Wednesday, July 16, 2014

These Apps Are Making Me A Better Person

It has come to my attention (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) that I am a pretty tightly-wound, high-stress person. It has also come to my attention that more people die from stress-related health problems than all types of cancer (according to a seminar I went to last week). I have been thinking about some pieces of advice I've received lately — things like "take one day at a time" and "let yourself feel whatever you're feeling" — and decided that it's time I actually did something to make myself feel better, instead of just allowing myself to be miserable because that's "how I feel" at that moment. That I need to actually DO things to keep my sanity, and to make my goals happen, and to not die of a stroke at age 34 or whatever.

These are a few of the apps I've been using lately that have been helping me feel like a Calm, Upstanding, Personal-Growth-Focused Productive Member Of Society instead of a Screaming Banshee That Can't Get Her Shit Together. (Bonus: Some of these apps are also helping me toward some of the goals on my Life List. Win win win.)

Headspace (iPhone, Android, Amazon)

Headspace is a meditation app. It's endorsed by Emma Watson, and that was enough to get me to download it. :) But seriously, it was created by a meditation expert named Andy, and he has the most soothing voice. With the free app, you get 10 days worth of 10-minute audio tracks where Andy walks you through meditation exercises, like breathing deeply, focusing on the body and allowing your thoughts to pass you by without getting fixated on them. (After you finish the 10 sessions, you can pay for a subscription to keep getting new sessions. Or I guess you could just repeat those 10 over and over.)

The app also has cute little animated videos that teach you things about meditation and how your mind works. The graphics are seriously so cute, and somehow match the peaceful design of the whole thing.

I'm on day six of the free tracks (I repeated day four because I accidentally fell asleep during it the first time!), and I am thinking about getting a monthly subscription when I finish, because I am really enjoying it. I feel so calm and relaxed after every session.

Duolingo (iPhone, Android)

I don't remember where I first heard about Duolingo, but I am glad I did! It's a free language-skills app where you practice building up your vocabulary in other languages. (Currently offering Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian and French.) It offers these little mini "games" where you practice saying things out loud, or translating back and forth from English into your chosen language or vice versa. Plus, you get little bonuses when you complete "levels," and there are cute owl graphics.

I'm currently using Duolingo to brush up on my Spanish. I've found it relatively easy so far, but I did take Spanish a little bit in high school and college, so I already had the foundation of how sentences are structured and how verbs are conjugated in espaƱol. It is for sure getting more complicated as I continue though; the sentences are getting longer and incorporating more and more vocab.

My favorite part is that it lets you compete against other random players, whoever is on the app at the same time and of approximately the same skill level as you. Like timed practice. But you can always just practice alone if you don't want to play with others.

When I finish the Spanish program and am fluent as a native (haaa), I intend to start working on German so I can speak Deutsch with my mother-in-law and her German relatives, should I ever have the opportunity to visit Germany. I've never taken German before, so I expect that one to be more difficult.

Fig (iPhone, Android)

I just downloaded Fig the other day, but so far I really like the concept. You create a "to-do" list of things that can help you relax, eat better, sleep better and do a whole lot of other stuff better, and then you do them. But it's not like a list where you feel bad if you don't do the things on it (I have a different app for that). Instead, you get gold stars if you DO do the things on your list! Because you're only doing them to feel good anyway!

There are six major categories you can pull to-dos from, like Eat, Refresh and Connect, or you can look through lists of overall goals, such as Weight Loss, Happiness, Stress Reduction and Energy Level, and choose the to-dos you want based on what your goals are.

Also, if you think there's a specific goal you'd like, but it's not on the list, you can always add it yourself. And you can set the frequency too. Personally, it's only been a few days and I think I've bitten off more than I can chew with that eight-glasses-of-water thing. I love water, but that's a lot of freaking water.

Fig costs $1.99 through Apple's app store.

Two Dots (iPhone)

OK, we can't all be making ourselves better people all the time. Sometimes we need games. Like when our brains are too tired to function.

Two Dots is my new Candy Crush. It does that thing where you have to wait to replenish your lives, but unlike Candy Crush, I can actually put this one down once in awhile.

Ahem, you may be sensing a theme, but CUTE GRAPHICS. It has different goals for each level, but it doesn't require a whole lot of thought unless you're stuck on Level 35 like me. It's also free.

What apps are you obsessed with lately? Any you love that I should check out?

P.S. No one paid me for any of these reviews. I bought and/or downloaded all these apps on my own. And all photos are screenshots from my phone.


  1. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvJuly 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Thanks for the recommendations....I'm going to try the meditations one and love the to do list, but hate paying for apps.

  2. These are great apps! I don't use any to relax, but I sometimes watch ASMR videos from YouTube on my phone when I'm feeling stressed. A counselor once told me it's okay to fall asleep while you are meditating/relaxing, because that's what your body needs at the time. I am super introverted, so if I feel overextended and like my head is going to explode, I try to relax in a quiet room.

  3. I've heard good things about SuperBetter, which is kind of similar to the list, I think, except that it's more like a game you can play online for free. The phone app is like $4 though, and I didn't want to spend that much. I hope you like Headspace!

  4. I've heard good things about SuperBetter, which is kind of similar to the list, I think, except that it's more like a game you can play online for free. The phone app is like $4 though, and I didn't want to spend that much. I hope you like Headspace!

  5. Interesting about falling asleep! This is the first meditation thing I've tried where it actually allows you a short time to let your mind do what it wants. It's a refreshing change from constantly forcing your mind to just.stop.thinking!

  6. I'm sure it will come back to you. I am kind of surprised how much I remembered when prompted. Still not great, but at least it's a start!

  7. I love app recommendations- great post! I'll be sure to look for the ones you recommended, and would love a follow up post as you find more that you like :)

  8. fig and headspace both look like fun. it's also probably a good idea to have a mindfulness app, since most of my time lost in app land gets lost on social media...