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The Headspace app is great. Who knew a few years ago you'd be able to use your phone or watch for guided meditation?
However, your Apple Watch can allow you to be more mindful beyond these great meditation and breathing apps.
My personal goal is to live as intentionally as possible. Be in the moment. Focus on the now. But the battle between technology and mindfulness is constant.
We're drawn to our phones when we hear the familiar dings and bleeps. We whip out our devices from our pockets when we feel the vibrations. We're all guilty of feeling a phantom vibration, too: where we think we feel a notification coming through, but when we grab our phones to check it, there's no notification at all (but then we get lost in the rabbit hole of scrolling through Instagram anyway).
Even through my social media ban and doing my best to turn notifications off, I'm still drawn to my phone. (In fact, I think turning off notifications is causing me to check my phone more because I need to open the app to see if there's any new activity.)
For all of these reasons, I struggled with my decision to purchase the Apple Watch.
My mantra is usually "I want to be more mindful and disconnect myself from technology." So buying a device that brings the internet to your wrist seems very counter-intuitive.
However, I made a lot of changes to the default settings of the watch, and I make conscious decisions on how to use my watch and my phone.
Here are all the ways an Apple Watch can help you be more mindful, too!
Breathing and meditation apps for Apple Watch
One of the default apps for the Apple Watch is the breathing app. This app reminds you to take breaks throughout the day and stop what you're doing to take a quick deep-breathing break.
Meditation apps like Headspace allow you to go through your guided meditation program on the go.
But the Apple Watch can do so much more for intentional living!
Beyond the Headspace app: change your Apple Watch Settings to be more mindful
You can use your brand spankin' new Apple Watch to be more mindful in every aspect of your life, not just when you carve out the precious 10-15 minutes for meditation with an app for guidance.
Turn off unwanted notifications
Just like with your phone, you can turn off specific notifications for your watch. Out of the box, the Apple Watch has quite a few built-in notifications, which can be very annoying.
On your iPhone, find the Watch app and turn off notifications for everything you don't need to know about right away.
I turned off notifications for:
- Reminders to do deep breathing
- Reminders to stand or move*
- Accomplishments for moving with the activity rings*
- Notifications that my friends finished a run (Nike Plus app)
- Email, Twitter, and other similar apps
*I should mention the activity notifications are helpful if you truly need reminders to get up and move around, or if you're considering buying the watch to help you meet your fitness or weight loss goals. But otherwise, they can be overwhelming.
On my phone, text notifications are completely turned off. No buzz, no ding, no notification on the lock screen (except if you're my parent, my daycare lady, or my future husband).
However: I do keep text notifications on my watch, because sometimes I'll be off the grid for so long that I'll miss something that's actually important. (The sound is off; I just get a gentle tap on my wrist when I get a text.)
If I want to focus, or if I want to relax, I will turn these notifications off as well.
Turn on do not disturb and theater mode
Do not disturb is your friend. On the watch home screen, swipe up from the bottom and hit the little moon. This will stop all haptic notifications.
The notification-free zone is beautifully peaceful.
While we're on this control panel screen, I should also mention that turning on the theater mode (the little theater mask buddies), is also going to help you be more mindful.
By default, the watch will light up every time you raise your arm or go to check your wrist. When this happens, you might be drawn to a "new text" notification that you might've otherwise ignored.
Bonus: turning theater mode on helps save battery life.
Change your relationship with your iPhone becacuse of the Apple Watch
Your watch helps you stay more connected because you have a lot of the phone functionality attached to your arm: calendar notifications, Apple Pay, etc.
Because of this, you can disconnect from your phone and find peace in not having your phone weigh down your pants or be permanently attached to your left hand.
Leave your phone in your bag
If you're walking or are otherwise occupied, say, at dinner with your friends or significant other, you're now free to leave your phone in your bag.
Studies show that phone use during social events diminish the experience of personal connections both for the phone user and for the other folks.
Even having the phone resting on the table in front of you can screw up the experience, because the anticipation that a notification will push through threatens the integrity of the interaction.
Leave your phone in your bag, or out of sight completely.
Completely leave your phone behind
If you are able, leave your phone home.
This is a lot easier if you have the cellular watch; as a mom and a woman I feel much safer leaving my phone at home or in the car knowing I have the ability to call or text for help from my watch if I need to.
There are a lot of potential objections here, so let's explore the reasons people don't want to ditch (or hide) their phones.
"But what if I'm waiting for an important text?"
Keep text notifications on your watch. As soon as you get the text, put your watch back on do not disturb.
"But what if I get an emergency call?"
On your phone, you can change the settings so calls from your "Favorite" contacts will push through. The same will happen on your watch, even if you have do not disturb turned on.
"But then I can't take photos!"
Okay. This is one of the biggest issues I've had with leaving my phone behind.
The great news is: your memories will serve you. Instead of going to the default of whipping your phone out to take a picture, stop what you're doing, take a beat, and focus intently on the object, incident, or people.
By doing this, you'll allow yourself to be in the moment—way more so than if you're busy trying to take the perfect photo.
And if you really want to take a picture of something? Chances are one of your friends is already snapping a photo of it.
My favorite Apple Watch hack: dictation
I can't tell you the number of times I've been out on one of my morning walks and had a great idea.
- Blog post ideas
- Solutions for complicated coding problems
- Marketing hacks for Chris's and others' businesses
- Working out an interpersonal problem in my brain
- Writing ideas
- Things I forgot previously
One of the things I love about the watch? The ability to dictate. I pick up my wrist, tap the face to wake it up, and then say, "Hey Siri, remind me to text Chris about my local SEO idea for his business" or whatever comes to mind. Then when I get back to a computer, I do those things.
All in all, the Apple Watch is a huge win for me and living intentionally.
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The purchase could've been a disaster, with pings and buzzes happening every few minutes.
With a few simple tweaks and habit changes, I'm enhancing my life with the Apple Watch. I now have an improved relationship with technology: it is a tool and not my boss.
Do you have an Apple Watch? How has it affected your life? How do you stay mindful with technology?