If your weekly screen time report has been on the rise in recent weeks, try not to beat yourself up about it. In addition to scrolling for news updates and staying connected with friends and family during the pandemic, many of us are leveraging our screens to support mindfulness, physical activity and other self-care practices.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, 32% of Canadian adults were using one or more mobile apps to monitor aspects of their health, and approximately one in four of us owned at least one smart device for health and wellbeing, according to a Canada Health Infoway study. Those numbers are sure to have skyrocketed in recent weeks, but with more than 320,000 health and fitness apps available in major app stores, finding a good variety of great ones that keep you motivated can be tricky.
Whether your smartphone is loaded with health apps or you haven’t tried one yet, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites to help you refresh — or kickstart — your at-home self-care routine.
Keto. Intermittent fasting. Paleo. Vegan. Regardless of your nutrition philosophy, many people find using apps for food information and tracking extremely valuable. Consider trying:
• My Fitness Pal: Comprehensive and wildly popular, this app offers a food database, barcode scanner, recipe importer and take-out logger.
• Nutrition Facts: Good nutrition is even more important during times of stress (a global pandemic counts). Take a close look at your intake with the help of this app, which details nutritional properties of about 8,700 different food items.
Fitness and Exercise
Are you bored of your at-home workout circuit or your tried-and true running route? These apps may be for you:
• NeoU: The Netflix of fitness, this app allows you to browse avariety of workouts and stream videos on-demand.
• Strava: Join a community of runners and cyclists and share routes, compete in challenges, track friends’ progress and more.
Even during “normal” times, approximately 30% of Canadians struggle with getting to or staying asleep, according to the University of British Columbia’s Sleep Disorders Program, and it has been well-documented that more of us are suffering from sleep challenges thanks to the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak. You may want to try out one of these for support in getting more much-needed rest:
• Sleep Cycle: This simple, well-loved app helps track sleep patterns and offers recommendations for optimizing sleep.
• Slumber: A good resource for pre-sleep meditations, bedtime stories and background noise.
Quieting the mind is perhaps more important for society as a whole — yet harder to achieve — now than ever. Both of the apps below were recommended on Statista’s list of leading iPhone health and fitness apps in Canada 2019.
• Headspace: Downloaded 19,321 times in 2019, this app provides guided meditations that are ideal for mindfulness newbies.
• Calm: Even more popular than Headspace, Calm promotes stress management through daily meditation offerings, a sleep timer and master classes taught by inspiring authors and mindfulness gurus.
Sometimes disconnecting from technology for a period of time is what’s best for our mental, emotional and physical well-being. If this rings true for you, consider trying:
• Moment: Track your most commonly-used apps and access coaching to help you reduce total screen time.
Alternatively, try to incorporate these four strategies into your daily device use:
- Turn off notifications: minimize your distractions and avoid the lure of alerts.
- Plan tech-free time in your day: work in some new technology free rituals – take 15 minutes in your morning routine to do something you love before looking at your phone.
- Use your phone’s gray scale feature: many apps aren’t as exciting or stimulating in black and white. Try doing it for an hour a day and see how it affects your desire for your device.
- Commit to one screen at a time: who hasn’t scrolled Instagram while on hour three of a Game of Thrones binge? Try to focus on one screen at a time to minimize your brain’s acclimatization to distraction.
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This article was adapted from its original publishing, which was produced by TELUS Wise.