Sky Tripping 2016 Stress-Busting $3k Giveaway

It's time to celebrate! What are we celebrating, you ask? Well for starters, how about Apple's decision to feature Sky Tripping on their "New Apps We Love" list? There are other reasons, of course, and you can read more about them (and our recent unexpected moment of inspiration) at our previous blogpost, "How Crashing My Drone Helped My Business Take Off". 

Anyway, we've been so busy building our service for the past year that we were more than a little surprised (and thrilled) when we saw our app on Apple's App Store homepage:

^ So much yay! ^

We are so grateful for all of our friends, family, and customers who have supported us this far, and for the amazing responses we've received from those discovering our service for the first time. We can't wait to give back, so we've decided to launch our Stress-Busting $3k Giveaway. This is your chance to win the latest Apple TV, a 50" flat screen television, a caseload of chocolate, killer luxury sleep products from Malouf and Saranoni (to help you rest better), and some exclusive Sky Tripping swag to top it all off — and that's just the grand prize package. We also have runner-up prizes to increase your odds of winning! 

We're so excited to discover the world with the Sky Tripping community and hope this helps you take time to relax a little more every day. Sign up at the contest page now, and remember that unexpected events can also mean unexpected opportunities.

Safe travels, happy health, and best of luck winning the giveaway!

How Crashing My Drone Helped My Business Take Off

I knew long before the actual crash happened that we
were in for some trouble.

It didn't just feel catastrophic. It felt cruel. I knew long before the actual crash happened that we were in for some trouble. I hit a headwind on the return flight which ended up chewing through my remaining battery power much too quickly. After flying for over sixty seconds with the power showing 0%, and having gotten so close to home, I couldn't help but cling to the tiny spark of optimism I still felt. 

It was almost as if I was in some dark, twisted comedy, or maybe one of those nightmares where you are always just out of reach of safety. It was so close I could almost touch the quadcopter — a mere 52 feet above the landing zone and making my final descent when the last few drops of power coursed through the motors. Our chopper took one final, pitiful gasp before falling silent, and ultimately surrendering to gravity. We watched in horror as it met the earth in a way definitely not recommended by the manufacturer. 'Note to self: try harder next time to not crash the $5k piece of equipment that is central to your entire business model.'

Had I begun my return flight 30 seconds sooner, this story (and blog post) might never have happened. But the way I see it, that would have been the real tragedy.

Let me explain. 

Launching a new business is hard.  Like, really hard. Ok, it's probably not as challenging for those 'very very very' smart presidential candidates with normal-small hands, but I was never dealt a decent trump card, so to speak. Building a business from scratch is the most risky, unnerving, exciting, expensive, educational, gut-wrenching process most people will ever experience. It's a roller coaster. The learning curve can be brutal — but there are those tiny moments that bring unparalleled gratification. 

The hardest part, for me at least, is not coming up with the idea. I've been dreaming up business ideas since I was a kid. The hardest part isn't even building the product or designing the service, as grueling as that work can be. And even though I break out into a sweat when it's time to get my head into design mode — product design, brand identity, app graphics — that still isn't the most difficult part. The biggest wall I've faced is in the actual task of getting my business out there. You know, helping it land into the mainstream. Heck, I'd even settle for hitting the river's shoreline most days. Just finding a decent market fit, "cracking the nut" as we call it....figuring out how to cost-effectively capture the attention of our potential customers is really a job in and of itself. 

Keep in mind, this part is the full-time job after we've designed, built, tested, and launched the product. Figuring out how to get the market to respond, unsure if the market will respond, can create a healthy dose of anxiety. It's difficult to explain, but I've found that any business I've bled to build becomes part of me, and the fear of rejection almost always follows uninvited. 

For a guy as talkative as I am, you'd think it would be a breeze for me to share my next big idea with the world. Ironically, its the thing I struggle with most.

It's worth noting that at the moment our precious drone ate dirt (ok, asphalt technically), our product was already launched. Sales had even been growing, and that's awesome. But we'd hardly arrived, at least not yet. Crashing our most crucial asset would seem like a fairly inopportune thing to happen at this point. But it wasn't. 

We've blogged a lot about stress, health, mental and emotional wellness, physical wholeness, meditation, and more. It's something we are really excited about, and something we hope to help share with the world. I don't know, maybe it was all the blog posts I've written or edited this year, all the data and research I've read, or perhaps all the Sky Tripping I have done which has finally helped me "transcend", but my instinctive reaction when my drone lost the war with physics was, surprisingly, acceptance and calm. I wasn't angry. There was no overwhelming regret. I was definitely disappointed, but I immediately accepted that what is, is. 

This type of thinking seems counter to the entrepreneurial mindset. No — it IS counter to the entrepreneurial mindset. An entrepreneur is driven to make change out of thin air, to impose his will on the world around him in order to change it to more closely match his vision of a better tomorrow. Acceptance is self-defeating, or so it would seem.

Personally, I tend to play the whole "what if" game when bad things happen to (or because of) me. I don't just do it a little bit; I can do it obsessively. I instantly felt an awareness of my situation — a realization that our workload had just ballooned beyond what it was when the sun rose that morning. It was now time to make it or break it.  Well, ok — technically "break it" was taken. Since we weren't anywhere near ready to throw in the towel, "make it" was really the only choice we had left. 

#This experience reminded me that we really do have control over our emotional response to unexpected circumstances, and that the emotions we feed will definitely determine the immediate circumstances that follow. There's a certain freedom that comes with letting go in situations you can't control.

Our discussions in the days leading up to the retreat were heavily centered around scrapping our existing website and launching an entirely new version. We had started to realize that our current site was woefully inadequate for our marketing needs, and if Sky Tripping was going to make a real impact in people's lives, we needed to quickly and effectively communicate the value of our service, starting with the messaging on our website. This task was competing against other priorities, however, and top of the list was further expanding our library of aerial films. 

At this point we hadn't yet proven the business's viability, so spending thousands to replace a lost investment didn't seem like the most prudent decision. The options that remained seemed clear: wallow in misery over our unexpected loss, or channel that energy and emotion toward improving and marketing the business we'd developed up to this point.

Looking back and seeing what we were able to achieve in the weeks that followed is nothing short of inspiring. We developed and launched an entirely new website in days. We reached out to Apple and introduced the newest version of our app. We doubled down on our plan to host local meet-ups to share health and wellness education within our communities. It was easy to forget the disaster we faced only weeks prior. We were buried in productivity. We had become a well-oiled machine. It's almost as if the acceptance of our recent disaster allowed us to also let go of the anxiety that was killing our will to market and grow the business. Our misfortune, paradoxically, focused our sense of purpose. 

Our aim here at Sky Tripping is simple: we want to help people relax. This desire isn't born out of some momentary, ecstasy-induced mantra we experienced at a rave the night before last. Over the past 5 years, we've discovered the power of relaxation, positive stress-management, meditation, calmness, and peace in helping restore our capacity to focus and work effectively in our daily lives. Before I give the wrong impression, these aren't the only benefits of or reasons for taking time for ourselves — but we've nonetheless found tremendous benefit from setting aside the time necessary to refocus our mind and retune our bodies. If it has worked for us, it will undoubtedly work for others. Sky Tripping is designed specifically to make it easy to make room for these benefits. Nature is proven to have measurable, substantial benefits for your mental, physical, and emotional health, even when it is experienced through images. You don't have to take that 50 mile backcountry adventure in order to experience the restorative benefits of nature — you can do it right in your own living room, in the subway on the way to work every morning and afternoon, or while sitting in a cubicle at the office. Taking even a few minutes every day can have profound, compounding, and positive effects in your life. That's our biggest motivation!

ENTER OUR STRESS-
BUSTING GIVEAWAY
& RELAX TO AERIAL
VIEWS OF NATURE.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

So here we are. It's been less than a month since our good fortune (disguised as disaster) struck, and we're already seeing huge payoffs that have accompanied our willingness to embrace the more positive aspects of our circumstances. Just last week Apple featured our Sky Tripping app in their "New Apps We Love" category. Immediately we saw sales jump by more than ten times. Needless to say, this was a huge win for our team after working so hard for the better part of a year to get this life-changing service to our customers. We're not raking in millions yet (far from it), but that's not really our primary goal, either. The thing we're really celebrating is the solid affirmation that this service is valuable, useful, and built to a high enough standard to garner the attention of the most well-respected brand on the planet.  

So it's time to take it to the next level.  We are so grateful for all of the people who have supported us this far, and for the amazing responses we've received from those discovering our service for the first time. We can't wait to give back, so we've decided to launch our Stress-Busting $3k Giveaway. This is your chance to win the latest Apple TV, a 50" flat screen television, a caseload of chocolate, killer luxury sleep products from Malouf and Saranoni to help you rest better, and some exclusive Sky Tripping swag to top it all off. We even have runner-up prizes to increase your odds of winning. 

We're so excited to discover the world with the Sky Tripping community and hope this helps you take time to relax a little more every day. Sign up at the contest page now, and remember that unexpected events can also mean unexpected opportunities.  

Safe travels, happy health, and best of luck winning the giveaway!

RELIEVING STRESS, THE NATURAL WAY

Our lives are chock-full of things that can stress us out. Demanding jobs. Performance reviews. Deadlines. Bills. Social media shaming. Polarizing hashtags, news, and political punditry — the list goes on. These daily pressures are about as common as tap water.

We wrote a previous blog post revealing the hidden secret of stress. We show how leveraging stress (rather than fearing it) can have considerable health benefits.

But what if we could do one simple thing every day to tame the stress in our lives? Science reveals that upping our dose of nature can radically reduce mental and physical stress.

Our team has experienced plenty of stress in our own careers despite the fact that we love what we do. The science behind natural stress relief surprised us. But even before we truly understood these studies, we observed that nature played a role in regulating our own stress levels. That, in turn, led us to develop the Sky Tripping app which harnesses the power of nature in reducing stress.

Nature exposure is a powerful weapon against overwhelm. People living near green space report less mental distress than those in urban areas.1 Hospital patients with window views where grass and trees are visible experience faster recoveries.2 Students attending schools with green space perform better than those without.3 Short doses of nature—even images of it—can calm people down and sharpen their performance.4 In studies from Norway to South Korea, findings are the same: nature is the natural stress-buster.

Nature isn't just pretty. MRI scans show that nature is good for the brain. When volunteers looked at scenes of nature, their anterior cingulate and insula are activated.5 These areas of the brain deal with empathy and altruism. Study after study shows that even pictures of natural environments can work wonders.

Unfortunately the opposite is also true: exposure to urban settings creates stress. The same study showed that urban scenes caused more blood flow in the amygdala.5 The amygdala processes the common "fight or flight" responses such as fear and anxiety.

Humans need exposure to forests, beaches, rivers, trees, and things that grow. We often find ourselves nature-starved without even knowing it.

In 2008 a major shift occurred. For the first time in human history, more humans live in cities than the countryside.6 In the US, over 80% of the population lives in urban areas, and in many other countries the percentage is greater.7 More people than ever find themselves living without easy access to a natural environment.

But as these studies show, the benefits of nature exist even when you're not physically there. Remember that hospital patients only needed a view of trees and grass. The MRI volunteers were only shown pictures.

Experiencing the outdoors virtually will improve your emotional well-being. It can also reduce your chances of depression, anxiety, heart disease, migraines, and more.8 It has even been found to increase attentional capacity, positive emotions, and ability to reflect on a life problem.9

RELIEVE STRESS
AND GAIN AN
EDGE WITH THE
SKY TRIPPING APP.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

Sky Tripping offers stunning aerial views of some of the most beautiful places on Earth. The films include natural audio tracks which further maximize the stress-reducing benefits. Our users report a powerful relaxation effect and a decline in stress levels as they use our app. Sky Tripping is available in the App Store for iOS and the new Apple TV. Set daily reminders to take a short break while you reap the healing and restorative powers of nature.

Reducing stress is a worthwhile pursuit, but eliminating stressors isn't enough. Preparing yourself for unforeseen challenges is the key to maintaining mental and physical wellness. Meditation, deep breathing, and walks in nature are all great options for managing stress. Tools like Sky Tripping give you the help you need to develop habits of calmness and focus — no matter what life throws at you.

_____________________________________________________

1. University of Exeter Medical School, 2014, see also: School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 2013

2. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

3. PNAS 2015

4. Matilda van den Bosch, Psychology & Behavior 118, May 2013

5. Korean Journal of Radiology, 2010

6. http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0112/p25s02-wogi.html

7. US Census Bureau

8. Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo, Norway, 2015

9. Oberlin College, 2009

BECOME A BEAST WHEN IT COMES TO MENTAL AWARENESS

Plenty of people put an emphasis on being “smart”. The ability to learn and retain useful information is an important lifelong skill. It’s easy to envy someone else for their wealth, beauty, or proportional physique. But do you ever find yourself feeling jealous of someone’s seemingly effortless ability to learn new things? Similarly, have you ever wished you had the same strong memory you had in your youth?

Your mind — both the conscious and the subconscious — is the workhorse that is responsible for governing every action you take, so the desire to keep it strong and active is natural. The good news is that we can do a few incredibly easy things every day to ensure that our minds are working at peak performance.

FOOD AFFECTS MENTAL SHARPNESS

Your diet may not be the first thing you think of when looking for major players in your cognitive function, but your gut is often referred to as your “second brain”. In fact, the majority of your body’s serotonin — the chemical which plays a vital role in brain functions such as emotional wellness, sleep, and even sex-drive — is concentrated in the gut, with over 90% being produced and used there.

Given that your gut and brain are interconnected and dependant on each other in this and many other surprising ways, that old saying "you are what you eat" may have more science behind it than we realize. If we want optimal results, we need to make sure we are feeding our bodies things that will help, rather than hurt, our cognitive function.

Other than eating a balanced diet there are some vitamins that have been found to be helpful in keeping your mind sharp. Numerous foods have proven benefits on mind and body alike. Omega 3s and Vitamin D have been shown to aid in memory and learning, probiotics assist with gut health and improved immunity, and Vitamin B12 protects against brain atrophy in old age.

MOVEMENT IMPROVES MEMORY

A good workout, a brisk walk, or a short jog has the ability to increase blood flow to your brain – more specifically the hippocampus – which is responsible for memory. There are studies showing that people who did more aerobic exercise had less tissue density loss than those who did not exercise regularly. And yet other studies show that exercise helps you to better handle stress, make clear decisions, and improves your ability to learn.

If exercise is the yin of body/brain wellness, meditation is the yang. Mental focus and clear thinking can wane when you are stressed out. There’s no question that meditation is a great tool to de-stress and improve your overall mood, but studies show that meditation actually activates parts of your brain important for memory and learning.  It even raises IQ scores over time. Getting physical doesn’t just mean exercising your brains out (no pun intended). Spending your time on the go is good for your health, but also make sure to reserve time for the physical relief that only meditation brings.

GET MENTAL

It is easy to get into a less-than-optimal routine. Maybe you’re feeling overdue for a veg session, or perhaps you legitimately don’t have time to take on something new. Even though your brain is an organ, treating it like a muscle brings similar benefits as physical exercise provides your body.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

Your brain needs to be challenged and stimulated every day to keep it sharp. There are many recommended things that we can do like listening to music, reading, or even spending a few minutes on fun (but mentally challenging) activities such as crossword puzzles.

You can make other changes like watching a documentary instead of scrolling social media or watching the latest episode of whichever reality tv show is popular at the moment. Even going for a walk in a new area or driving a different way to work will light up new pathways in your brain. Take the time to notice the things around you and then try to remember them later in the day, memorize a poem, or commit a new phone number you need to memory instead of just letting your smartphone do it for you.

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

Your brain function isn’t set in stone. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you can do some simple things to boost your brain function. Keeping your stress levels down, eating right, and exercising your mind and body are important tools to help you achieve greater cognitive function.

HOW TO MAKE STRESS YOUR FRIEND

It's common knowledge that stress kills. As WebMD states, “Studies have found many health problems related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk [from] conditions like obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.” That’s a pretty diverse list. And it’s far from exhaustive. 

We have all felt the negative effects of stress, and know that we should be actively working to reduce the amount of stress in our daily lives. After all, stress is a killer. That’s a scientifically known fact.

But there's only one problem: it isn’t true.

I'll show you why stress isn’t the problem, why stress is valuable, and how rethinking your views on stress will actually help you live longer.

“For years I've been telling people, stress makes you sick. It increases the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. Basically, I've turned stress into the enemy. But I have changed my mind about stress, and today, I want to change yours.” - Kelly McGonigal

WHY STRESS ISN’T THE PROBLEM

What if I told you the most dangerous part about stress is not the stress itself, but rather the fear that stress is dangerous.

But how can that be when it’s widely accepted - even in medical and scientific circles - that stress is a killer?

In the insightful TED Talk “How to make stress your friend”, esteemed health psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal reveals a flaw in the way we think about stress. According to her, stress itself has little (if any) ill effect on our health. Instead, she points out that it is actually the belief that stress is bad which is responsible for the negative impacts commonly associated with stress. Let that sink in for a minute: stressing over stress is what harms you, not the actual stress itself.

In her video, Kelly refers to a study which tracked 30,000 adults in the United States over the course of eight years in which the researchers asked participants, "How much stress have you experienced in the last year?”, followed by , "Do you believe that stress is harmful for your health?" Then they waited. Relying on death records over the next eight years, these researchers discovered something disturbing: those who had experienced high levels of stress in the previous year saw a 43% increase in their risk of death. But that only held true for those who believed that their stress was unhealthy.

In contrast, it did not seem to have any negative effect on those who didn’t believe stress was harmful for their health. Even more surprising, those participants had the lowest risk of death compared to anyone in the study, including those who felt they had little or no significant sources of stress in their lives.

“Now the researchers estimated that over the eight years they were tracking deaths, 182,000 Americans died prematurely, not from stress, but from the belief that stress is bad for you. That is over 20,000 deaths a year. Now, if that estimate is correct, that would make believing stress is bad for you the 15th largest cause of death in the United States last year, killing more people than skin cancer, HIV/AIDS and homicide.”

We’ve all heard of folks who are willing to die for their beliefs, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. We believe we’re going to suffer crippling, even deadly effects because we’re overwhelmed. And in a classic case of mind over matter, we will that reality into existence with nothing more than our faulty beliefs.

Clearly there’s more to the story here than psychologists, doctors, and scientists have been saying for decades. We each have experiences which challenge us, but this new research shows that the way we choose to react to these experiences can have as big of an impact (if not bigger) than the actual stress that accompanies them.

STRESS IS YOUR BODY'S WAY OF PREPARING FOR A CHALLENGE

“Their heart was still pounding, but this is a much healthier cardiovascular profile. It actually looks a lot like what happens in moments of joy—and courage.”

In a study at Harvard University, researchers put a group of people through a ‘stress test’. But before the test they were given different information about what stress was. They were actually taught to rethink the feelings associated with stress; “That pounding heart is preparing you for action. If you're breathing faster, it's no problem. It's getting more oxygen to your brain.”

Not surprisingly these people were less stressed and anxious during the test. But what was fascinating is that these people did have a notable response, one that closely mimicked how we respond to joy and courage.

I find that appealing. Life can get hard and stress has a way of adding rocks to your already full backpack and weighing you down. The idea that I could exchange that sense of burden with feelings of courage and joy is liberating.

UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF & EMPATHY FOR OTHERS WILL HELP YOU LIVE LONGER

Kelly rounds off her message by addressing a little-known but significant positive effect stress has on us: stress makes us social. Citing another study where respondent’s stressful life experiences were measured, the authors found that for each difficulty such as financial troubles or a family crisis, their risk of death was increased by 30 percent. Of course, in her classic style, Kelly goes on to point out the crucial caveat. As she puts it, “People who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero. Caring created resilience.”

When your realization that empathic action protects you from the potential harms of stress is coupled with the knowledge that the way we feel about stress is more dangerous than the stress itself, you have a pretty powerful one-two punch against all sorts of nasty health-related issues. 

Your informed outlook is your best protection against the dangers that have long been mis-attributed to stress. Not pills. Not psychotherapy. Not lamenting the human condition. 

Tell me that isn’t empowering.

RELIEVE STRESS
AND ENJOY LIFE
TO THE SIGHTS &
SOUNDS OF NATURE.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS 

In short, my best response to stress is simply acknowledging that it is there, taking a moment to understand why I'm feeling it, and embracing the courage my mind and body are enabling me to take with me into the challenge I'm facing.  

Recognizing that stress is ok - even helpful - as it prepares my body and mind to face whatever challenges crop up will bring more than a sense of relief - it will bring me a longer, healthier life.

And finally, embracing the impulse to reach out to others when I need help will benefit both them and myself.  Furthermore, it will expand my own capacity to deal with my problems by helping me develop skills I don't currently have. In short, stress is my friend.

WHO IS THIS ARTICLE FOR?

If you are a Buddhist monk living atop a quiet peak in Tibet, you may not need this news. But if you (or others like you and I) are powering through the daily grind while yearning for a little reprieve from the burden of it all, then this no doubt will help them reshape their outlook on those moments when things get chaotic.  Share this post with them, and be sure to watch the full talk from Kelly (below)!

Happy stressing!

DO THIS 1 THING TO IMPROVE YOUR MIND AND BODY TODAY

At one time or another we've all found ourselves disgruntled as we power through our monotonous workout routine. Like a caged rodent running eternally towards our great escape, we're stuck on the dreaded treadmill wishing that we could get the benefits of exercise by doing something that actually made us happy (like eating chocolate).

I can’t deny that after it’s over I do feel better; but I relate the high more to the way a prisoner feels after being released than to the feelings brought about by exercise-induced endorphins.

For those of you that can empathize, I have good news and I have bad news: 

The bad news is that chocolate isn’t going to tone and strengthen your body, or help you shed unwanted pounds.

The good news is that chocolate does boost your endorphins! Takeaway of the day: you can get the endorphins without the treadmill!!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
— Charles M. Schulz

But all joking aside, there are actually many benefits that come from eating chocolate.

Chocolate has been used in many parts of the world for centuries. The earliest recorded consumption of chocolate is dated between 1400-1500 BC. At that time, chocolate was only available for the elite. As early as 1570, cacao was being used for medicinal reasons.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

There are now studies showing that eating a small bar of dark chocolate a day does have health benefits. Because chocolate actually comes from the cacao tree, it has many of the benefits of dark vegetables, including:

  • Flavonoids – these act like antioxidants and help with anti-aging and protect against free radicals that lead to heart disease.
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol by up to 10%
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Suppressing coughs — yep next time you have a cough that won’t go away, consider skipping the cough medicine and instead reaching for a piece of dark chocolate. Several studies that show that theobromine (the key chemical in cacao/chocolate) works better than codeine at quelling coughs. A number of us here at Sky Tripping have tried it in our own homes, and with great happiness we can confirm that it works; and best of all no one needs to be persuaded into eating it. I've found 1-1.5 ounces of dark chocolate (35% cacao or higher) 15-30 minutes before bed puts my cough right to sleep.  For my kids, I typically serve them about half that much (3/4 ounce or so).

NIBBLE ON SOME
DARK CHOCOLATE
WHILE RELAXING TO 
VIDEOS OF NATURE.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

The emotional benefits may seem obvious; it makes you feel good, what else matters? But chocolate isn’t merely the most craved confection — there are actually a few “sciency” reasons why it makes you feel better too:

  • Chocolate stimulates endorphins, the same hormone that blocks pain and makes you feel happy
  • It has serotonin, the main chemical found deficient when you are depressed

Chocolate is high in fat and calories, so binge eating it still isn’t really recommended. But there are real benefits to eating a small amount on a regular basis. Total body wellness comes from feeling good on the inside and outside. It’s necessary to allow yourself to do things that help you feel happy and recharged on the inside. Whether that means going for a quiet walk, getting out with friends, or eating chocolate and watching a movie, taking care of your mental health is a crucial component for overall wellness.

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

Sometimes life is stressful and we don’t have the physical or emotional energy to do a gym work out. On those days I suggest eating some dark chocolate. And if you feel up to it, throw in a few minutes of light yoga. Your heart will love you for it.

I mostly stick to a healthy lifestyle — healthy food, moderate exercise, and plenty of recreation to keep life fun. But there are still times when I just don’t feel like I am running at top performance. During those times I like to take a moment to think about what has changed. Am I not sleeping enough? Skipping my meditation? Is there an emotional challenge I’m trying not to acknowledge? Have I been working too hard? There are many reasons why I might be feeling less than optimal, but I think it’s the simplest fix that surprises me most often: H2O.

A number of studies have been conducted which point to surprising benefits of staying hydrated, such as improved mental sharpness, increased energy, and an overall reduction in caloric intake; but there is still some degree of variance in our understanding of exactly how much water is ideal. There are claims that we should drink anywhere from 8 glasses of water to a gallon of water per day. While there isn’t necessarily a magic number that fits everyone, my own observations show that most people have room for more water in their day.

I personally need more than 8 glasses and less than a gallon of water to feel my best. My doctor has indicated that the best way to ensure that I replenish what is lost daily through respiration, perspiration, and waste is to drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water each day. So if I weigh 120 pounds, I need to drink at least 60 ounces of water a day, and more if I am in the sun, working, or sweating at an increased rate.

We may not have a concrete answer about how many ounces we need each day, But we do know the reasons we need more water and the benefits of staying hydrated.

WE NEED WATER TO LIVE

Our body is made up of 60% water. The water in our bodies directly affects our ability to produce saliva and urine; it aids in circulation, digestion, and transporting nutrients; and it plays a crucial role in helping our bodies maintain an optimal temperature.

When dehydration sets in (even on a very minor level), our entire system begins to be affected.

This may exhibit through feelings of sluggishness and exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, trouble digesting foods properly, and more. These signs are our body’s early way of simply telling us that we need more water.

MUSCLES NEED WATER FOR ENERGY

When we sweat, our body loses electrolytes including chloride sodium and potassium. Our bodies depend on these minerals for communication. When they drop below normal levels we will experience muscle fatigue and even muscle cramping.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking around 17 ounces of water a couple of hours before we exercise, continuing to drink fluid while exercising to replenish what is lost through perspiration.

WE NEED WATER TO FLUSH OUT TOXINS

Our bodies comes into contact with toxins via the things we touch, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. These toxins are stored in our kidneys and lymphatic system. Our bodily fluids help to transport waste products out of our cells and ensure they are properly and safely excreted. Our bodies can get rid of toxins through our sweat or urine but it is vital that we have enough water to flush them out. It’s also important that our body has enough water to spare or it will redirect the water set aside for sweat and urine in taking care of other essential body systems, leaving the toxins trapped in our body.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

Calming Aerial Videos

Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

PERSONAL TAKEAWAY

I feel the best when I drink half my bodyweight in ounces of water. Sometimes water can be boring and I want something with more taste. Rather than automatically reaching for a sugary soda, I often add a little lemon juice or cucumber to my water. This always helps me enjoy what I’m drinking, resulting in my drinking more water. Remember to add something that will make you want to reach for your glass!

Last but not least, keep your water with you. This is especially important in the summer when the heat keeps you sweating constantly throughout the day.

P.S. If you’re one of those people who can’t drink their water after it gets warm my family loves their Hydro flask bottles. They keep ice in your water all day even when it’s blistering hot. You will be surprised how much more you drink if you have it on hand all of the time and it is something you look forward to drinking.

WHEN LESS IS MORE: A STATEMENT ON SLOWING DOWN

“Wellness is not a 'medical fix' but a way of living - a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.” - Greg Anderson

We have a productivity problem. As responsible, hard-working people, we pack our schedules nearly airtight. More often than not, compliments seem to be reserved for those who are most busy. Being a “workaholic” is a sign of success. What's not to admire about the person we judge as being industrious, hard-working, and ambitious? 

On the other hand, if you choose to make do with less in exchange for more free time (or peace of mind), it's hard not to be seen as a second-class citizen. Society tends to see these people as underachieving, disappointing sloths (this is a problem, apparently, because although sloths are adorable balls of fur, they have a reputation for being unable to hold down a steady nine-to-five).

This re-emerging trend seems to affect everyone today. The majority of businesspeople, parents, and even children are falling victim to this highly demanding “busier is better” mentality.

But is being busy really better?

Strangely, the answer seems to be “no”. Over-work might actually be productivity’s public enemy number one. Working is a fact of life for nearly all of us, but our false ideas about what it means to be responsible, contributing members of society could actually be limiting the value of those contributions. Research shows that longer work hours are actually undermining the gains in productivity employers dream the increased hours will provide. This culture of "busyness" sucks up more hours of our day, and in exchange it makes is less productive and less happy. 

There’s more: between 2004-2008 the cdc reports that “an estimated 10.2% of U.S. adults experienced 14 or more mentally unhealthy days every year" (Frequent Mental Distress or FMD).  And during 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks).

Sure, it’s normal to face the occasional moment of heightened stress, but when our capacity to regulate our emotional well-being is diminished, it can take a huge toll on both our mind and body.

If you find you are often stressed, anxious, worried, unsatisfied, or unhappy — or if you are constantly criticizing yourself — then there’s no better time to make a plan for your own wellness.

There’s plenty of evidence which seems to shows that emotional duress increases your exposure to immune problems, physical illness, and cardiovascular disease. 

Over the years I have observed (and sometimes fallen victim to) the all-too-easy “quick-fixes” which may be great at masking stress, but really only compound the problems.

Drinking, smoking, recreational drug, and my personal favorite: unhealthy or fatty foods. All of these things seem to help by numbing or distracting your emotions for a time. But none of these really sharpen your coping skills, or help you to get back on your feet.

After the pizza and ice cream and potato chips are gone, I find that the problem is still there, and sometimes it has gotten worse.

So how can we develop the skills to be mentally and physically strong when life’s challenges come knocking at our door? The best defense is to be ready - to prepare our body, mind and spirit to handle whatever waits for us on the other side.

BODY

Your body is the vehicle that gets you through this life; you need to make sure that it is running at its best.

We can all remember the times when we’ve felt our best in life and can most likely correlate those moments with a higher number of productive habits such as regular exercise and healthier food choices.

There are countless workout options covering a wide range of physical abilities that you can choose from. If running or biking aren’t for you, perhaps you’ll find swimming or yoga to be a better fit. Daily walks beat doing nothing, and even sixty seconds (as in one, lonely minute) of vigorous exercise can bring massive benefits.

Case in point: one of the largest studies ever undertaken in exercise science recently showed that the same health benefits can be had by the person working out vigorously for 1 minute as the person spending 45 minutes or more in endurance training. Let me say that for you again in case you missed it: 1 minute of vigorous exercise offers the same health and fitness benefits as a 45 minute workout. Don’t believe me? Check out the study for yourself.

And don’t forget that pretty much anything that gets you moving will help you feel better, as even light activity aids in your body’s natural release of additional endorphins.

If you aren’t ready for vigorous exercise yet, try some simple activities that get you out in the sun. Do some slow stretches, or get moving fast enough that you notice an increase in your respiration rate. A little light yard work will get your heart pumping, and just ten minutes of sunshine has amazing benefits.

MIND

Every day your emotions are getting pulled in a number of different directions. Everything you worry about, stress about, get excited or sad about — all of it affects your emotional health in at least some small way.

Remember to be mindful of how you feel. Recognize your feelings, and make it a priority to address them when they need your attention. Then take time each day to do something that replenishes your emotions and gets them strong and ready for whatever is next.

Find what works for you. Is it talking to friends? Reading a good book? Even just meditating for 37 seconds can give you an amazing reset. Taking a few simple moments for yourself will go a long way in keeping your mind healthy.

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

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SPIRIT

Taking care of your spiritual well-being is more than just checking the religion box. There’s no doubt that religion does help many people who are seeking to fulfill their spiritual needs, but spiritual wellness is more than religious affiliation.

“The spirit is the aspect of ourselves that can carry us through anything. If we take care of our spirit, we will be able to experience a sense of peace and purpose even when life deals us a severe blow. A strong spirit helps us to survive and thrive with grace, even in the face of difficulty.”

Your spirit is the strongest when you know and appreciate yourself for who you are. That may include the less-than-comfortable activity of better aligning yourself with your life’s goals (aka self-improvement), but it’s crucial that you start today by being more accepting of the person you are now. How will you build on the good inside of yourself if you aren’t willing to acknowledge and accept that goodness? Serve others, Take time for yourself, do the things that make you happy, and recognize and be thankful for all that you have in this moment.

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

Being ready to face life’s challenges is a must for me if I’m going to be happy and well. It’s easy to buy into the lie that I don’t have time to devote to myself, but the truth is that if I want to be happy, I can't afford not to.

Trials will come and it is important that you are prepared to tackle them so you can keep moving forward. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you must be like Narcissus, eternally gazing at your own reflection at the expense of everything around you. Spending a few minutes each day can have measurable, profound effects.

I challenge you to start taking care of yourself today! Take time to do something that brings you joy; meditate, exercise, and be thankful for what you have. Doing this will lead to an overall increase in your well-being, and will empower your mind, body, and spirit to handle anything you need to face.

Do you have a secret weapon that helps you make caring for yourself a priority? Share it with us in the comments!

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time in your day?  Are there habits you want to make room for — healthy things like reading more books, engaging in exercise, taking up a hobby, or practicing regular meditation — but feel there isn't enough time to spare?  Welcome to the club; you're not alone. In fact, half of all Americans today self-identify as feeling like they have too little time in their day.  (At the risk of being a nuisance, I'll remind you that this means the other half of Americans feel they have time aplenty).  

So what separates these two groups: those who feel they have the time they need and those who don't? Is one half of society really more pushed for time than the other half, or is the old maxim that says, "We all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce" true?  

And anyway, is there anything you can actually do if you are constantly fighting the clock?

There's a fairly simple answer to that question, and probably thousands more covering how you can go about beating your schedule into submission. But today we're going to explore just one sure-fire solution that anyone can use (but relatively few attempt), and as a bonus we'll explore the reasons why you're not already using this simple but powerful tool on a daily basis.

At this point you may be asking, "What's this magic bullet, this golden goose that has the power to transform my life day in and day out?"  The answer is meditation. That's right: it's free, it's simple, and it's instantly gratifying. Best of all, you can experience the benefits by doing a simple meditation right this minute.

Really.

OUR FIRST 37-SECOND MEDITATION STARTS NOW

Rather than trying to sell you on the incredible benefits of meditation, I would prefer instead to let you experience them for yourself. Right now. Does this scare you? That's ok! Uncertainty (or even anxiety) is a very common reaction when someone first considers actually exploring meditation. We'll get into some of the reasons for this common but irrational reaction, but first let's spend a moment so we can see for ourselves why meditation is a much-needed addition to our day.

37-SECOND MEDITATION:  (five measured breaths in and out)
1. Sit in an upright position, stretch and then relax your back and neck, rest your arms and legs (no need to move anywhere, simply stretch and then get into a comfortable but alert position)
2. Exhale, then take a deep, calm breath at an unhurried rate. 
3. Once you have filled yourself with breath, calmly exhale and feel the breath leave your body, and allow yourself (mentally and physically) to let it go.
4. Count each inhaled breath, and repeat this process until you have five full inhale/exhale cycles (these will probably take 10-15 seconds each for a full cycle). While you breathe, allow your mind to focus on your breathing. Keep it focused there. If/when your mind wanders, gently bring your concentration back to your breath. You’re not here to solve a problem with your mind, to think about what you need to accomplish, or to tell yourself how you might be able to feel better. You’re here to assist your mind in clearing out some of the excess. You do this by training your mind to stay where you decide it should stay, and right now that means focusing on your breathing. As you slowly inhale and exhale, pay attention to how your body and mind respond to the deliberate slow down, and how it helps you to literally shed the stress and anxiety of the moment. You are taking a moment to heal; it really does work.

How did it go? Pay attention to how your body and mind feel now, and ask yourself, "How did that change my mental and physical state from just a minute or two ago?" Keep in mind that any effects you feel now are likely to be amplified and prolonged the more you practice simple meditations. I've found the power and calmness my meditations bring tend to get stronger with time.

YOU NEED MEDITATION.  SO WHY ARE YOU LIVING WITHOUT IT?

It's easy to get carried away on the urgent things in life while at the same time neglecting the important ones.  And sometimes things come up that require us to put everything else on hold. But how often do you choose to spend your time on something good at the expense of something better

Our brains are tricky. We can want (or even want to want) to do something that's good for ourselves, and yet our own brain can derail our best intentions as if our will were nothing more than an eyelash in a monsoon. It almost seems like we're helpless prey in the sights of our most dangerous saboteur.

The secret to true, lasting change comes from understanding that the brain is not a single organ, but really two separate parts working in tandem to keep "you" on the right track. Keep in mind, this doesn't always mean our brain will make the best decisions on our behalf if left unchecked.

There is the autonomic brain, the brain of instinct; and then there's the intentional brain, the brain of reason. Once you understand that these two parts exist (mostly) independent of each other, then you can start to identify which part of your brain is responsible for your daily decisions — and it's that "mostly" that is the secret to taking control of your life. I promise, if this isn't a concept you've understood before today, this one piece of information alone will give you incredible power over your life. 

Your subconscious brain wants to make sure you feel ok.  This means it does really great things for us like making sure we keep breathing, keeping our heart pumping, and setting off automatic alarms when we get hungry. But it also turns dastardly when stresses appear, getting you intoxicated for a quick escape, becoming angry so you get a buzz from the release of adrenaline, or pushing you to tear down others in order to feel superior or "in control". 

Once you recognize that these natural impulses are nothing more than simple means intended to extinguish your discomfort, pain, or even exposure to danger, you can begin to train your mind to anticipate healthier, more positive outlets for relief. Listening to your brain is an important key in this process, as is regularly reminding your subconscious brain that the conscious you is now in charge.

So if you've known that meditation brings benefits that can help you be happier (you likely have) and perhaps if you've even wanted to start practicing it regularly, why have you failed to make it a habit in your life up to now?  Let's explore some of the most common lies your subconscious might be telling you to keep you back from this healthy change.

LIE #1: YOU CAN HANDLE EVERYTHING THE WAY IT IS NOW

This is a common lie the ego tells us: we can handle our life just the way it is. We don't need any help.  But let's think about the depth of that illogic for a moment. For example, what attracted you to this article? What kept you reading? I don't believe in coincidences, but even if they do happen from time to time I'll be hard-pressed to believe they're a common occurrence.  Something led you to keep reading these words on this post on this day. Is there a reason for that?

Let's say you do have a perfect handle on everything going on in your life right now, even with zero reflection, meditation, or inner exploration. I would hazard to guess that you sense something is missing — something more. Today is the best time to find out what that is. You may not need it now (I'd challenge that notion), but that doesn't mean you won't benefit now.  And certainly the regular practice of gentle inward repose will benefit you later in whatever unexpected moment catches you by surprise.

LIE #2: YOU'RE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE "YOU" YOU MIGHT DISCOVER

You are the most important person in your life.  You have incredible insights that only you can discover within yourself.  That's right, only you will bring the kind of light into the world that you can uniquely offer, but your individuality won't simply uncover itself — and your best qualities certainly can't be revealed by others around you, no matter how much they care for you. Are there parts of yourself which you'd rather not acknowledge or face right now?  Congratulations! You've just discovered that you're human like all the rest of us! But when you start to accept yourself for who you are — right now — you'll find it easier than ever to tap into the parts of yourself that you love the most, and learn to accentuate those qualities as you grow into the best person you can be.  

We all struggle and falter.  That's part of life.  Be gentle with yourself and accept the best you have to offer while acknowledging the other parts that will provide you the opportunity to improve and develop further.  

LIE #3: YOU DON'T FEEL WORTHY OF PEACEFULNESS/YOU DON'T HAVE TIME

Let's be brutally honest for a moment: if you don't think you're able to spare thirty-seven measly seconds out of your day to allow calmness to enter into your mind and body, then your schedule isn't the problem.  Perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is, why don't you want to feel calm?  After all, if a few observed breaths can have a measurable impact on your stress levels, then why wouldn't you take that small moment (or longer) every single day? You've already spent 5+ minutes reading this article.  In that amount of time, you could have practiced eight meditations like the one we practiced above. If you think time is your problem then you need to think again. 

But there's good news: you've already proven that you do have time, and that you are worthy of that care and attention.  Set a reminder and commit to yourself now that you will take time every day (even if that means spending 20 seconds to focus on 3 breaths) to help yourself become more centered.

LIE #4: YOU DON'T DIDN'T KNOW HOW

Ta-da! If you've read the post up to this point (and exchanged less than a minute of your time to participate in the above meditation), then you know how to meditate.  It's easy to hear the word "meditation" and immediately assume you're out of your depth.  But the reality is, meditation is both a very broad and an insanely simple concept. An effective meditation can take many forms; but at its core, meditation is simply the art of practicing focus. As the dictionary explains,

"Meditation is the act of thinking deeply or focusing one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation." 

You don't need to have any special gadgets, you need zero experience, and it doesn't even require that you have a specific place set aside for it.  As Eckhart Tolle once said, "One conscious breath in and out is a meditation." If meditation can be something as simple as breathing, then you've been practicing your whole life! This can be done literally anywhere, anytime, by anybody.

Of course there are countless things you can do to tailor a meditation to your specific needs, but it should calm your mind to know that getting started — and experiencing powerful, real benefits in the process — requires nothing more than deciding to do it now.

LIE #5: YOU DON'T BELIEVE THERE ARE ANY REAL BENEFITS

This last one seems like it would be reserved for the most skeptical among us, but knowing that the animal brain works so hard to regulate our priorities without us even knowing it, it seems at least reasonable that we show some patience toward the cynic's hesitation. Hopefully you've spent half a minute (or longer!) today trying it for yourself, and have seen that a short moment clearing your mind and relaxing your body can have powerful, lasting effects on your day. But even a skeptic can be dubious of anecdotes, so the logical question we need to answer is whether or not these claimed benefits can be measured and backed by science.  

I'm glad you asked. :) A meta-analysis of 163 different studies on the effects of meditation found that meditation has a real, measurable, positive impact on practitioners of meditation. Other studies show that mindfulness meditation can rival pharmaceuticals in effectiveness for treating depression, anxiety, and pain. There are countless other studies that show what a powerful benefit meditation is to the mind and body for those who take the time to practice it.  And that's the catch: you have to do it to tap into these immense benefits. 

SEE STUNNING
VIEWS OF EARTH
FROM THE COMFORT
OF YOUR COUCH.

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Download Sky Tripping today and experience the peace and tranquility of immersive aerial videos in nature.  DOWNLOAD TODAY»

MY PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

I am no meditation guru by any measure. Like, if we're being honest, I'm as likely to benefit from writing this article as you are from reading it. I have learned to love and believe in the power of meditation, and have practiced it just enough to know I don't do it nearly as often as I should. As a result of this article, the Sky Tripping team has started talking about a 30-day challenge to meditate every day and report back with our thoughts and experiences (expect to see a blogpost or 5 about this in the next month or so). But at the end of the day, having the opportunity to explore why I have kept myself from fully enjoying the benefits of meditation on a daily basis has been extremely valuable. I want to meditate.  I want to want to meditate. Now I have a better idea of why, despite my desires, I've allowed myself to be what holds me back from this powerful tool, and what I can do to overcome that roadblock.  

MY CHALLENGE TO YOU

1. Take time for yourself.  Recognize that you deserve to take care of your own needs first. Only when you accept that truth will you be fully enabled to help those around you. 

2. Personal meditation is just that: personal. Find out what works for you by practicing, exploring, and — when you desire more knowledge — researching what has worked for others. But most importantly, practice! Commit to spending a certain amount of time every day: twenty seconds, two minutes, twenty minutes; one session every morning or two every day — these details don't matter nearly as much as the fact that you're actually doing it. You can always improve, refine, and increase. But as they say, starting is half the battle. So start. It really is that simple.

3. Share your experiences with others (including us)! Keeping people in the loop will serve both to help you re-inforce your commitment to yourself, and will also allow you to share something meaningful and helpful with those you care about. The more you discover your own center, the more you'll find the desire — and the capacity — to help others.

So here's to increased mindfulness! Sounds off in the comments and let us know how you plan to treat yourself more kindly starting today! 

SKY TRIPPING: NOW ON IPAD

We're excited to announce that our latest version of Sky Tripping is available in the Apple App Store for immediate download.  This update brings all of our glorious aerial views to the iPad, and also makes our app fully compatible with both the 9.7" iPad and 12" iPad Pro.  Set your iPad on a stand and let yourself relax to the beautiful oceans, vibrant desert, winter snow, or any of the other views available in the app!

Best of all, the app is now universal, so you can download it on all of your devices and enjoy stunning views of Earth wherever your breaks happen throughout your day. Let Sky Tripping on the new Apple TV help you unwind, relax, and meditate at home; or enjoy the sights and sounds of nature on the go with your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.  

We've also added support for iOS 8 and above, and fixed a few minor bugs. Happy Tripping!