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Are you wondering what apps are the easiest and most effective to use to improve your health and wellbeing?

Confused by what is on offer?

We at the Wellbeing Team have been exploring all the best health and wellbeing apps your can download to use at home and have listed some of the best below (grouped in easy to read topics).

Before I start let us begin with the app that is most relevant to us as Cornwall Council employees at present:

SilverCloud - SilverCloud is offering free mental health support for those working in the NHS or Council as well as their families. Using proven methods such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and positive psychology, SilverCloud offers online programmes to help ease levels of stress and help you maintain a healthy mind during this challenging time. Accessing the online programmes provides instant access to self-help support to ease your levels of stress, sleep better or to build your resilience. These programmes provide a range of self-help content, tools, videos and activities to help you feel better. They can be accessed any time and all information you enter is anonymous, confidential and secure.

Login details: Council (including social workers and community nursing) – use access code: Cornwall2020

Mental health

Nowadays there are many apps that claim to assist your mental wellbeing, but which ones are really suitable and don’t cause you more stress? 

  • SuperBetter – is an app that offers resilience training. It is set out in a fun way, like a game, but is based on your own achievable goals, offers advice to tackle challenges and is completely free (no annoying in app purchases!). Can you level up your resilience?
  • Pixels – This app allows you track your mood in a simple, quick and easy manner. It allows you to see patterns in your mental health and gain insights. A very simplistic form of bullet journaling! A similar app to this is Daylio which is the same concept but allows you to track and add more details (e.g. you may be able to see your mood is better on the day after an exercise class etc.). Some people may enjoy the simplicity of Pixels whilst others may enjoy the more informed Daylio. 
  • Action for Happiness - did you know Action for Happiness had an app as well as their website? This app is great and came highly recommended, so we gave it a whirl. Each month is assigned with a theme e.g. self-care, mindfulness, helping others etc and each day you will get two notifications. One in the morning is a simple task for the day and one in the evening which is an inspirational message.

Physical Activity

  • Couch to 5k –For people who aren’t confident with high intensity exercise these apps really motivate you to get active and build on physical fitness. The couch to 5k builds you from no running fitness whatsoever to being able to run a 5k confidently in nine weeks. If you stick to the easy schedule then you will achieve.
  • Active 10 - Active 10 is designed to get you walking briskly for at least 10 minutes each day. You can amend this target once you are easily achieving the 10 minutes every day but what is really good is that it is working in the background and tells you what you have walked over the day, brisk or otherwise! Insightful on those days when you have let work take priority…
  • JEFIT Workout Tracker – provides a free fitness databased to help you get/stay fit. The app boasts more than 1,300 workout routines with tutorials and descriptions. You can choose workouts for any situation – perhaps you would like to tone, lose weight or be more consistent with your exercise.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being in the present and noticing what is going on with our feelings, emotions and physical wellbeing. Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us to enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves and what makes us tick better.

  • Headspace – If you’ve never meditated before or tried mindfulness Headspace is a great place to start and takes you through guided meditations and mindfulness techniques. The basic library is free but you do have to subscribe for some content.
  • Calm – Calm is another perfect beginning point for meditation; there’s even a seven day beginners programme. It has short, guided meditation sessions which cover the basics of mindfulness. By far the best thing about this app is that one of the mediations is run by Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation for fans) who has a wonderful voice!
  • Aura – Aura offers a more personalised experience to meditation and mindfulness. Aura is a little bit like Spotify where you can create mindfulness meditation playlists to carry out your own personalised daily mediations! 

Sleep

Sleep is critical for ensuring positive physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some apps that come highly rated:

  • Sleep Cycle – This app is great for helping you get back into a regular sleep pattern. It helps you track your sleep and provides you with a detailed analysis also. It includes gentle alarm clocks, personalised settings and gentle melodies.
  • Pzizz – Based on the latest sleep research the app creates dreamscape melodies/sounds personalised for you. The app is very good at relaxing you and soothing you into sleep mode. It includes alarms to help wake up in a calming manner. Only drawbacks for this app is that some of the content is on a subscriber basis and you should keep your phone on charge whilst using this app to sleep as you will find it uses a fair bit of your battery.
  • Sleepa – Sleep, relax and meditate with the relaxing sounds of nature, rain or white noise. It can really relax and soothe your body ready for sleep and you can set timers for how long you would like the sounds to play…or even a mix of sounds to create your own personalised, relaxing mix.

Healthy Eating

It is easy to assume that healthy eating apps start and end with calorie trackers but there are many ways in which smartphones can help you to eat well. 

  • My Fitness Pal – keeps you accountable for your diet.  This app it has such a wide database of food items so if you are being careful with what you eat or would just like to know what your favourite treat is calorie wise; My Fitness Pal will probably have it listed! Helps you to keep a food diary, stay motivated and track patterns.
  • Easy Meals – Another one from PHE. The One You campaign have designed this app which gives you thousands of recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and pudding – and better yet they are all healthy!
  • BBC Good Food – Now granted you may be thinking this isn’t just healthy eating…but this app is brilliant. There are over 10,000 recipes on there and you can search by ingredient. So if you get a weekly veg box and you get that odd thing you have no idea what to do with be confused no more! You can search for recipes including your unusual ingredient. Always a first port of call when deciding on meal plans for the week.

Yoga

  • Down Dog – Down Dog is currently free and it is wonderful! We did previously manage to get CC employees a free six month trial but believe this is now expired. You can choose what practice you would like, difficulty level and sequences all with ever changing videos. We cannot rate this app more –we would urge you to download if you are wanting to start yoga.
  •  Daily Yoga – aimed at any level but is especially good for beginners. They advise they can teach you the basics of yoga in two weeks and master them in this time too!
  • 5 Minute Yoga – Does what it says on the tin: fast and easy yoga workouts. Provides clear images and detailed instructions with each sessions focussed on a different yoga pose.

 Something for fun

  • Words with Friends – We in Health, Safety and Wellbeing play a lot. A lot like scrabble, you can have friendly games with people you know and improve your word skills as you have fun!
  • Spotify – Whether you have the paid premium account, or the free account Spotify is fab. Not only does it have your favourite tunes (which you can organise into a specific playlist) but you can access podcasts, radio and see your friend’s favourite listens too! Music is a great de-stressor so why not give it a whirl and open up a free account if you don’t already have one?
  • Pinterest – got some home projects set for yourself whilst you are at home? Lacking in inspiration though? Look no further, it offers you so much inspiration whether your interest is DIY, crafting, cooking, fashion, sports or simply cats! Essentially you can organise your interests…what is better?

 

 



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Tagged under: Mental Health  



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