Our handy smartphones improve our lives in so many ways, from providing a source of entertainment to keeping us conveniently connected with loved ones and driving us to be punctual for our myriad of appointments throughout the week. Armed with a few handy apps, your smartphone could even help you to improve your health, wellness and general state of mind. I went on a wellness field trip without leaving home to check out some of the many health and wellness apps on the market. Here are a few of my favorites.
Happify promises to “increase your happiness with real, life-changing strategies confirmed by scientific research.” By participating in daily activities customized for your personality, the app teaches you skills to overcome adversities and develop habits for becoming a happier you. The games you play are designed to help you combat innate negative feelings and help you feel better about your life. For example, one game asked me to think back on my day and write down three things that made me happy, then evaluate how the activity made me feel. Another had me popping balloons in the sky, so long as I chose the balloons with “positive” words on them. According to Happify, they see some nice results, too, with 86% of members improving their life satisfaction in just two months of use. Access to the abbreviated program is free, with the full program running about $13/month, which drops to $6/month if you purchase a year in advance.
Make more informed choices when you buy household products using GoodGuide. They have reviewed over 200,000 household products and rated them based on safety/heath, environmental friendliness and business ethics. Each product is provided a score on a 1-10 scale in each of these categories, and the three scores are averaged together. GoodGuide believes that “better information can transform the marketplace,” and when informed consumers choose to buy better products, manufacturers will be forced to make changes to their products to improve them. I liked how they were able to give me specific reasons for a product’s score and when a product is given a lower score they provide suggestions for alternatives to consider purchasing instead. The free mobile app for iPhone and Android allows you to scan barcodes to receive more information about a product and assist you in your buying decisions.
Take the hard work out of deciphering nutrition labels with the ShopWell app. They provide a “score” from 1-100 in an attempt to highlight the overall nutrient density of foods in relation to your personal food needs. First, I went to the website and set up a profile, indicating my height, weight, gender, age, and any health concerns I had (medical conditions and food allergies). Then I searched for my favorite chips, to see if they made the cut. Sadly, they were a “medium” match for me, meaning I should only eat them in moderation. One cool thing: the nutrition label was personalized just for me, so I could see exactly what percentages applied to my personal calorie count. Once you’re in the store, scan food barcodes and ShopWell will provide you with food scores so you can avoid “red” items, and buy “green.” They even provide you with healthier substitutions so you can make better food choices.
For anyone who needs a voice of encouragement in their head, hypnotherapist Paul McKenna has developed an app that promises to help users reach their goals, from losing weight to sleeping better to overcoming common phobias. The“Paul McKenna – 7 Days Thin, Sleep, Confidence, Phobias” app is free to download through iTunes or the Google Play store, and after testing out the program with a free day, users can purchase the seven-day session they choose for $6.99 for weight loss, confidence or sleep improvement or $4.99 for each phobia, such as public speaking, claustrophobia and flying. App creators promise, “This app is designed to psychologically reboot your life by altering your thoughts, habits and patterns related to weight loss, confidence and sleep. Over seven life-changing days, [Paul McKenna] will serve as an interactive virtual hypnotherapist, guide and mentor, with customized coaching to serve your needs.”
Do you have trouble making a plan and sticking to it? Irunurun (“I run, U run”) is a habit tracker that helps you set specific goals and then achieve them using the app to track your progress on a week-by-week basis. Irunurun says, “…this is not a to-do list. Think of [us] as a should-do list.” Have a weight-loss goal in mind? Set small objectives for your diet and exercise regimen you’d like to accomplish during the week. The process works for work goals, relationships and even “breaking” a bad habit. Choose to share your progress with friends or co-workers if you like, so you can encourage each other to achieve mutual goals. Irunurun is available for iPhone and browser interface, and the personal version is free to use for up to seven goals per week.
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