Team Calm

AND NOW TO SOOTHE YOU INTO DREAMLAND ... THE SHIPPING FORECAST

 

The late-night Shipping Forecast on the BBC is a maritime weather report, a British institution, a national treasure and … an accidental natural sleep aid of rare potency.

Now Britain’s strange “national lullaby” is becoming a bedtime story for grown-ups… in the form of a new Sleep Story

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@@The late-night Shipping Forecast on the BBC has been sending Britons gently to sleep for nearly a century.@@ This inspired us to turn it into a Sleep Story with hopes that people across the world could benefit from this tried, tested and true natural sleep aid. 

The Shipping Forecast is a broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the British Isles – and is delivered four times a day on BBC Radio 4. 

Peter Jefferson, the former BBC continuity announcer – and a distant relation of Thomas Jefferson – who became known as “the voice of the Shipping Forecast” after four decades of reading it on the BBC, has recorded a special new version for us, complete with unusually calm maritime conditions.  

He also delivers his own introduction, which explains for the benefit of beginners the forecast’s history, background and special place in the UK’s national life. 

 
 

First issued in 1861, as a forecast of maritime conditions for those at sea, it has been broadcast by the BBC since 1924. Down the years, it has seeped into Britain's national consciousness and become a symbol of the country and a treasured part of national life, while continuing to play a crucial role providing gale warnings and maritime forecasts. 

“The version of it broadcast last thing at night”, says Jefferson, 71, “has been likened to a meditation, a mantra and a kind of lullaby since for many people it is not just rhythmic, familiar and soothing but also the last thing they listen to at night before falling asleep.” 

Many faithful listeners today may find The Shipping Forecast the perfect cure for insomnia but it was and is designed for seafarers rather than landlubbers, and always starts like this:

“And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency...” 

The remote, outlying parts of the British Isles and surrounding seas that the Shipping Forecast refers to are places that most listeners have never visited and could not point to on a map but which, thanks to The Shipping Forecast, form a nightly litany of strange yet familiar names that has become part of their lives.  

 
shipping news for insomnia

The Shipping Forecast has inspired poetry – as well as literature, theatre, comedy and music – and been called poetry itself. @@“Can there be anything in any language to match the poetry of the Shipping Forecast?”@@ asked The Guardian, when Jefferson finally parted company with the BBC. “I doubt it.” 

 

The version of The Shipping Forecast that is read at the end of the day, when most people are tucked up in bed, is preceded by an extract from a short piece of light music called Sailing By, and is broadcast just before one o’clock in the morning. 

Sailing By is a slow, swooning, Mantovani-style waltz, with a repetitive tune that helps sailors tuning in to identify the right radio station. It was written by the British composer, Ronald Binge in 1963, but first played before the late-night Shipping Forecast in 1967 – 50 years ago this year. It has by now become an integral, if not iconic part of the late-night Shipping Forecast. 

 
shipping news for sleep
 

Peter Jefferson first joined the BBC in 1964. He began his four decades of broadcasting the Shipping Forecast barely a couple of years after the introduction of Sailing By and ended it in 2009. 

In the intervening years, he was not the only BBC announcer to present the Shipping Forecast but he became the doyen of the art. “For this daily dose of the beautiful to work, nothing is more important than the god who administers it”, wrote The Guardian. “None has been more perfect in the last few years than Peter Jefferson, the voice of perfect modulation.” 

 

He is also perhaps the world’s leading authority on the Shipping Forecast, having not just broadcast it for 40 years but also written a praised book on it, which was published in 2011 with the title, And Now The Shipping Forecast

“People used to write to me saying how soothing they found it after a long day to hear this familiar mantra and say, ‘I love it when you send me to sleep at night reading the ships’. @@‘I love it when you send me to sleep at night reading the ships’@@

“Well, I hope I haven’t lost my knack, and that our new recording will now have the same effect on many new listeners across the world.” 

To listen to this unique Sleep Story visit the Calm app or website.

 
 
 

What is ASMR?

 
 

For the unacquainted, autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, refers to the experience of a pleasurable tingling sensation that is triggered by particular stimuli.

A sort of euphoria is possible for some people while listening to quiet ambient noise or the sound of a whisper.

Many people report that ASMR offers relief from insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The evidence just might be in the millions of youtube views. Over the past few years, the video sharing platform has become a popular way to seek out an ASMR experience. 

Given that part of our mission at Calm is to help you sleep better, we decided to explore this phenomenon. We reached out to self-identified ASMRtist, Emma Whispers Red, to see if she could enchant us into slumber.

Check out Emma's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection. Let us know if you get the tingles

Also, learn more about ASMR in the following interview with Emma and Calm Co-founder, Michael Acton Smith. 

 
 

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered ASMR?

My name is Emma, and I'm an ASMR content creator on YouTube. As long as I can remember, a calming 'tingly sensation' has been a part of my normal sensory experience. I loved the sense of contentment that I felt drifting off during story time or while my brother and sister drew letters on my back. When I tried to talk about it with others, I realized that not everyone shared my experience. Over time, I shied away from speaking about it, but still savoured the feeling whenever it arose. After a road accident which resulted in numerous operations, almost a year where I was unable to walk, and trouble falling asleep, I searched for relaxation videos on YouTube. That's when I discovered ASMR videos and that others also experience the same sensation that I'd been feeling since I was young. 

What exactly is ASMR?

ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It's a tingly/sparkly sensation that usually begins in the crown of the head and works its way down the back and through the limbs. The feeling is extremely relaxing and is often triggered by soft sounds, soft voices, whispering and light touching. Many people have an ASMR experience during a head massage or a facial, having their hair played with or while someone strokes their arm. Most individuals who experience ASMR, have strong memories of when this feeling was triggered as a child. For me, I always remember enjoying eye tests, having my hair played with and quiet time in class as the other students read books and slowly turned the pages. I create videos with the intention of inducing this feeling in the viewer. 

 
 

How does ASMR relate to calm?

I've heard many people in the ASMR community talk about the Calm app. We understand the use of sound for relaxation and sleep. Personally, I know how important it is to have tools that I can turn to when I am struggling to sleep or relax. As a content creator, I receive emails regularly from viewers telling me how my videos have helped them through tough times. ASMR videos are said to put us into a meditative state and bring about presence. The ability to share ASMR digitally means that people can get the support they need when they need it. ASMR videos and Calm both offer accessible relief from day-to-day stress.

Does everybody have the same response to ASMR?

Not everyone experiences the sensation of ASMR. Even for those who experience it, the videos made to induce it are not always appealing. Each person has a unique set of triggers, in the same way, that people prefer different food or music. That's why there is a huge variety of content available. 

Some people who have never heard of ASMR videos or who have different sensitivities find it hard to understand the intention behind them or why others might enjoy them. At first glance, some videos seem quite intimate, so I can understand the confusion. There is also a phenomenon, known as Misophonia, which is an aversion to some sounds. So crunching paper or mouth sounds can produce a kind of opposite ASMR effect! 

 
 

How big is the global ASMR community?

The first 'Whisper Video' was made in 2009. The term ASMR came later. Since then, the community of "experiencers" which includes both viewers and content creators has grown rapidly. One video alone can accrue millions of views as individuals will use it on several occasions to drift off to sleep. In addition to those who feel the tingly sensation, those who simply enjoy sounds and voices as a means of relaxation have joined the ASMR community. Millions of kind and sensitive people find a common connection in sound. It's a global phenomenon that continues to gain momentum every month. ASMR has become so popular, that we're finding the techniques used in advertising and even famous actors have tried their hand at making videos. It's a lot of fun and wonderful to see, but for me being able to reach out to others with love, kindness, acceptance, and courage is everything. Sensitive people of the world unite! We're taking over!

 
Listen to Emma Whisper Red's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection tonight.

Listen to Emma Whisper Red's ASMR version of The Velveteen Rabbit in our Sleep Stories collection tonight.

 

About Emma 

I am an ASMR content creator on YouTube and film videos in a little shed in my garden. This lovely feeling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child I was sensitive, introverted and definitely a daydreamer. Over time, the tingles became a soothing tool, something dear to me and a form of escapism. From daydreaming in class to falling asleep listening to sounds from downstairs, it was a personal experience and I felt very lucky to have it. It kept me calm when the whole world around me wasn’t. I did over time try to explain it to others in my life but was often met with blank looks even halfway through the first sentence. It was always very hard to explain and after time, I stopped. Later though, I found that my younger Brother experiences it. He named it ‘The Golden Feeling’ a perfect description.

Be Your Valentine!

No matter our relationship status, our capacity to love and be loved relates to our ability to love ourselves. 

The concept of self-love is often tossed around as if it were easy or some place to arrive (like the top of the mountain, you're either there or your not). The truth is, it's more like meditation, it's a practice. 

Some days it's romantic like taking a bubble bath or buying yourself something special. Other days, it's ordinary like making your lunch and paying your bills. You might be rolling your eyes right now, but just imagine if someone were to make you lunch and pay your bills, you might find yourself in awe of their generosity. However, when was the last time you thanked yourself for doing these things? Recognizing all of the work you do to take care of yourself is an act of self-love. 

Another way to show love to yourself is to listen inward so that you can understand what you need and then honor whatever arises. So often, our body or heart communicates something to us, and we say that's silly, you shouldn't need that or you don't deserve that. What would happen if the next time you became aware of exhaustion, you gave yourself permission to take a nap?  

Or, the next time you stood in front of the mirror, you looked for the beauty (or the handsome)?  

At Calm, we believe these acts of self-love add up and enrich the love we feel for ourselves and others. So whether you're single, in a relationship or it's complicated make sure to send yourself a valentine.

 

With love, 

The Calm team

When saying no is the nicest thing you can do

The younger me wanted to be friends with eeeeveryone. She wanted everyone to like her, or at least ‘be okay’ with her. She hated to disappoint, or upset, or anger anyone. In the end though, this meant that the only person who was disappointed, upset or angered was myself. This was exhausting. 

Then one day – one of those days when I was thoroughly exhausted and fed up – a friend asked me this hard question: “Are you your best self when you’re with these people and doing these things?”

That question fired up something bright, a single flicker in a dark room and the answer came immediately: of course I wasn’t at my best; I was too depleted to be. It was revolutionary to me to realize that so much of what I was doing was actually stopping me from fully being me. I’d spent so much time and energy worrying about how to keep everyone else happy that I didn’t have anything left for me. I wasn’t expanding, I wasn’t developing the things I was passionate about or broadening any of the good qualities I was fortunate enough to have. I was just… there, hovering at the flattest, broadest, most stagnant plateau there was just so I could get through each day ensuring that everyone around me was pleased with me (or at least not displeased). 

The same friend went on to point out a second hard truth (she wasn’t mincing her words that afternoon): that although I was ‘being nice’ to everyone by answering their calls for help, volunteering to do everything and never saying no to requests, I was actually being quite dishonest about it all. And that’s not very nice. 

Back up. Dishonest? But I only wanted everyone to be happy. How could that be dishonest? 

She was right though. I was agreeing to all these things and nodding along to requests, but then going away and feeling resentful, tired and reluctant. Because these weren’t necessarily things that I personally wanted to do, and these people weren’t all people that I was particularly close to and loved, a lot of what I was doing was half-hearted, even slightly angry. I went into things – tasks, offers of help, friendships – with plenty of zeal to please but at heart, I felt mostly dread, annoyance or sheer indifference. The truth to hit me hardest was realizing that I didn’t actually care about what I was doing anymore. 

For all I was doing to try to be nice, I wasn’t of any real service to anyone, not least myself. As much as I felt like a champion of doing so many things and being so many people’s friend, none of it was making me more of me. Actually, it was diminishing who I was; I had become a miserable, downtrodden shadow of the person I was. 

I had to change what I was doing because it was too exhausting to continue that way. Since then – and it’s been a long, hard road – I’ve learnt to very carefully and gently say no to things, situations and people as soon as I start to feel like something is making me back down on myself. By that, I mean I feel less able to be myself, or that something is pulling me directions I don’t actually enjoy or am uncomfortable with. 

This could be something as simple as choosing not to engage in a difficult conversation, to something more complex like stopping contact altogether with people who I feel are being too demanding or on very different paths to my own. It could mean literally saying no to a request; or more subtly, being discerning about who I choose to spend my time and energy with. 

Sometimes, I decline all social invitations and stay in the whole weekend with nobody but myself and mugs of tea – and know that this is totally okay and kind and honest to everyone, even the people I’ve said no to. It is okay because these are the days I build myself back up to my fullest potential and charge my spiritual, emotional and mental batteries. It is okay because I know that when I do start interacting again, I’m clear-headed enough to choose to surround myself with situations and people that are going to uplift me and enable me to give my best to whomever I’m with.  

People-pleasing has become a scourge of our modern day sensibilities. Of course it’s important to be sensitive, mindful and as kind as possible to the people around us, but if trying to fulfill all these demands on our time and energy restricts our own growth, dampens our spirits and tires us out, we’re not giving of ourselves fully anyway. We give only partially, perhaps begrudgingly and distractedly – so how helpful is that going to be to anyone anyway? How much can we really give or do – for ourselves or anyone else – when we’re running on empty? 

Sometimes, I’ve learnt, the kindest thing we can do is to say no, to step back, to unashamedly enjoy the rest and quiet we need for ourselves, recharge and recalibrate. Then, when we do say yes, it’s an emphatic one – yes! We make the deliberate choice to engage with what energizes us, what supports us to contribute the best we have to bring with us, what makes us fuller, more joyful, more excited and curious. 

Then we know that when we finally say yes, it is truly a good thing for our own growth, clarity, happiness and peace of mind. And if that’s making us the fullest, brightest beings we can be, we are offering the best of ourselves to the people we choose to spend our time with.

Now that’s really nice. 


Jamie Khoo is currently doing a PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK, where she is researching contemporary constructions of feminine beauty and body image. She has also written for Elle MalaysiaHuffington Post UK Blogs, Time Out Kuala Lumpur, elephant journal and the be you media group. Sick of being told by mass media and society what “beautiful” is or isn't, Jamie founded the website a beauty full mind to challenge conventional beauty ideals and create new conversations around what beauty can mean today. Say hello to her on Facebook or email hello@abeautyfullmind.com

Are affirmations wearing you down?

My mother worries constantly about not being able to find parking, working herself into such a great frenzy that she often chooses not to go out at all. While it’s true that my hometown is notorious for its messy traffic and terrible drivers, no one else I know has nearly as much difficulty finding a parking spot as she does. 

She is also proof that affirmations work – parking causes her an inordinate amount of stress because she actively reminds and reinforces to herself how stressful it is. 

A lot has been written about the power and potential of positive affirmations for directing us towards goals and aspirations. I’ll admit I’ve found it difficult to do the whole thing of standing in front of a mirror reciting uplifting mantras to myself – it has often felt inauthentic. Telling myself ‘I’m a beautiful, strong, confident woman’ doesn’t only feel untrue; it feels a bit silly. 

But seeing my mother manifest her own stress around parking got me reconsidering how affirmations work, whether or not we really believe in them, and whether they’re corny bumper sticker sayings, or beliefs we hold in the quieter spaces of our minds. 

My mother’s daily traffic stress might seem a little trivial – not finding parking isn’t cause for a great deal of anxiety – but the affirmations add up. All the little things become big things if you think about them enough and before you know it, you’re a testy, edgy ball of misery. 

Because of all the political upheaval around the world this year, a lot of us can’t help but be sucked into thinking and talking frequently about what are often incredibly agitating issues. I’ve started noticing how people around me are winding themselves up far more than they actually need to.

Whether it’s looking for things that are ‘wrong’, or reading negativity into situations, or just talking incessantly about the things that upset us, I’ve recently noticed how we repeatedly invite negativity into our lives. 

Once we’re weighed down by this negativity, our actions and reactions to things around us inevitably become colored by what we’re feeling and the energy, mood and beliefs we surround ourselves with. What we’re doing is affirming how miserable things are, which does nothing but reinforce the misery, create more of it and shroud us in a shadow of gloom. We probably all know a Debbie Downer like this who’s always moaning about how awful she feels, how bad everything and everyone is to her, who always has some big drama happening in her life that seems to physically grow every time she talks about it (which is often). 

It goes back to that old saying that we get what we put out into the world. Clichéd maybe, but also very true. It’s like the universe saying to us, ‘Hey, so you want misery? Here’s more!’ 

We can’t expect to put out one vibration and get something else in return. It’s like a radio – we can’t tune into a channel full of white noise on 55.5FM and expect to receive the top ten hits playing on 100.1FM. This seems obvious, but this is also what we do every time we repeat those negative affirmations, whether in action or in word. We can’t keep tuning to a frequency of self-pity, for example, and expecting to get confidence in return. If we’re focused on failure, then even when success does come our way, we won’t be able to identify and appreciate it or see it as anything other than something bad. 

So how do we stop this vicious cycle? The important thing isn’t to deny our feelings completely, to shut off a bad day and sweep our anxieties under the carpet. I’ve found that it starts with simply acknowledging these worries or feelings, but not to allow them to take centre stage and define our day, our decisions and actions we take. It is not to allow these fears to form a whole new reality for ourselves that we believe, become invested in and act from. 

I have found that in every dark situation, there is still something positive we can focus on instead that serves as a focal point for directing our energy and attention outwards. There is the option to tune into a different channel. If negative affirmations are wearing us down, the surely the opposite of more positive thinking can work to uplift us. We might not win the lottery the very next day, immediately get the job we desire or land a perfect relationship, our hearts and minds can expand and react in gentler, kinder, more joyful ways to ourselves. 

To use the example of my mother again, she could reframe her parking anxiety to a gentler, simpler, open thought: The parking will be fine. She may not get a spot straight away, but she’ll get a space eventually, it just might take a few rounds. A positive affirmation and focus will allow her to remain calm and unruffled in that time that she’s circling the parking lot, rather than spiraling into panic, impatience, irritation and stress. 

Changing our affirmations may not completely solve our problems nor fulfill our wishes like a magic genie. But it will allow us to move into a space that is peaceful rather than agitated, open to receive rather than closed to opportunities, relaxed enough to respond thoughtfully rather than tense and reactive. 

When we’re in this space, then whatever does come about, we are more able to handle it in ways that are more mindful, effective, beneficial, peaceful and even joyful. We see a different perspective, feel a different vibe, find a different way of thinking. 

And then we act. 


Jamie Khoo is currently doing a PhD in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK, where she is researching contemporary constructions of feminine beauty and body image. She has also written for Elle Malaysia, Huffington Post UK Blogs, Time Out Kuala Lumpur, elephant journal and the be you media group. Sick of being told by mass media and society what “beautiful” is or isn't, Jamie founded the website a beauty full mind to challenge conventional beauty ideals and create new conversations around what beauty can mean today. Say hello to her on Facebook or email hello@abeautyfullmind.com

6 ideas for a sleep-friendly bedroom: for a sound night's sleep

We’ve spent the last 6 months dreaming up a big new feature at Calm and we’re excited to share it with you today.

It’s called Sleep Stories and is a unique new way of winding down every evening. 

Sleep Stories are soothing tales that mix music, sound effects and world class voice talent to help you drift off into dreamland.  

We believe there should be a more natural way for people to fall into a deep and restful sleep every evening. Our goal is to bring deep sleep and joy to millions of people around the world. 

Fittingly, we’re sharing our top 6 tips for creating a sleep-friendly bedroom to ensure a restful slumber every evening -

Invest in sleep props.

Invest in sleep props to help you on your way. Hang black out curtains to keep early morning light out during the summer months, and try earplugs if you are easily disturbed by noises.

Keep your bedroom decor simple and calm.

Avoid clutter, which can trigger your stress response, and make sure work papers are out of sight.

Opt for blue surroundings.

Opt for blue walls, or flashes of blue in soft furnishings: looking at this color can lead to a drop in your heart rate and blood pressure, and gentle blue hues are widely believed to have a soporific effect.

Keep a note pad or journal handy.

Keep a note pad or your journal by your bed. Then, instead of lying awake, worried you will forget something in the morning, you can write it down and allow the thoughts to pass.

Invest in a SAD lamp.

Invest in a SAD lamp which you can set to wake you up gently. Its light mimics sunlight and has been found to reduce the winter blues. It’s also a far more tranquil start to the day than a sudden blast of reality from your radio, or worse still, the blaring siren of a snooze alarm.

Listen to a Sleep Story.

Sleep Stories are particularly effective if you suffer from an overactive mind that goes into full whirr mode the minute your head hits the pillow. The soothing voices will send you off to dreamland in no time.

To celebrate we’ve made all the Sleep Stories in the Calm app completely free for a limited time. There are currently 22 to choose with new ones added all the time - stay tuned!

Why not try it out before bed tonight and let us know what you think?


The expansive joy of doing nothing

We are filled with busy-ness, wearing our full calendars like badges and armor. I know I often find a certain pride in turning to a new week in my diary and seeing it crammed full of scheduled meetings, lectures, lunches and dinners. I feel like I’m doing something! going somewhere! accomplishing! 

Recently though, I’ve found myself burning out, fizzling, slowing like wind-up toy winding down. All the busyness was keeping me, well, busy, but when I looked back on the past few weeks, I realized I hadn’t actually done anything. I haven’t felt creative in months, I’ve hardly done any writing and I’ve even struggled with reading more than a chapter of a book a time – a problem if you’re doing a PhD, as I am now. 

So, paralyzed by the overwhelming amount of work I needed to catch up on, I found myself one weekend unable to do anything at all. It’s like all the distractions, all the busyness finally added up and tipped the scale. I came to an abrupt halt. My body, dense and heavy and unmoving like a boulder, did not want to get out of bed. And finally, finally – I let myself stay there. 

There is something to be said about the value of rest – the negative to ‘doing’ which is just as valuable as the doing itself. Just as gym trainers advice us of the importance of having regular rest between vigorous work-out sessions, we need to accord ourselves that same mental stillness between all the things we do each day and each week. 

It is about breathing out, as much as it is breathing in. 

It is about allowing ourselves – body, mind and spirit – to take in as much as we expend in all our frantic doing. 

I know the idea of letting all of it go can be frightening. A part of us balks at the thought of absconding responsibilities, cancelling on people, not showing up. But this isn’t about giving up what we have to do. It’s about balancing all the things we have to do with moments of ‘doing nothing’ – and most importantly, allowing ourselves to sink into it, guilt free, knowing that this is just as important as the other things on our task list. (I have known people who, unable to relinquish their planners completely, schedule in time to do nothing). 

We can bring this whole, expansive nothingness into our lives in three ways: 

Do nothing during a task.

Allow yourself mini breaks between whatever it is you have to do, even if it’s just five minutes every hour. Do absolutely nothing but take 10 deep mindful breaths. If you can’t sit still, pick up your knitting for a few rows. Drink a cup of tea. Listen to your favorite song. 

Do nothing every day.

Find some time every day to just do nothing. This can be as short as 10 minutes when you first wake up in the morning, after work, or right before you go to bed. Give yourself time for you, whether it’s to ease into a new day or, at the end of the day, to let all the busyness you’ve had settle and dissipate. 


Do nothing for long(er) periods of time.

This could be taking a weekend to lie in bed, eat greasy takeout and read trashy novels, or going on a holiday. Proper periods of rest after being on the go for extended periods are so helpful for pressing that reset button, getting clarity and finding new inspiration. Let an auto-responder deal with your emails and don’t try to get updates from friends and colleagues.  

Whether it’s micro breaks or a big lush holiday, you’ll find that something magical happens in that empty space. When we’re not trying to fit ourselves into tightly constructed to-do lists and precisely divided hourly segments throughout the day, all the parts of us exhale and expand.

Instead of mentally and physically donning different hats to fulfill the multiple roles we set up for ourselves – student, employee, daughter, sister, friend, partner – we let ourselves just be. 

More importantly, as we relax into a place of doing nothing, the rigid boundaries we set up for accomplishing goals, finishing tasks and meeting people lift away.

All the different parts of ourselves reach across and connect to each other. Thoughts and events from one part of our life find their way over to other parts of our minds and inspire new thoughts, new ideas. 

As you sit and do nothing, a remnant from a conversation with a friend reminds you of a new approach to a work problem; a piece of music you’re listening to inspires you to start practicing the piano again