Monday, August 27, 2018

Top Wellness Apps for...Anyone

I was recently asked to write up a run-down of some of the best wellness-related apps for ER docs. But really, this list applies to EVERYONE, and I thought it would be worth sharing here. While unplugging may often be the best medicine, tech tools definitely have a place in regular daily life, and can also provide a source of accountability and motivation. Or, you know, just make work and sleep more pleasant.


Cost: Basic meditations are free; full app for $12.99/month or $4.99/month yearly (keep an eye out
for promotional offers that will often get it down to $40/year.)

Time: 1 – 30 minutes

What it does: When you open the app, you’re greeted by a soothing sound that you can select – fire crackling, rain falling, crickets, etc. Inside you’ll find an extensive library of programs to target different goals (7 days of Calm, 7 days of Gratitude, Calming Anxiety, Breaking Habits, Mindfulness at Work – and much more), as well as a Daily Calm exercise that pops up on the welcome screen when you open the app (this is especially nice as it takes the decision-making burden off of you if you’re unsure what to select). Also on the home screen: featured Sleep Stories (there’s also a full library of Sleep Stories within the app). These are exactly what they sound like – a celebrity reading a story intended to lull you to sleep. The free meditations are the basic ones – Body Scan, Breath-focused, Loving Kindness, Forgiveness - and you can choose versions as short as 1 minute and as long as 30 minutes of each of these.


Cost: Free 10 day trial, $7.99/month yearly or $12.99/month monthly

Time: 10, 15, or 20 minutes

What it does: Headspace starts you off with a 10 day series that serves as an “introduction to mindfulness.” From there, with the full app, you are encouraged to complete the “Basics” pack of meditations, but can also choose from any of the packs available for further practice – packs target big things like Anxiety, Focus, Sleep, Acceptance. There are also “singles” – one-offs for specific situations, such as “Burned Out”, “End of Day”, “Interviews”, “Fear of Flying”, and even “Housework.”


Cost: 20 different free meditations available; $5.83/month yearly or $9.99/month monthly

Time: 11 minutes or less

What it does: Stop, Breathe & Think is unique in that it guides you through first checking in with your emotions – and then recommends exercises based on what you need now. You can also choose your length of time & voice, set a meditation timer or listen to themed exercises (Be Kind, Breathe, etc.) A progress page keeps track of your consecutive days of meditation & gives you different reward badges for motivation. For the skeptics, it will also walk you through the neuroscience of mindfulness & stress physiology.


Cost: Free

What it does: Struggle with sleep and circadian rhythms? Stop what you’re doing and put this on your
desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone. F.lux is a nifty little program – tell it what time zone you’re in, and it adjusts the color of your screens to the time of day. Warm at night, bright daylight in the morning. Blue light (emitted by screens, among other things) keeps your pineal gland from producing melatonin – fine for that morning shift, not so fine when you’re about to go home at midnight to get some sleep. It runs automatically in the background, but you can also self-adjust it or temporarily turn it off (say, if you’re on night shift, or doing color-sensitive work on your laptop).


Cost: Free

What it does: This one is a hidden gem. Download the app or simply go to noisli.com. Noisli lets you custom-mix different sounds to help you focus or de-stress – you can simply click a button for “productivity” or “relaxation”, and adjust the levels of rain, thunderstorms, wind, ocean, fire, coffee shop, railroad, and white noise to your heart’s content.  

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