Three Stress-Busting Apps Every Modern Man Needs
Illustration by Mr Adam Nickel
What to download to restore a bit of calm to your life.
It is no small coincidence that the wellness industry is thriving at a time when stress has reached epidemic levels, the NHS is in crisis, health insurance is inadequate and millennials are insatiably hungry for tech-based solutions to age-old problems. Longer working weeks, fewer hours of rest and a fixation with smartphones has created an appetite for fitness and mind-body therapies currently worth $542 billion*.
From yoga and mindfulness to gong baths and breathing techniques, practices that were once the butt of bad jokes have been given a thoroughly modern overhaul (and some much-needed scientific validation) for a generation of anxiety-ridden insomniacs. Here we detail three apps from 2018’s most forward-thinking wellness leaders.
For the uninitiated, a gong bath is a sensory experience that is somewhere between a sound massage and a meditation. IRL, you’d lie comfortably on a mat while a gong master – ideally Mr Leo Cosendai, London’s foremost sound healer (yes, that’s a job title) – hits an enormous gold plate, filling the entire room with, well, sound. The vibrations from the gong don’t just create an overwhelming amount of (very pleasant) noise, they course through your body and put you into a deeply relaxed and often rather trippy state.
The demand for Mr Cosendai’s sound therapy encouraged him to create Third Ear, a subscription-based service replete with high fidelity recordings that run the gamut from short guided meditations to 45-minute sound baths crafted from gongs, chimes and drums. Third Ear recognises that sound quality is crucial to getting the most out of these therapies and its recordings are seen as the best on the market. To reap the full benefits, be sure to listen with high-spec headphones.
Breathing techniques have been used for millennia to engage the parasympathetic system (responsible for the body’s unconscious actions), lower stress hormones and calm overactive minds. The brand of “conscious breathing” employed by breath guru Mr Alan Dolan aims to open up the full capacity of the lungs (workaholics and urbanites tend to use just 25%) in order to release excess emotional baggage, increase oxygen to starved tissue and recharge energy levels.
The technique was a game changer for Mr Dolan himself. A former PR manager in the aerospace industry, he achieved his financial goals only to remain deeply unsatisfied. The shift he experienced from breath work encouraged him to formalise a method that has tangible effects on his clients’ daily lives: smokers can be reformed, the anxious can find ease and the vast majority experience some level of emotional release.
Mr Dolan’s popularity means private sessions aren’t always immediately available, a conundrum that led him to create an app that features a series of easy-to-follow instructional videos for each day of the week.
MOVEMENT FOR MODERN LIFE
The stress-relieving benefits of yoga are well documented. The catch, of course, is that yoga studios can be intimidating places, a characteristic that nullifies the purpose of starting a practice in the first place. It follows, then, that few beginners are likely to show up to a bricks and mortar studio when virtual classes are readily available.
Platforms like Movement For Modern Life pool together celebrity yoga teachers (there’s an oxymoron for you) including Sri Dharma Mittra, Mr Norman Blair and Mr Stewart Gilchrist. Absolute beginners will benefit from four entry-level videos that cover the fundamentals of asana (postures) before progressing to the “easy” selection of classes. Contortionists, gymnasts and acrobats will probably want to skip this and go straight for the 30-day handstand challenge.