What was the last thing you looked at on your phone? Chances are it involved an app, as we spend an average of 4.2 hours engaging with them each day. However, with excessive phone use linked to concerns such as poor sleep quality, increased anxiety and depression, higher stress levels, and greater alcohol consumption, this habit significantly impacts our health.
But it’s not all bad news. Among the 3.5 million apps available to us are those designed to help our mental and physical wellbeing – allowing you to click with a little less guilt. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin; so we’ve tried and tested an array to bring you eight of our favorites for a hearty dose of TLC.
This app is the BFF your mind has been waiting for. It offers meditation sessions aplenty in engaging and accessible formats covering all scenarios: from anxiety, grief, anger, and the Sunday Scaries to sports, creativity, vacation, and work. I love that there are also sessions designed for kids, pregnancy, and dealing with cancer.
The dedicated sleep section has been a highlight, helping stop my relentless brain cogs whirring – and I definitely have a better nights’ rest when I practice before bed. An unexpected bonus? The app even includes workout and stretching videos – because body and brain go hand-in-hand.
$12.99 per month/$69.99 per year
Full disclosure: I’m a bit obsessed with this app. While we often focus on looking after our brain now, it’s equally essential to safeguard it against future cognitive decline. ‘Brain training’ has come into force over recent years, and this app offers activities to help maintain and boost memory, focus, flexibility, and problem-solving abilities. The games are short (so easy to complete if you only have a few minutes), comprise simple but engaging graphics, and, most importantly, are genuinely fun to play.
Free to access a few games, or $11.95 per month/$60.00 per year for the full catalog
Over the years, I’ve had numerous questions about my cycle and goings-on ‘down there’, but Dr. Google often confuses things further. Flo is a giant breath of fresh air. Content has been created with assistance from health experts, and I love how the app is incredibly in-depth yet easy to navigate. Helpful daily insights bring the most relevant info straight to you, while logging periods, emotions, and physical symptoms allows you to track changes. Informative articles cover everything from orgasms to vaginal dryness, there’s exhaustive info for those trying to conceive or already pregnant, and you can even join anonymous forum chats to discuss concerns with other users.
Free, with premium access for $9.99 per month/$29.99 per year
If COVID or cash flow prevents you from attending the gym, Neou offers a great at-home alternative. Over 100 different instructors lead classes at their NYC space which are live-streamed and recorded so you can join at any time, and workouts and programs are suggested according to your preferences. Some videos comprise participants, which helps ramp up the energy, while challenges and goals provide accountability and competition. Plus, they’ve got all genres covered – including lots of low-impact and even a Kettlebell/Meditation fusion – meaning I can try workouts I’d be too embarrassed to do uncoordinated in public.
$4.99 per month/$34.99 per year
A nature-focused app that lets you photograph, recognize, and record different bugs and plants, Seek may not be what you’d typically turn to for self-care. However, having an excuse to get outdoors could be exactly what your body needs: Aside from the exercise, being in nature can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, and boost levels of self-esteem and resilience. A list of nearby elements to spy, along with achievement badges, encourages you to spend more time outside (and certainly worked on me); and, although it’s not the glitziest-looking design, it’s simple to use and understand.
One in six Americans sought therapy in the past 18 months, but talk doesn’t come cheap. However, Wysa is an adorable penguin AI chatbot to talk through daily stresses and anxieties with. It’s not a substitute for professional help but offers an anonymous and private space to vent and aims to provide users with cognitive-behavioral therapy-based tools to build emotional resilience. I appreciated having quick chats as an opportunity to pause and consider how I was doing, while I found the sets of exercises to help beat stress and boost productivity helpful, too.
Free, or $29.99 per month for text-based chat sessions with a qualified Wysa therapist
A big part of self-care revolves around what we eat, and meal planning can assist us in making more nutritious choices. This app lets users search for recipes and save ones they find online — and having everything in one place certainly made planning my dishes for the week ahead a lot easier. The overall design is clean and recipes are clearly set out, and being able to adjust the serving size was very helpful. I also like that dishes are given a ‘health score’ so you can be better informed about all nutritional aspects and not just calories.
We all know what’s required to look after ourselves a bit better, but doing them is often another matter. So this app allows you to set schedules and targets to help create habits that will nourish your mind and body. I liked that, rather than having a standard routine to follow, users can select their own priorities, and having a checklist acted as a gentle but effective nudge for me to get things done. There are also challenges to partake in for an extra push, covering everything from acts of kindness to decluttering.
Free, with Premium access for $39.99 per year