In my other role as a social media specialist, I was fortunate enough to attend Social Media Week London. Naturally I was drawn to the session called 'Success, Stress and Staying Sane: How to Keep the Balance'. Increasingly I've being using mindfulness to combat the always-on lifestyle that my job demands and was impressed that SMW London had the foresight to spot this growing trend.
The panel included Vikki Bates from Unplugged Weekend, whose company confiscates digital junkies' smartphones for a couple of days while treating them to a dose of nature and meditation.
But is tech always bad for you? After all, three people on the panel were pedalling wellbeing apps. Rohan Gunatillake of Buddhify explained how tech and wellbeing aren't enemies. And believes we're well on the way to creating tech - and running companies - with wellbeing in mind.
David Cox from Headspace described his app as 'meditation for people who don't meditate.' What's appealing about both Buddhify and Headspace is that they make mindfulness accessible by breaking it into bite-sized chunks. Buddhify in particular offers you the opportunity to meditate as you wander around the city - a new take on the lunch break. So meditation has moved from being 30 minutes sitting in lotus position to something more compatible with today's frenetic lifestyle. Rohan predicts there will be all sorts of moving mindfulness practices in future, right now we are in the nascent stages.
One observation that I found really valuable was the idea that you shouldn't blame tech for your own stress. Instead, we need to find ways to manage how we use it in an always-on culture. The panels' solutions included: don't check your emails in the morning, go for a walk, take a long bath. I'm looking forward to writing my new out of office message. 'Anna is having a bath and will respond this afternoon.'