There is so much research about the negative results of overusing cell phones: neck/spine problems, weight gain, sleep loss, car accidents (as driver or pedestrian), anxiety, spreading germs, and increased risk of suicide, to name a few.
While these negative things are arguably true, there are some apps out there that focus on mental health and general health, which demonstrates that tech can be used for “good.” These are a few of our favorite healthy tech apps for mental health, physical health, and forming healthy habits.
One favorite app for mental health and positive thoughts is Thankful. Thankful shows a different word each time you swipe showing that there are many things to be grateful for in life. It’s a great app for focusing on the good and amazing parts of life rather than the negative.
#SelfCare is an app designed to help you spend a little bit more time with yourself… without distractions. This phone app isn’t intended to keep you looped in all day, but gives you self-care activities to do to ground and re-center yourself. Typically, you’ll spend a few minutes in the app at a time completing self-care tasks rooted in evidence-based theories on stress reduction and mindfulness. There aren’t a ton of distractions in the app, ensuring that you stay on task. The different activities also come with some inspiring messages to keep you dialed into your inner reality. When you tap your phone or computer in the app, you get a helpful reminder that this time isn’t about technology but more so just being present with yourself.
Talkspace allows users to connect virtually with a licensed therapist. For $49 per week, there’s private access to a therapist via text, audio or video chat, as often as daily or multiple times per day.
What’s Up helps individuals dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress through its habit tracker and diary options. It also enables users to communicate with other people and provides coping technique suggestions to calm a person.
On the intuitive eating side, the Am I Hungry? app is an excellent tool to help with mindful eating, as each time that you are tempted to eat it will ask you to make certain choices so that you eat mindfully.
For postpartum health and healing, The Matriarc focuses on wellness for women, helping them heal their minds and bodies post-childbirth. They have an educational newsfeed, 110 professional filmed exercises for the core and pelvic floor, audio meditations, restorative images, a breathing ring, and a community forum.
Believe it or not, the Fruit Street app can help prevent thousands of cases of diabetes. The app is a part of a digital diabetes prevention program. In short, it allows people to have a video conference with their own personal health coach who then provides feedback on your food journal (in a fashion that’s very similar to Instagram.)
There is also an app for chronic pain therapy, called Pathways. This app offers personalized pain therapy sessions which you can implement the takeaways in your day-to-day life. That should lead to at least a reduction, or in many cases the elimination, of chronic pain. Some issues they claim to help are: back pain, headaches and migraines, neck pain, fibromyalgia, joint pain, sciatica, and digestive issues.
Developed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, CBT-I Coach was designed to help people (including vets) with insomnia using an approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) that is well-researched and effective. CBT-I is considered the best treatment for insomnia.
For the fitness minded, Aaptiv is great because it gives people access to fun music and coaching for walking, running, stretching, and yoga. Aaptiv also offers meditation. It’s affordable and helpful for people who are starting to exercise for the first time as well as people who are more advanced but need a push to get back out there.
The seeming inability to quit something — whether it’s alcohol or Diet Coke or the daily coffee rituals blowing budgets — can lead to stress. Quit That! is a free app that tracks habits people are trying to quit and shows accomplishments along the way, like how long it’s been since quitting and how much money it’s saved.
Ambrosia Treatment Center recently launched HopeTracker, a brand-new online platform designed specifically for anyone who loves someone struggling with alcohol or other drugs. HopeTracker combines a 10-session crash course on addiction, community support and expert advice, and it’s available to the public for free. While it’s not an app per se, everything within the platform is fully optimized for mobile devices so it can be used anywhere at any time.
Is it bad to stare at your phone for hours on end? For sure. But to use some of that screen time for health and healing, that is screen time well-spent.