Counselor self-care: Apps to get you there

Meet Morris, my iPhone!

I LOVE MY iPHONE. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive in November. Yes, I fit the Millenial generation stereotypes pretty well, although I’m not completely glued to it. It’s a great tool, so why not use it to its full advantage?

We all have self-care needs and goals, whether those are eating better, exercising more, or even being more creative. The iPhone, with its eleventy-billion apps, can be a really helpful tool in achieving some of those goals. Here’s a tiny smattering of helpful apps, based on my own needs.

Sleep: Smart Alarm Clock, Arawella, $1.99? (I can’t look up prices once I’ve bought the app. Sorry!) Earlier when I was having insomnia trouble this year, I purchased this app to track my sleep. You actually sleep with the phone up near your pillow, so that it can track your movements and thus supposedly your sleep cycles. It can also record nighttime sounds, in case there’s something waking you that you’re not aware of. This is a hilarious/kind of embarrassing feature. I also enjoyed the included relaxation sounds. Two things are keeping me from using the app right now: the cord situation near the bed (which has nothing to do with the usefulness of this app), and the fact that the sounds were bothering my husband. In all, not too bad.

Meditation: Insight Timer, Spotlight Six, $1.99. So…This app times your meditation and gives you tones at certain intervals you set. The tones are sounds of various Tibetan singing bowls, which is way cooler than the normal iPhone timer. You can keep a diary of your progress, as well as connect with others using the app. However, I haven’t done either of these things, so I realized I paid $1.99 for a really fancy timer. Huh. BUT! I like the bowl sounds. This one is your call.

Diet: Fooducate (basic), Fooducate Ltd., free. The Fooducate app scans a food’s barcode in order to bring up information about that food, such as possible toxins, additives, and healthier alternatives. It’s super nifty! My husband and I pretty much scanned everything in the fridge and were alarmed to find that our mayonnaise contains a possible toxin. No worries, Fooducate listed several alternatives to buy next time! This is great if you need to buy any kind of processed food. (And let’s face it…I know Louie and I do not have time to make 100% of our food from scratch, like bread and mayo, and you probably don’t, either. Kudos if you do.) I hope the company creates something similar for cosmetic products. For the price, Fooducate is worth it!

Exercise: All-In Yoga, Arawella, $0.99. I cannot believe I paid only $0.99 for this app. Here’s why: I have a kinesthetic intelligence quotient of approximately 0. I’m not quite at Alice Bradley levels, which to be honest, surprises me, but I could sure relate to her post. I really, really want to be decent at yoga, and I know that there are proper ways to do the poses, but I have no idea how they should feel or what they do. All-In Yoga lists 300 poses grouped by difficulty, with written descriptions, video, and muscle diagrams accompanying each one. IT’S AMAZING. Oh, so table pose is for your back and ab muscles? Good to know, because I honestly didn’t! You can create your own workouts, use the existing ones, and track your progress on the calendar. Holy cow!

Moods: Track and Share Lite, Track and Share Apps LLC, free. I haven’t gotten to use this too much yet. It tracks factors influencing mood, diet, water intake, sleep, general health, and even gratitude. The app took a minute to figure out how to use it, but once you figure it out, it can be fairly flexible and adaptable. Then you can put your daily stats together to compile graphs and see trends over time. Nifty!

Keeping life chaos to a minimum: Wunderlist, 6 Wunderkinder, free. This app does one simple thing–it helps you create to-do lists. The great part is that you can download the program to your computer, phone, iPad, whatever, and all of your lists will sync to each device so that you always know what’s due. I use this as my weekly homework tracker during the semester, and right now have other lists for house projects, weekend projects, and things to complete by June. Checking things off my lists is very satisfying!

Creativity:¬†Instant Poetry, Razeware LLC, free(?). This app is, essentially, magnetic poetry for your phone–and it’s a great way to use some of those fabulous, moody Instagram photos you’ve accumulated. You can choose from your photo files for a background, then create a poem with one of three word themes. Then, if you’re in a sharing mood, you can post your creation to Facebook or Twitter. It’s a great way to pass a few minutes waiting for the bus.

Honorable mention for creativity: Reactable Mobile, Reactable Systems SL, $9.99. A reactable is actually a type of electronic musical instrument. From what I can gather, the reactable app experience is very similar to the real-life reactable experience, although the app comes with an online community of other reactable user sharing their musical creations online. We have this on our iPad, although I haven’t gotten to use it because the iPad is generally with my husband. He said it’s a little complex, but has had fun experimenting with it. If anyone reading this has used the app, what did you think?

Anyone have any other good self-care apps? I’d love to review some new ones!

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