Like it or not, our smartphones have become an essential part of our health and wellbeing. Whether it’s connecting with friends or streaming music, for most of us, our phones play an important part in feeling good. There are a whole host of new ways we can use our everyday tech to boost our wellbeing.
Hack your period, manage your sleep cycle, ease stress and track your weight with our edit of the best wellness apps. After all, if we’re ordering takeaway and taxis with the tap of a button, why not meditation sessions too? Your body (and mind) will thank you for it.
Meditation and mindfulness are made simple with Headspace, the app that counts Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma Watson as fans. Led by former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe, the premise of Headspace is to take a few minutes a day to listen in and clear your mind.
There is a misconception that to do this you need to fight having any thoughts at all during meditation and the way to calm your mind is to control it and ignore everything. This, as Andy reminds you during all of the sessions, is not the way to go. Instead, the goal is to acknowledge distractions and invasive thoughts and then bring the attention back to the body or breath.
There are single sessions for when you’re feeling overwhelmed or about to lose your temper, and there are themed packs, including dealing with change, acceptance, depression and anxiety, as well as managing things like stress and restlessness.
Headspace tracks your journey so you can see how long you meditated each day and which sessions you followed, and it also counts your streaks congratulating you when you reach milestones like 10 or 15 days in a row. So, what are the benefits? Users report better attention spans, alertness and instant calm.
Swot-up on your cycle with period-tracking app Clue and learn more about how your period affects you. With the option to input symptoms such as cramps and headaches throughout the month, as well as lifestyle factors such as alcohol, sleep and sex, you’ll quickly build up a picture of how your cycle affects both your physical and mental health. The more input the app receives, the more accurate Clue becomes in predicting your cycle.
Logging the flow strength and accompanying symptoms can also be a clue into certain health conditions that affect your cycle, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome. And, if you’re trying to get pregnant, the app will help you identify your fertile window and when you’re ovulating. Alongside smart algorithms and doctor-reviewed informational content, Clue is an essential tool for any woman looking to get their period questions answered.
Do you feel like the quality of your sleep is compromised? Sleep Cycle relies on your smartphone’s accelerometer to monitor movement. The idea is that you place your smartphone near you in bed to register your movements. When you are in deeper sleep, especially REM, it will document this stillness. When you are restless towards morning, drifting into lighter stages of sleep, it will seize on this wakefulness to alert you to get up for the day.
You can choose an alarm sound (including a favourite song) and set your snooze options, including selecting a 30-minute period that you wish to awaken during. Then, each night after using it, Sleep Cycle creates a summary on the Statistics page that includes a hypnogram (showing sleep stages) as well as your bedtime and wake time, as well as total and average sleep time. The Trends tab will let you review your sleep quality for various periods (days, weeks and months).
While there are tons of yoga-related apps, none have captured the hearts of their users like the Down Dog App has – with stellar reviews across the board. Whether you’re a total beginner or a yoga pro, this handy app will let you practice yoga anywhere and everywhere. Choose your sequence type (full practice, restorative or quick flow), your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and length of time.
Tight hips or hamstrings? The free Down Dog app also gives you the choice to “boost” certain areas of the body where you’d like to direct more attention. The music options for this free yoga app are a really cool bonus too. Once you’ve made your selections, a unique, personalized yoga class is prepared just for you!
My Fitness Pal
Based on the principle that keeping track of what we do – including what we eat and how much we exercise – affirms our behaviours, My Fitness Pal (MFP) offers a relatively easy method of maintaining a balance sheet on that simple but elusive equation: what goes in, must come out (in a metabolic sense that is). You had a large latte yesterday, but a small one today? Walked 30 minutes last night at a moderate pace, but only managed a 20-minute leisurely stroll today?
MFP calculates the calories consumed from the food weight/volume and burned from exercise duration entered. By monitoring calories in and out throughout the day, you gain real-time feedback. MFP displays in green how many calories you have left in your day or if you’ve gone into the red on your goals. Along the way, you learn what foods are your calorie culprits, and appropriate serving sizes become far easier to judge.
What to Expect
If you’ve ever wondered how the eff pregnant ladies always seem to know when their baby’s the size of an avocado (16 weeks!) or a head of cauliflower (27 weeks!), well, there’s an app for that. This digital extension of the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting book is the holy grail of all things pregnancy. Everything you wanted to know about your bun (or avocado) in the oven is explained in depth in this app on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis.
The amazing weekly videos, daily pregnancy tips, reminders on screening tests, photo journal, community message boards and photo sharing are all the things that are necessary for a comprehensive maternity app that helps moms-to-be understand their changing body. The app also offers a comprehensive guide with all the expert advice and personalised support for the baby’s first year and beyond.