing is literally the only automatic function in our bodies that we also have control over. How you breathe sets up how you feel, and vice versa.

How does it relieve stress?

The main way that Spire works, like other fitness wearables, is by tracking and accumulating information that we are too busy or unable to track ourselves. Sensors detect your breathing and respiratory movement, including the depth of each individual breath. Advanced algorithms allow the device to make sense of your breathing patterns based on multiple laboratory studies that show links between respiration patterns and emotional states. In addition, Spire is customizable and able to tweak and reinterpret the data it receives over time (“stressed” for you is different than “stressed” for someone else).

Because Spire is always tuned in to your behavior, it also serves as a monitor during times of calm and focus. Looking at your data and recalling moments of peace, contentment, and clarity can allow you to reproduce these results at a later time.

How much is it?

I was very surprised to see that Spire costs just $99, considerably less than many other wearable fitness trackers. Considering the fact that Spire still tracks steps and calories expended in addition to the other respiration tracking capabilities, it seems that people in the market for this type of device might benefit from having a look at Spire. It may not be an overnight cure-all for stress, but those interested in “body hacking” may find it’s a welcome tool for providing a more complete picture of the whole self.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 8th, 2016
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How A “Drop-Everything” Day Can Revolutionize Your Productivity December 5, 2016

We live in a heavily connected world and most of us are skilled multi-taskers. The advent of the smart phone means I’ve ordered groceries while waiting in line at the DMV and I’ve made a voice memo while driving a car full of kids to little league. Most of us do more than one thing at a time, so the idea of doing nothing at all seems downright lazy. But some of the most productive and creative thinkers of our generation have one thing in common: they regularly drop everything to do nothing at all.

Stress is on the Rise

According to the American Institute of Stress, absences from work due to burnout are rising, with large corporations losing as much as $3.5 million per year due to this. From Steve Jobs to Albert Einstein to Marie Curie, scheduling solitary “do-nothing” days has proven to be exceedingly beneficial. Not only is dropping everything good for business, there is a wealth of medical and emotional advantages to this type of relaxation. It sounds crazy, but having a “drop-everything” day once a month or so can make a huge difference in your quality of life and your productivity.

How to Drop Everything

This isn’t about scheduling a trip to Tahiti or a yoga class. If you’ve ever felt stressed or overworked, it can be tempting to make your “me-time” a drink, a television show, or a formal vacation. But dropping everything means exactly what it sounds like. It’s a day where you do absolutely nothing. It sounds counterintuitive to “plan” for nothing, but here’s how you do it:

Step 1

Put it in the calendar: It’s much harder to be protective of your time when you’re dropping everything, but you need to make this activity known as an event—to yourself, and to others around you. If an entire “drop-everything” day isn’t possible for you, try setting aside at least 4 hours.

Step 2

Disconnect: No phones, no friends, no computer, no television, no work, no play, no sleeping. This day is about reflecting, thinking, hoping, and planning (but no to-do lists!). It’s amazing how removing your go-to distractions can change the way your mind works.

Step 3

Pay attention: You might choose to wander around somewhere outside. You might sit in a comfortable chair. Wherever you end up, make it a point to observe and notice your environment. We spend so much time rushing from one thing to the next we often forget to truly see the world around us.

Step 4

Note your desires: Once you’ve quieted the noise of your commitments and obligations, see where your thoughts go. Often, breakthroughs and new insights occur when we have solitude. See what themes keep cropping up and follow the trails of thought. This phase can be extremely uncomfortable for some people who are not used to being alone with their thoughts, but clearing the mind is like working out a muscle—it gets easier over time.

Step 5

Don’t rush it: You might think you’ve had enough nothing at an hour or two and you might start to feel guilty. Fight this! The biggest revelations often occur long after we’ve grown tired of “practicing” nothing.

Of course, the thing about doing nothing is that it eventually turns into something very meaningful. Some might call the above exercise “mindfulness” or meditation, but it helps me to think about simply clearing my mind. Successful people everywhere have engaged in these types of habits for years, so why not give it a try? You literally have nothing to lose!

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 5th, 2016
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