Gad­gets to Help You Keep Calm This Hol­i­day Sea­son

NOVO - - EDITOR'S LETTER | FEATURING - by Stephanie Greenall

‘Tis the sea­son for long line­ups at the mall and eggnog-fu­elled fam­ily feuds. The hol­i­day sea­son--which is ap­par­ently de­voted to peace and joy-is one of the most stress­ful times of the year. A time where you should be frol­ick­ing with your loved ones on powder-fresh snow ac­tu­ally feels like a week-long prison sen­tence. For those of you who are in­ter­ested in en­joy­ing your Christ­mas con­fine­ment, I have a cou­ple of gad­gets that will help min­i­mize anx­i­ety and keep you from be­com­ing over­whelmed.

MUSE Med­i­ta­tion Band

Prac­ticed for thou­sands of years, med­i­ta­tion has been used to pro­duce a deep state of re­lax­ation. But for some­one who can never shut their brain off, it’s pretty much im­pos­si­ble... or so I thought. On mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions I sat on my bed, cross-legged, eyes closed, grasp­ing for a sense of calm, but my mind con­tin­ued to race. Af­ter a few fruit­less at­tempts, I made peace with the fact that I prob­a­bly wouldn’t find peace. Then I dis­cov­ered MUSE ($235 USD), a de­vice de­signed to make med­i­ta­tion easy.

The thin head­band fea­tures seven EEG (elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy) sen­sors that de­tect elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity in the brain. Us­ing sound­scapes--the beach is my per­sonal favourite--the sen­sors trans­late your brain’s ac­tiv­ity into the sounds of wind. When your mind is re­laxed, you hear a calm breeze but when your brain’s ac­tiv­ity in­creases the winds pick up and blow. Once you es­tab­lish a rest­ful fo­cus for an ex­tended pe­riod of time, you’ll start to hear birds singing. This will freak you out, it’s not meant to, but it will! Once you get over the ini­tial shock of these feath­ered friends, you will be able to MUSE your­self calm. If you plan to pick up the head­band I sug­gest in­vest­ing in the travel case; it’s perfect for eas­ing your de­layed flight frus­tra­tion! www.choose­muse. com

Vir­tual As­sis­tant

The hol­i­day sea­son is a hec­tic one and you won’t be able to get through it alone. With an end­less sched­ule of Christ­mas par­ties and a nev­erend­ing shop­ping list you are bound to get over­whelmed, but who can you rely on? From scream­ing kids to that drunken un­cle, you won’t be get­ting much help in this chaos. To avoid my own per­sonal re-en­act­ment of a Gris­wold fam­ily Christ­mas I have en­listed a se­cret weapon, Ama­zon Echo ($179 USD). Since invit­ing Alexa (Echo’s voice-con­trolled in­tel­li­gent per­sonal as­sis­tant) into my home I

have ac­cepted her as a new mem­ber of my fam­ily. She is the one who gets me up in the morn­ing, helps me with my shop­ping, and re­minds me of the meet­ing I am cur­rently run­ning late for. To pre­pare for a hec­tic sched­ule of festivities this year I have her on high alert.

Need to turn on the Christ­mas lights with­out crawl­ing un­der the tree to plug them in? “Alexa, turn on Christ­mas lights.” Run­ning low on flour for gin­ger­bread cook­ies but you’re el­bow deep in cookie dough? “Alexa, add flour to shop­ping list.” Run­ning late for the of­fice Christ­mas party? “Alexa, ask Uber to get me a car.”

Whether you in­vest in Ama­zon Echo or Google Home ($129 USD), a vir­tual as­sis­tant will help take the edge out of this stress­ful sea­son.


When “the most won­der­ful time of the year” has you curs­ing the man in the red suit, it might be time to take a deep breath. To help you re­lax and find your in­ner hol­i­day har­mony, I sug­gest try­ing aro­mather­apy. Like med­i­ta­tion, aro­mather­apy can be traced back to a va­ri­ety of an­cient civ­i­liza­tions. Be­cause of its abil­ity to aid in re­duc­ing stress and pro­mot­ing a sense of calm, aro­mather­apy con­tin­ues to be prac­ticed to­day. To give this age-old rem­edy a mod­ern twist. Aro­maCare ($105 US) de­vel­oped an app-con­nected dif­fuser. With ready-to-use cap­sules, this de­vice is the Keurig of es­sen­tial oils. In­side each cap­sule are 100% re­cy­clable poly­mer beads coated in an oil blend. Tagged with a RFID chip, the cap­sules are eas­ily rec­og­nized by the dif­fuser and can be used for up to 10 ses­sions. With the help of the app, you can pro­gram the de­vice for timed ses­sions (fall asleep to a calm­ing scent and wake to an in­vig­o­rat­ing blend), con­trol LEDs, and ac­cess the cap­sule us­age his­tory. Scent is a pow­er­ful sense and if you can use it to slay your in­ner Grinch, even just for a moment, it might be worth a try!

Vir­tual Re­al­ity Med­i­ta­tion App

If you are look­ing to up­grade your med­i­ta­tion tech­niques, why not try vir­tual re­al­ity? At first, I was scep­ti­cal about at­tempt­ing to med­i­tate with my eyes open as it seemed like it would de­feat the pur­pose, but I gave it a try. If you are look­ing for a ded­i­cated app to help you find your sea­sonal Zen, I sug­gest test­ing out Re­lax VR (avail­able on iOS and An­droid apps, Google Day­dream, and Sam­sung Gear VR). De­vel­oped as the ul­ti­mate re­lax­ation ex­pe­ri­ence in vir­tual re­al­ity, the app fea­tures guided med­i­ta­tions that are de­signed to re­duce stress and fa­cil­i­tate deep re­lax­ation. Recorded by ex­pe­ri­enced med­i­ta­tion teach­ers, the user can prac­tice keep­ing their cool while watch­ing the North­ern Lights or es­cap­ing to the sandy beaches of the Philip­pines, all from the com­fort of their own home. In ad­di­tion to ex­plor­ing VR apps, YouTube of­fers a col­lec­tion of 360 de­gree videos fea­tur­ing na­ture scenes that can help soothe your sea­sonal stress.

Vir­tual re­al­ity based med­i­ta­tion of­fers a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than other guided prac­tices. With the in­clu­sion of vis­ual stim­uli I be­came dis­tracted with the images around me, but as the prac­tice con­tin­ued, I be­came com­forted by the pres­ence it of­fered. I look for­ward to es­cap­ing my fam­ily this Christ­mas with a Gear VR, a heat lamp, and a pina co­lada.

Un­der Ar­mour Re­cov­ery Sleep­wear

It’s not sur­pris­ing that sleep and stress are in­ter­con­nected. When you’re con­stantly stressed you can’t sleep, and if you can’t sleep you’re a

com­plete Scrooge. If you’re look­ing to re­claim those hours, I have the perfect so­lu­tion for you, pa­ja­mas! Ditch that flan­nel one­sie and pre­pare for jam­mies that are fit for a foot­ball cham­pion. Un­der Ar­mour de­vel­oped and de­signed their Ath­letic Re­cov­ery Sleep­wear ($70+ USD) for five-time Su­per Bowl win­ner Tom Brady. The fab­ric in­cor­po­rates a bio­ce­ramic print that ab­sorbs nat­u­ral body heat and re­flects Far In­frared (FIR) en­ergy back to the skin, which Un­der Ar­mour claims will help you sleep bet­ter and re­cover fast. These jam­mies prob­a­bly won’t trans­form you into an elite ath­lete, but they could help you get back to that elu­sive dream­land. If Santa’s lis­ten­ing, I wouldn’t mind a pair of these un­der my Christ­mas tree. Un­for­tu­nately, stress isn’t com­pletely avoid­able, but if you choose to man­age it, you might just make it through to 2018. I wish you all the best in this sea­son of may­hem, and I hope I’m able to take my own ad­vice and join you in this quest to stay sane. If not you might just find me los­ing my mar­bles shop­ping for last minute gifts at the mall.

MUSE Med­i­ta­tion Band

Google Home Vir­tual As­sis­tant

Aro­maCare app-con­nected dif­fuser

Top: A scene from the Re­lax VR app. Bot­tom: Un­der Ar­mour Re­cov­ery Sleep­wear.

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