Managing your mental health is challenging regardless of your profession. The brewing industry is no different. The physical demands placed on brewers and staff can be substantial. Add in the temptations of free and frequent access to alcohol, and it’s easy to lose track of both your physical and mental well-being in this industry. The job and its mental load rarely stay within the four corners of the brewery.
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Trying to maintain a proper work-life balance remains difficult in the best of times, and the conditions of today are anything but easy. I recently reached out to folks in the brewing industry with a discrete and straightforward request: what apps do you use to help manage your mental health and the balance between the beer business and your personal life. Here are a few favorites from the respondents.
The Calm app, which bills itself as the number one app for sleep, meditation, and relaxation, received several shout-outs. Calm has been downloaded more than 100 million times and respondents praised its ability to promote balance and mindfulness.
Jim Cavanagh, a web developer at Dogfish Head, wrote that Calm keeps him “in check for mindful breathing, stretching, and exercise.” Kimberly Clements of Pints LLC agreed. “I use the Calm app every day. Multiple times a day. It’s the best.” A respondent from Whistle Punk Brewing in Spokane, Washington, noted “I love Calm. It’s the only thing that has kept me motivated to meditate and there’s a ton of content on it.”
Several respondents touted their use of Insight Timer, which is a mental health app that provides free daily guided meditation practices, including more than 130,000 titles. Matt Stinchfield, the Safety Ambassador for the Brewers Association and Candace Moon, the Craft Beer Attorney, both recommended it. Stinchfield says he loves Insight Timer and uses it first thing every morning for 30 minutes. “Game changer for me,” he says. Moon notes she is a “big fan” and highly recommends it.
Another popular app that helps respondents with meditation, sleep, managing stress, and increasing mindfulness, Headspace has more than 70 million users throughout the world. Matthew Curtis, a UK-based beer writer and the publisher of Pellicle, notes he has used Headspace for years for meditation and that it has been important for maintaining focus and his sanity. Gareth Harries of Beer No Evil in the UK also recommends Headspace. After seeing a comedian discuss mental health, Harries “perused a course in mindfulness and then discovered Headspace. I tend to practice in the morning to kick off the day.”
Doug Veliky of Revolution Brewing recommends Peloton’s meditation programs. “They have ones geared toward falling asleep, putting aside anything that might keep you up,” he says. “Then there’s ones more geared toward starting your day in the right frame of mind. They sync in well with the exercise stuff and don’t require equipment.”
Another respondent recommended Tonal. “It has been awesome for me. By focusing more on working out/fitness, it’s been easier and easier to say no to beer (just trying to cut back a lot on consumption). I still love brewing and designing recipes, but Tonal has helped my mind and body non-work life.”
YouTube Yoga and Bend
Beyond mental health, other apps help maintain your physical well-being. Several respondents recommended YouTube’s yoga videos. Matt Thompson of Lost and Grounded says it has helped him. Sarah Swenson concurs, noting that she squeezes in a 15 to 30 minute workout on YouTube every morning and then balances the exercise with text chats with her Talkspace therapist throughout the week.
Jenny Pfäfflin of Dovetail Brewing recommends the Bend app and even uses it to “do stretches during mash rests.” She notes that it “makes running up and down stairs all day and lifting malt bags and stuff a little more bearable.”
Taking A Digital Break or Simply Logging Off
Beyond apps and websites, many folks responded that simply taking a break from work emails and their phones was key to maintaining a proper work-life balance and sustaining their mental health. They recommended setting up sleep mode settings and notifications on their devices. Katie Arabella noted that her phone “notifies me when I need to start getting to sleep so if I’m out and have had one too many that notification
gets me off my ass and on my way home.”
Ruth Mitchell of Elusive Brew notes that she puts “sleep or do not disturb mode on once I’m home and have finished everything urgent, and at the weekend. I can still check messages and emails but don’t have constant notifications.”