It's not just the use of wearables in people's private lives that faces scrutiny. An increasing number of companies are encouraging their employees to use a device at work and outside it as part of their corporate wellness initiatives. This is a big win for fitness device manufacturers, one of which specifically outlined such company plans as one of their five main goals when they went public. The main benefit for companies whose staff don wearables is that monitoring employee health enables them to score discounts from health insurance providers; However, some companies are using wearables to track the location of their employees in an effort to increase productivity. One example is Amazon, whose thousands of warehouse employees wear GPS tags integrated with a handheld scanner that provides them with the fastest path to the next item they need to pull from the shelves. Such a use seems perfectly reasonable, as does utilizing navigational aids for delivery services; But what about the use of fitness trackers for regular office workers? Are there other possible interpretations? This is the time, too, to make those connections between your story and its structural contributors. You are a human who was set up for this particular response, and others experience this too. What are the roots? Once you have a better handle on what's going on, you can make an informed decision about how best to handle it and take care of yourself. When considering self-care, it's helpful to recognize a continuum of options. We can't always be completely present in our lives--that would be exhausting--and sometimes harm reduction is all the self-care we need or can manage. Here are three options to consider when you're having a hard time. Sitting with our uncomfortable feelings lets us make use of the feelings, rather than be simply bowled over by them. I look for safe ways to lean into my discomfort: strategies like creating a safe space, which can be as simple as brewing a cup of tea (the ritual of making it and cradling the warm mug helps as much as drinking it). I now know that attitude is not just wrong; This new insight and awareness helped Jackie express and therefore deal with complicated feelings head-on--like shame, sadness, and disappointment--rather than projecting these feelings onto others or denying and repressing them.

Jackie gradually came to understand that her father had suffered psychological traumas that led him to behave in hurtful and destructive ways. Jackie slowly developed authentic relationships where she could be herself both online and offline. Research studies show that people with depression, social anxiety, or any other mental illnesses report emotional benefits derived from online peer interactions. By sharing personal stories and strategies for coping with the day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness, they experience greater social connectedness, feelings of group belonging, and hope. By learning from peers online, individuals with a mental illness may gain insight into important health-care decisions and treatments, all of which could promote positive mental-health-care-seeking behaviors. These individuals could also access interventions for psychological and physical well-being delivered through social media that could incorporate mutual support between peers, help promote treatment engagement, challenge the stigma associated with mental illness, and reach a broader demographic. Another study, examining the effects of online support for those going through treatment for breast cancer, showed that breast cancer patients' perceived knowledge increased and anxiety decreased by participation in a Twitter support group. Our sense of belonging and deep connection with others isn't just based on sharing our vulnerabilities or our real thoughts and feelings. The Guardian shared a story of one London analytics company that required its employees to participate in a self-quantification project. The founder told the reporter that if anyone didn't want to do it, they were out. This seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Compulsory participation is just the tip of the ethical iceberg. Should an employer have the right to collect their employees' biometrics, and if so, how should they be allowed to use this information? How can they ensure that personal health data isn't used in a prejudicial or discriminatory fashion (like at one data science company, which used such information to tag employees with labels like Busy and Coping and Irritated and Unsettled)? What security measures do they have in place to protect the privacy of their employees? To date, few organizations or regulatory entities seem willing to consider, let alone answer, any of these pressing questions. Someone who did is Financial Times journalist Sarah O'Connor. She spent a week tethered to multiple wearables and after seven days submitted the data to her editor. It can mean going for a walk outside, finding nature or even a patch of grass, riding my bike, playing with my dog, or talking to a friend. Sometimes embracing the discomfort is more than we can handle.

That's okay. Give yourself permission to be distracted--maybe read a novel or watch a movie. It will not erase your pain, but it can give you some breathing room. You're human. Sometimes avoiding your stressor will be all you can manage in the moment. When that's the case, there's nothing wrong with soothers like comfort eating. Some avoidance strategies--like drugs or alcohol--may not be viable options for everyone, but for some of us they can be useful tools for occasional downtime and social connection and can allow us to better manage our moods. Try not to judge yourself for which option you choose. Sharing lived experiences--like enjoying a holiday party or dinner, visiting a museum, attending a concert or a movie, or running a race with a close friend or family member--are also vital to forming deep bonds. This holds for our online interactions as well: sharing our good news on social-media platforms also can deepen ties and attachments with friends and family. A second factor linked to deepening attachments in the context of shared experiences, online or off, is the reaction we receive from the person with whom we share and to whom we tell our experiences. When responses from others are positive, supportive, and enthusiastic, and when they match our emotions, we feel more connected. The psychological benefit derived from shared experiences is not a new understanding. Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher and father of Western philosophy, wrote extensively on the topic of friendship. In his examination of friendship and what makes one a good friend, Aristotle highlights the concept of shared experiences and shared ideas and values as a means of deepening relationships. In short, friends are friends because there are things that they enjoy doing together; Whatever we believe the goal of life to be, says Aristotle, that is the goal we will want to pursue with our friends. The positive influence of shared experiences on our emotional well-being and connectedness has also been supported by a few recent studies. During the experiment, she continually updated a Facearticle article, did interviews with other media outlets, and posted a series of stories on the topic. In a podcast for NPR, O'Connor said, It felt very weird, and actually, I really didn't like the feeling at all.

It just felt as if my job was suddenly leaking into every area of my life. Like on the Thursday night, a good friend and colleague had a 30th birthday party, and I went along. And it got to sort of 1 o'clock, and I realized I was panicking about my sleep monitor and what it was going to look like the next day. While some of her younger colleagues thought the experiment was a good thing, O'Connor relayed the consensus among newsroom veterans that self-monitoring was an awful infringement of your civil liberties and your privacy and your dignity. One coworker issued a damning indictment of wearables in the workplace in general: The employment relationship is like this--I give you the work, and you give me the money. Anything else and you can go to hell. O'Connor chose to discontinue her personal wearables experiment once the week was over. Yet the larger, society-wide study still continues apace, as more and more companies make fitness technology part of their wellness plans. Instead, reflect and notice how it works for you. As you develop your felt sense, it will affect your future choices. For example, as you notice that you can tolerate sitting with your discomfort more than you feared, and as you find it more effective than your usual avoidance behaviors, you'll more likely turn to it in the future. Now we'll look at some other helpful practices. Remember that everyone is different, so you might have to try several approaches to find the best fit for you at any given time. One of my favorite tricks for managing stressors is priming my brain through imagery. When I'm in a hard circumstance, I try to imagine what a compassionate person would say to me in this moment, and how they would they take care of me. For some people, conjuring a specific image of a person (or being) is helpful. I tried this once, in a desperate circumstance, imagining Yoda* in the room with me, giving me advice. He had sage wisdom! For example, one such study found that shared experiences--even with a complete stranger--are experienced more intensely than are solo experiences. Another study underscored the positive effects of sharing experiences with those with whom we're already close, as opposed to those with whom we're not as close.

In other words, the closer we feel to the person with whom we share an experience, the more enjoyable that experience will be for us. Skill-Building Strategy Sharing positive experiences online with our virtual friends and family can also have positive effects on our sense of belonging, self-esteem, and emotional well-being. Below are three tips to help you get the most from your digital interactions. Share smaller accomplishments and experiences. These are just as important as sharing more significant life events. Posting about something on a smaller scale can be just as wonderful--like, Had a great day catching up with an old friend or Got to see a beautiful sunset today or Had a great run this morning after weeks on my back! Positive comments, likes, and shares on social media prolong our positive feelings associated with whatever happy moment we shared. While I disagree with the premise of collecting employees' health data, my disapproval isn't going to make it go away. On a more practical level, any company that's considering the use of fitness technology should make it voluntary. Every employee who wishes to participate should be given a consent form that clearly explains the type of information that will be collected, who will be able to view it, and what it will be used for. The company should also pledge to keep the data secure, to not share it with any third parties, and to not use it as part of performance evaluations. Such statements might not stand up in court, but they would at least offer employees some level of assurance that the company has good intentions. Blue Is the Color The sky is blue, the sea is blue, your eyes might be blue. Or so you think. One of the most interesting podcasts I've listened to in ages was a Radiolab episode about colors. The presenters shared the revelation that for a long time, humans didn't call the color blue by name. Many times, I've thought about the people who love me, and I imagine being wrapped in a hug or kind words. Controlled research studies prove that imagery is effective at stimulating hormones that soothe you.