I’ve recently reached that hallowed point we all aspire to in our smartphone life: The point where your phone goes from a sinkhole of distraction, to something that actually makes your life better. My hours of App Store trawling have finally got to a place where I have just the right balance of apps. These babies help to handle my cray, work harder, feel happier, and get what I want done, done.
Like anything, these come with a disclaimer: Apps aren’t going to miraculously make your life better. To get anything out of them, you need to actually open them up and use them regularly. So, with that little lecture out of the way, my gift to you: Apps for what ails you.
Mindshift: Your one-stop anxiety shop
This app is a treasure trove of goodness for the anxious bears out there.
It has everything from information on anxiety, tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety in different situations, and inspirational quotes. It also has guided meditations.
You can even create your own personal plans for situations you want help with.
College Darlings coming up to exam time might find the ‘coping with test anxiety’ modules particularly useful.
MyFitnessPal: For helping you on your way to a healthy lifestyle
I’m not one of those people who think that losing weight is the equivalent to finding the elixir of life; frankly, the hero worship of anyone on the thin side of the fence makes me uncomfortable.
That said, this baby helped me to lose a quarter of my body weight this year, by tracking my food and exercise.Tracking what you’re eating can also make you way more mindful of what you’re eating.
The thing that I REALLY love about it is that it shows you how nutritious your diet is, together with giving you a place to record your workouts.
I am a lazy beast, and there is absolutely no way I would ever exercise if I didn’t get the happy buzz of entering it into MyFitnessPal afterwards.
It also lets you add friends to cheer you on, and who you can cheer on in turn. Seeing that my posse of pals have managed the amazing feat of hitting the gym can often be the tipping point for hauling my ass off the couch.
Spendee: For my fellow spendaholics
I am 27 and I have no savings. Zilch. Nada. There, I’ve said it.
Spendee is helping me slowly get my bank account out of the red and into the green. It lets you track your income and spending.It’s really easy to use and it can create pretty graphs to show you what sinkhole your money is falling into.
You can also add friends who want to save as well. Full disclosure: I’m too scared to add anyone—I’m scared that people will realize I spend all of my income on coffee.
But if you’re serious about saving, the evidence suggests you’re probably going to get a bigger nest egg if you take the plunge and do it with fellow money-challenged mates.
Focus Time: For my procrastinating pals
…or for people prone to getting distracted while they were trying to do something.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, writing about Focus Time.
This app is just a jazzed up timer (which your phone also has for free, unless it was made in the 90s), but somehow having it all pretty and fancy on my phone makes it seem like it has mystical productivity super powers.
Focus Time uses the Pomodoro technique, where you work for 25 minutes and then you get a five-minute break—which evidence suggests is good for getting people out of the land of procrastination and into the land of getting shit done.
It also keeps a record of how many Pomodoros you’ve done that day, so you can have mini competitions with yourself. Honestly, it’s amazing.
This app makes me pause and take a second to think about all the things I’ve encountered during the day that I’m grateful for.
It’s a technique that’s often used in research and clinical settings to help people to see things more positively—and that shit works.
Instead of going around with my “bah humbug” glasses on, this app makes me spend my days scanning for things that I’m grateful for. It makes me notice little things that I might not have picked up on before, and to take a second to think “Wow. Haloumi. I am so lucky to be able to afford something so mother-trucking delicious”.
It also makes me realise that no matter how shit things might feel sometimes, I have a lot of things to be hella grateful for.
Way of life: For creating nice habits, and kicking the naughty ones
A simple app for sorting out your habits.
You pick the habits you want to create (in my case, meditating every day) and the ones you want to kick (like sneaking to the fridge and eating all the things at night, my vice of choice).
Then each day you say whether or not you achieved the goal.
It’s kind of like a sticker chart for adults, and I love it.
Thought Diary Pro: A pocket therapist for the worrier
This is my favouritist app for managing my cray on the run. It’s a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) app, which is supertastic for worriers like me.
If you think that running a few minutes late is going to bring on the apocalypse, this app helps by assisting you in:
- Pinpointing the unhelpful thoughts you’re torturing yourself with (I might be late for the meeting, and if I am the WORLD WILL END)
- Identifying the errors in the way you’re thinking (in my case, catastrophizing the shit out of everything), and then;
- Figuring out more helpful ways to think about things (the world will probably not end because I’m two minutes late for a meeting. I seeeee…).
And sometimes just seeing your cray thoughts written down can help you to get a bit of distance from them and see them for what they are—madness, that you don’t need to listen to.
Cal and Any. DO: Your pocket Personal Assistant
I’ve been on the search for the perfect calendar and To Do apps for ages, and I think I’ve finally found them.
Cal (the calendar app) can link up to your existing calendar apps (e.g. Gmail, Exchange) and then your To Do list from Any.DO miraculously appears in your calendar.
There’s also a feature that lets you set what time you need to do all your things during the day. It rules.
Also, it’s very pretty, which always gets a gold star from me.
Evernote: For recording those epiphany moments while you’re out and about
I’m working on about ten million things at once at the moment, and Evernote is the only thing keeping me sane.
It lets you record all your lists in one place, from your shopping list, to epiphanies about your life, to ideas for projects at work.
I jot down all my super amazing ideas for while I’m out and about.
Then I can keep doing whatever it is I was up to and come back to my suddenly-not-so-amazing ideas later.
ACTcompanion: For feeling all the feels, but living the life you want to
This app helps you to accept how you’re feeling, and commit to living a valued life no matter what your feels are telling you to do.
We miss out on life if we’re so scared of feeling shit that we avoid doing the things that we value in life.
This app is like a “starter pack” for acceptance and commitment (ACT) therapy; it teaches the main concepts, and it walks you through them for yourself.
Sometimes I’ll open this app up when I need a little motivational pep talk to do something that I’m scared of but value.
Reflecting on things like who my role models are and what people might say at my eulogy can often help me to muster up the courage to crawl out from underneath my bed and get out into the big wide world.
This app lets you make your own vision boards for the things you aspire to in life.
I set my vision boards as the background on my phone and use them as a way to motivate me and to remind me of why I’m putting myself through the horror of leaving the house.
Plus, they’re pretty.
I find that I get too distracted listening to the dulcet tones of the person talking when I do guided meditations, so I go it alone these days*.
This app does one thing, and does it well. It sets bells that go off at set times during your meditation practice.
You can also set up daily reminders, and it keeps a record of all your meditating.
* If you’re new to meditation, see UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Centre for ah-maze-ing guided meditations that you can download for free.
DBT Diary: For Darlings with overwhelming emotions
Swept away by your emotions? This app might be up your alley.
DBT Diary (dialectical behavior therapy) picks and chooses concepts from other fields, including mindfulness, acceptance and distress tolerance.
I really like the coach function—when you find yourself in a pickle, it can talk you through the skill you want to practice, like just observing your thoughts and not getting swept up in them.
This would be an abbo fabbo app to use if you want to check DBT out, or you’re already in therapy. DBT is good for people who struggle with self-harm, and for people with borderline personality disorder.
Do you Darlings have anything you’d like to add? What apps improve your quality of life? Tweet us and tell us @litdarling.
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- Exercise: The Miracle Drug No One Is Taking - December 5, 2014