Treat yourself to a really good stretch.

A two-part message today, starting with a nudge, and ending with an update on the experiment I’m running with Signpost, our new online emotional-management tool.

Let’s begin, then, with a quick reminder of how closely connected your emotional health and physical health are.

With so much sickness around this time of year in the northern hemisphere, I’m sure you’re familiar with how rotten someone can feel, mentally, when they’re suffering from a cold.

Perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself this winter, but even if you haven’t, you’ll probably have observed others coughing, sneezing, and complaining their way through the day.

However, just as low physical health can make you feel mentally drained, the opposite can also be true.

Actively taking care of your physical well-being can give your emotions a much-needed boost, too.

Now, I bet you’re expecting me to remind you to get some exercise, eat healthily, drink more water, or something like that.

Well, although they’re all great ideas, no, actually.

This nudge is something much easier to do, but is an action it’s all too easy to forget.

I’m talking about the terribly simple idea of stretching.

Yup, simply taking a moment or two to s-t-r-e-t-c-h your muscles.

Go on, try it now.

Stretching is relaxing, and it can put you in touch with your body.

If you’re able, here’s a great back stretch known as the “standing cat-camel.”


Here’s how to do it:

1. Begin by standing with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent.

2. Lean forward and place your hands on your legs, just above your knees.

3. Curve your back, with your shoulders forwards, and your chest closed.

4. Now arch your back backwards, opening your chest and rolling your shoulders back. Arms in the air, if you like.

5. Rinse and repeat a few times.

It can feel especially good if you’re spending long periods sitting at your desk.

In fact I’m going to stretch right now.

Ah, that’s better.

So, one good stretch later, how are things progressing with the beta test of Signpost?

Last week I asked for volunteers to experiment with a seven-day trial of the app I’m working on.

It provides daily feedback and tips to your smartphone in audio form, recorded by yours truly.

I’m happy to say that lots of people have kindly offered to help, so this week I’m phasing in over 200 willing individuals.

It has made sense to introduce people in several waves, to ensure the systems are working as expected.

So far, there have been no serious malfunctions (although I’m sure I’ve jinxed it by saying that) and some really positive reactions.

It’s not too late to add yourself to the list of trialists, and thank you if you do, or already have done.

More details on what I’m learning next week.

Meantime, I’m getting the bottom of how many digits there are in a Dutch cellphone number, and how to work out what time you need to instruct a server in South Africa (when you yourself are on California time) to send a text to New Zealand, at 8 AM local time. It’s complicated.

11 thoughts on “Treat yourself to a really good stretch.

  1. Great suggestion and wonderful to have a cat to show us how to do it properly! Good luck with the tricky time differences as you roll out Signpost. I really enjoyed hearing your voice yesterday. Your analysis was also spot on. I was trying to stay calm and composed which is why some of my answers made it sound as if everything was fine. But you – or the algorithm that you’ve set up? – correctly detected an undercurrent as I was seething and simmering with anger about an unfair/unjust response from my husband – who believes in the “never apologise, never explain” maxim.
    Thank you for recognising my anger and hurt and helping me get over it.

    1. Thanks for the reflections, Rebecca. Happy to hear that Signpost may have hit the spot for you yesterday. Over the past year, I’ve become particularly interested in the idea that even on days when we think we’re doing pretty well, there are sometimes undercurrents of something else going on. In your case, you were seething and simmering (sorry!).

      Good to hear that you recognised it and started to get over it.

  2. Sounds like it was me causing you problems with the 8am nudge in New Zealand, sorry about that!

    Just a quick note to say that I have recently joined a yoga group at work and I know the “standing cat-camel” and it is a good stretch.

    I don’t look as good as the ‘cat’ does though, when I do it?

    Loving the ‘Signpost” message and scoring system.
    I don’t think I’ve ever got 90+ in anything before!

    1. Please don’t apologise, Paul! I was only using the NZ example to show some of the complicated maths I’m having to do at the moment.

      Delighted to hear you’re up to date with your stretching exercises.

      And happy to hear you’re flying high on Signpost. That’s got to feel good.

  3. Oh my gosh jon! Tried Signpost for the first time yesterday evening and it’s astonishingly good. It must have taken a lot of work, thank you so much. Great to have the tips on “building reserves” when you’re feeling good also, as this is something I seem to overlook, so you have given me much food for thoυght this weekend as to how I can do this. It’s also lovely to have a voice in your ear, I expect this will be comforting on days when I am feeling less sparkling. Also, super impressed by the text reminder that arrived this morning. I have added you to my address book so your texts now proudly declare “Jon @ Signpost”!
    Interestingly I am finding there is at least a 15% difference in score between Signpost and Moodscope.

  4. Morning Jon,

    WOW. I am genuinely AMAZED by Signpost. Tried it first on Friday evening on a comparatively good day and found your suggestions about building your “mental reserves.” extremely helpful, as this is something I have probably overlooked in the past.

    I am still using Moodscope as well, and you might be interested to know that there seems to be a 15% difference between how scores come out on there (mine, at least) and Signpost. Don’t know whether that means one is more accurate than the other, but I have to say I was completely floored when your “nudge” today detected an undercurrent of anger which I hadn’t really acknowledged. I have no idea how you’ve organised the programming, but it must have taken a huge amount of work and is incredible!

    I didn’t get my reminder text this morning, but I was impressed yesterday when my phone binged to tell me I should do my score. I have added you to my address book so now any texts should proudly proclaim “Jon @ Signpost”.

    On a separate note, I am sad to hear that Moodscope is struggling and hope to raise funds to keep it going (along with others, I hope) in the coming months. Even though I don’t subscribe to the blog anymore (I haven’t since you left), it is still hugely helpful and quite simply too good for us to lose.

    Goodness, whilst writing this I have just had another text with a little inspirational, uplifting note… this is coming from another number though, so I shall add it along with the other one. THANK YOU 🙂

    1. Hello Kate. Many thanks for your enthusiasm, and super of you to have shared your thoughts. Very interesting about the difference overall between Signpost and Moodscope scores. Besides being about 15% different, I wonder if they correlate – as one goes up/down, so does the other, in sync?

      Perhaps too early to know, but it’ll be good to be able to compare the two, in due course.

        1. …and on another note, I notice that certain combinations appear to be picking up anger rather than anxiety, which is interesting, if a little unsettling!

          1. Thanks, Kate. Actually I’m just in the process of emailing our 240 trail-blazers to let people know that there is indeed a wobble in Signpost, which is suggesting that people are angry, when they’re not. Thank you for being so light-hearted about it, but I understand it’s not a great thing to be happening.

            Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon!

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