This is a guest post compiled by John Salazar for Shelaf.com 

You’ve likely wished for a “break” at some point in your life - a day where you can just lie down in bed, or have a nice cup of coffee, or not do any work. And then you reach said day, you finally let go of your phone… only for a notification to appear. And another, and another. Before you know it, the day’s over, and you haven’t gotten that “rest” that you needed. Is it the fault of your smartphone? Probably. Is it the fault of our dependence on technology? Maybe. The thing is, technology can be as good or as bad as we make it out to be. And when it comes to achieving peak relaxation, technology can in fact help us relax when we need a break.

Resting With Tech: How Can You Use Tech to Get a Breather?
Tech today has mixed reactions from users across all walks of life. Others don’t really like technology, especially when it comes to “taking breaks.” Holding a smartphone introduces us to the busy world of social media - where notifications, likes, and comments rule. It’s hard to “calm down,” when all that social media apps do is force us to check our notifications, right? What if we take this perspective and flip it upside down - and see exactly how technology can help us when we take breaks? Turns out, given the right direction, we can use tech to help us relax in the best way possible. Here are some methods:

1. Start with your basic massaging tools. If you find yourself wanting to get a massage but lacking the tools to do so, you might want to go out and buy some massaging tools for your household. Taking advantage of these tools can help you experience the many benefits of massage, especially when it comes to loosening strained muscles. These tools range from small monitoring devices, portable massaging devices, to actually machines that target the whole body for a more complete experience.

  • If you don’t have the money to go to a massage artist, you can always buy massagers in the form of pillows, belts, and even handheld devices. These vary in prices, and can come in different sizes. You can also go for bulkier and more expensive massage chairs as well. 
  • Aside from conventional massage tools, you can actually find cheaper devices that help you keep better track of your stress levels. The Stress Thermometer (USD 21.95) can measure your finger’s temperature and help figure out if you’re tense (cold) or relaxed (warm). Likewise, the  Stress Squares (USD 13.55) are adhesives you can attach to cards that do the same thing. 
  • You can actually spend a bit of money on more technical and sophisticated tools for your relaxation. For instance, Muse is a headset with a brain-wave biofeedback device. This USD 249-device might seem costly, but a lot of people claim Muse has helped them meditate better. The device gives users feedback depending on the brain waves they emit, which Muse tracks. Alternatively, emWave2 is a USD 199 handheld device that can measure your heartbeat and gives feedback on your heart rate.

2. Make use of apps for meditation. Meditation is perhaps one of the most popular methods of relaxation out there - primarily because it does more than just help us “relax.” When we do mindful meditation, we help our minds be more grounded to what’s happening around us. This is helpful if we want to calm down from a stressful day or reflect on things that we want to think about. It’s more than just “breathing in and out from a lotus position,” though. And for people who don’t have the time to read books or watch tutorials, mindful meditation might seem out of reach. However, there’s actually a ton of apps out there that we can use to achieve mindful meditation - or meditation in general.
  • There are a ton of free meditation apps you can use to maximize your meditative experience. For instance, The Mindfulness App has different meditation options you can use to your advantage - such as silent meditations, timed guided meditations, and introductory guided meditations. These sessions range from three (3) to 30 minutes depending on your schedule.  
  • You can take advantage of paid apps to maximize the benefits of mindful meditation. For instance, apps like Headspace and Calm offer various options for mindful meditation you can customize and tailor to your experience. Both apps offer a few days of free trial to let you experience some of their offerings, and then paid versions (Headspace and Calm start with monthly payments of USD 12.95 and USD 9.99, respectively). All of these include various exercises and techniques you can use to alleviate stress. 

3. Get to know your mental health better. We have no control over what happens to us every day, and we have no control over our initial reactions to things. However, we do have the capacity to take a breather and understand how we feel about things around us. When we’re in situations we can only describe as “chaotic,” being in tune with ourselves can be helpful to formulate better decisions in life and with people around us. Some apps actually encourage us to keep track of our mood as well as other parts of our mental state in order to help us get to know ourselves better. All of these features, as well as insightful analytical nuggets, can actually be accessed from our phones.
  • Psychologists and experts actually work on various apps that make it easy for people to be more in tune with their mental health concerns. For instance, SAM (Self-help for Anxiety Management) was developed by Bristol’s University of the West of England to provide people with databases, mood tracking, and methods and techniques to help alleviate anxiety. Meanwhile, Pacifica helps users track thoughts and moods, daily goals, and stress alleviation through its many offerings.
  • Aside from these apps, you can actually rely on other tools to help you build a more efficient and stress-free environment. For instance, Pplkpr (People Keeper) is a handy app that has a wristband component. You can use this to scroll through your contacts and check which of these helps you feel happy, angry, or tense. You can then have the option of removing them from your list.
  • Aside from actual apps, you can also take the time to download reading apps and buy e-books on meditation and relaxation. This gets rid of the need to buy physical books, and instead have a good time reading in your device. You can take this up a notch and even listen to audiobooks.

4. Enjoy a game or two by yourself, or with friends. Always remember that just because you want to relax and enjoy your break doesn’t mean you can’t have fun anymore. You can always open your console and your PC to play a couple of games by yourself or with your friends. Taking the time to play videogames, especially multiplayer, can improve not just your social skills, but lets you learn how to better coordinate with other people. Playing games by yourself also allows you to be “in the zone,” and activate your unconscious mind into slowly helping you solve some problems you’ve encountered over the course of the day.
  • Consider playing online games during breaks just to give you a quick “rest” from a few hours’ worths of work. Games like Madalin Stunt Cars 3 and other online racing games can be quick but adrenaline-filled experiences that can jolt you awake and ready for another round of work.
  • You can actually scour app stores for free casual games that can jumpstart your brain’s thinking process but still keep you relaxed. These include board games like chess and sudoku, as well as puzzle games you can play anytime, anywhere.
  • Likewise, you can also opt for full multiplayer experiences in MMOs like World of Warcraft and other multiplayer games like Overwatch and The Division. These can help amp up the heat and give you and your friends challenges you can enjoy. If you’re with a group of friends you really like, these can be fun sessions.

5. Tech and Recreation: Let Your Inner Techie Take Over
Who says it’s impossible to use technology to your advantage during downtime? Whenever you feel the need to rest and take a break - be it from work, from school, or from life in general - you can rely on your smartphone and the gadgets with you to make every minute of your break worthwhile. And while studies do show that excessive use of technology can be harmful, we can use tech to help us achieve the best kind of relaxation - especially considering today’s very busy times. Hopefully, the above tips have given you a heads up as to how you can make sure your smartphone, or virtually any gadget, can be your best friend next time you take a relaxing day off.

This post was written by John Salazar, he is a certified techie-at-heart, but he shares a love for all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side. As a creative writer, John makes sure to write both informative and entertaining pieces. He loves writing, and he plays the guitar when he has free time.

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