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How Technology Can Help Your Health

Our mental and physical health is directly linked (no surprise there). For every article that shouts from the rooftops about all the ways technology makes our lives better as a global community, it is closely followed by another that is muttering under its breath: “Careful there; don’t over do it!”

You can totally overindulge in technology and have it affect you negatively. Don’t listen to Mr. Grumbles in the corner; that dude’s a total wet blanket. Let’s focus on the flip side–on the ways that technology can help contribute to our well-being(s). It helps us build communities and connect with others; it makes certain actions more efficient and, if used mindfully, can help us add to our existing set of cognitive skills.

Technology allows us to extend the niche of self-help and self-care and to make information and education much more readily available. The dynamics of an app often allow for interaction so it can be more engaging and supportive to assist someone with a change without being too intrusive.

Where’s a good starting point to dive into technology and my health?

F.lux – Too much screen time might be affecting your sleep patterns! Night time exposure to blue light keeps people up later than normal and f.lux adjusts colors in a way that reduces the power of those stimulating effects at night.

Fitbit – While not free, the Fitbit has varying capabilities depending on what you’re seeking out. Interested in tracking your sleep to optimize your sleeping habits? Your steps to see how your activity rate shifts? Your heart rate? The first step is adjusting a current pattern is becoming more knowledgable about your current habits.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” ~Elon Musk

Let’s not forget other more specialized tracking methods!

For those who have menstrual cycles, tracking and information-offering apps could be a helpful addition to learning more about how hormones are affecting your body every month (i.e. Clue &/or Hormone Horoscope).

What about something like MigraineBuddy? Designed by neurologists and data scientists, it can help quickly guide you through identifying and recording triggers and symptoms during an episode as well as providing a summary report of past incidents.

Anxiety-reducing apps like Personal Zen focus on training our attention to the positive are appealing to a larger audience because of how they translate effective strategies into a game format. Happify uses a similar strategy to disrupt patterns of negative thinking by framing existing habits in a more positive manner. Apps like these are also wonderful because they overcome a few treatment barriers by being brief and inexpensive.

Additional calming apps like Pause, Breathe2Relax, or Headspace assist in guiding you to channel the principles of a mindfulness and meditative practice. This allows you to regain focus by triggering the ‘rest and digest’ response to combat any potential ‘fight or flight’ you might be experiencing.

SAM and Mindshift are also good in regards to combining self-evaluation and tracking to come up with small steps for future change.

None of these are a substitute should you need more nuanced, immediate, or direct feedback from a trained professional in regards to your situation. They are, however, a great supplement if you want to explore entry-level options that use the ideas of mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, or gamification to help you improve your day to day life.

Are there any uses of technology not mentioned above that help contribute to your heath in a positive way? Feel free to share below; I love learning more about what’s out there!

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