By Caroline Fleck
10 Best Smartphone Apps for Health and WellnessUploaded: May 10, 2015
Over the years, my clients, colleagues, and I have experimented with countless apps related to various psychology topics. I now have a few tried and true health and wellness apps to which I consistently refer my clients based on the issues with which they present.
Below is a list of my top 10 favorite apps according to topic. Some of the links I've included are for Android, most are for IOS, but regardless of the links provided, these apps should all be available across platforms. Many of them are also free!
As a side note, I should mention that I'm not affiliated with any of the app developers, nor do I profit from their purchase or use. I do, however, highly recommend them!
Awareness is often a critical step in changing behavior. In the context of psychology, research suggests that monitoring your mood, thoughts, and behaviors can help increase awareness and ultimately foster positive changes in these domains. The apps I recommend for self-monitoring are:
1. You Cognize - A simple app for monitoring anxiety and depression. Your history is stored so you can view changes and patterns over time. You can also choose to share your results with others, such as a healthcare provider.
2. Mood-Log - My clients LOVE this app. You can easily select your mood using adjectives (sad, frustrated, annoyed) or emoticons. You can add thoughts and track other variables like your energy level, distractibility, and stress. The app allows you to set reminders, summarizes your data into graphs and charts, and can also be emailed to others if you so choose.
Anxiety and Stress:
There are all sorts of strategies for reducing anxiety and distress in the moment. Unfortunately, the more distressed you are, the more difficult it is to remember to use these strategies, or to use them effectively. The following apps can help you determine if and how to use various stress management techniques:
3. Azumio Heart Rate Monitor - This handy app allows you to get an instant heart rate reading. My recommendation is to establish what your normal resting heart rate is. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take your heart rate, and it is 5-10 bpm above your established resting heart rate, that's a good indication that you are getting physiologically flooded and could benefit from trying a stress management technique.
4. Breathe 2 Relax- The perfect follow up to the heart rate monitor, Breathe 2 Relax helps you develop diaphragmatic breathing - one of the most reliable stress management techniques.
5. Relaxation - Another app to facilitate deep breathing. This one offers guided and unguided deep breathing exercises, as well as a Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) exercise. PMR is another common technique used to decrease stress and anxiety.
6. Live OCD Free - This is a pretty powerful, albeit expensive, app for folks with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It can be used as a supplement to OCD treatment, or as a stand alone intervention for those who are disciplined enough to work through the exercises in the app.
Readers of my blog know the value of mindfulness meditation. The following apps are excellent tools for helping you establish and develop a meditation practice:
7. Insight Timer - Provides a simple and effective way of timing your sitting meditations. The app offers several chiming bell sounds to use at the onset and conclusion of your practice. It also provides stats and charts of your practice data.
8. JKZ - An amazing app provided by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world renowned mindfulness researcher and trainer. Listeners learn the meditations he teaches in his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and are guided through the meditations by Kabat-Zinn himself.
Diet and Exercise:
The market is flooded with apps to help you target diet and exercise. My favorites are:
9. My Fitness Pal - A quick and easy way to track your diet, exercise, and food intake. Provides a more complex breakdown of calorie intake including carbohydrates, protein, etc., as well as how close you are to meeting your daily dietary needs.
10. The Scientific Seven Minute Workout - This app provides a fast and efficient workout. The exercises and sequence itself have a fair amount of research behind them and were popularized in a New York Times article by the same name.
So there you have it, the 10 apps this psychologist has found to be the most useful in helping clients achieve their health and wellness goals. Do feel free to post your own recommendations below in the comment section. I only ask that commenters please refrain from promoting apps from which they directly profit (no spam please).