The apps that have helped me improve my wellbeing...
... as well as a couple that have ended up in the recycling bin.
But first: some praise from a fan. One of my best mates, who I have been friends with for over half my life, recently gave these blog posts a ringing endorsement: "I always think, 'God, I don't have time to read this', but then I read them and they're actually not that long!" So here's another not-that-long blog post for your consideration/reading pleasure.
This app gives me daily helpful reminders about the healthy habits that I've set for myself each day (like taking medication and vitamins, drinking enough water, meditating), which I might otherwise forget. I have about a dozen habits that I'm tracking, some of them much more successfully than others; with completion rates currently varying from 92% (woo-hoo!) to 11% (whoops!) But regardless, I'm doing all of those healthy habits more than I used to. Progress, not perfection.
This one is a fairly straight-forward to-do list. You can create different lists for different categories of to-dos – I have one that is purely fun activities that I want to do and places I want to go, so it's not all boring snoring chores.
You can assign deadlines to things, but you don't have to. Sometimes I give myself lots of things to get done in one day and then get overwhelmed and shift most of them to next week, and the app and I both pretend like it never happened.
If you don't exclusively follow Kardashians and Kardashian-wannabes, and don't Inta-stalk your ex's new partner so aggressively that you cry all over your phone and have to leave it in a bag of uncooked rice to soak up the excess moisture, Instagram can be a great source of inspiration.
Personally, it's helping me to broaden my perspectives on what is beautiful. I follow a lot of amazing babes with very different body types. If I can look at a photo of a woman twice the size of me in a bikini and think she looks slammin, then hopefully I will feel more confident next time I have to put a swimming cossie on.
It's also jam-packed with incredible photography, illustrations, poetry... everything that is good and pure in this world, as well as a lot of trash and nonsense but that's life honey.
A note on meditation:
I meditate nearly every day – I swear by it – but I don't actually use any apps for it. I mostly use guided meditation videos on YouTube, of which there are literally millions, but I'm aware that there are some hugely popular apps like Calm and Headspace which many people love to use.
Those that ended up in the recycling bin:
This one was a real judgemental judy. As if the idea of an app telling you how many times you pick up your phone and how long you spend on it wasn't nerve-wracking enough, it sends you numerous reminders each day about how incredibly long you spend on your phone and how bad that is. It's a good idea, but it didn't help me cut down on my phone use. If you are struggling with phone over-use and/or using you phone to 'numb out' the burden of anxiety, it can quickly become yet another source of shame, stress and nagging.
5. Drink Less
I actually got on well using this for a few weeks, and it did help me track and cut down on how much alcohol I was consuming, but there were a few aspects that I really didn't like:
A) the rigidity of the tracking (it once told me I hadn't met my weekly target because I was 0.2 units over);
B) the traffic light colour system (green for good and red for bad) and smiley face/sad face icons that made me feel like I was back in primary school;
C) the fact that it measures your alcohol consumption against that of the 'average person' – that is, how much the average person says they drink. I've seen Secret Eaters; I know that plenty of people who claim they eat three healthy meals a day actually have a KFC Family Bucket for elevenses and another one for a midnight snack, and put a bucket of full-fat cream and half a pig in their spaghetti carbonara. People are liars.