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Our 4 favourite wellness apps

An idea has been regaining traction of late: the design of technology with humans in mind. This, of course, has been the promise of technological developments from the wheel to the plough to the solar panel — to support, not suppress, humanity. And yet not all inventions help the human race function more optimally. Think guns. Think automated supermarket checkouts. Think Candy Crush.

The locus of this particular paradigm shift has been Silicon Valley, where a man named Tristan Harris has been trying to convince movers and shakers in the tech world to apply moral integrity to software design. The founder of advocacy group Time Well Spent, Harris is set on stopping the industry from encouraging our addiction to digital devices. Watch his TED Talk — it’s a good one.

Until this tech revolution takes hold, if you want to truly connect with others, yourself and each moment, you can reclaim control of your life by switching off the smartphone — at least for a short time. Or choose to use the wonders of this technology to dive deeply into your experience of life instead of distracting yourself in the muddy shallows of endless social media feeds and notification pings.

How to do this? A good starting point is to choose your apps wisely. With this in mind, we’ve reviewed four we love.

Good On You

iOS & Android, free

If you like pretty things, it’s nice to be able to easily suss out which clothing and accessory brands follow ethical practices for people and the planet, and this is the app for that. Launched in Australia in 2015 and now available in New Zealand, Canada and the US, Good On You rates more than 1000 fashion brands based on publicly available information including independent certifications and rankings, and credible information published by brands, the media and NGOs. The interface is chic and easy to use: you simply search by brand or category or browse by category. Importantly, you can also set your ethical preferences — do you value the environment, labour rights, animal protection or all three? — and your style (we’re classic, all the way).

CluckAR app

iOS & Android, free

This free app developed by consumer rights protection body CHOICE as an extension of its Give A Cluck campaign has the fancy tagline of “augmented reality free range egg detector”. But it’s pretty straightforward. You open the app, point your phone camera at the top of an egg carton and the app tells you whether those googs are free-range or not. If the chooks are legitimately able to roam, you’ll learn just how good the brand’s free-range claims are. Brands with stocking densities fewer than or up to 1500 hens per hectare — the figure advocated in CSIRO’s egg Model Code of Practice — pass the test. Launched in 2016 after consumer affairs ministers approved a standard allowing producers to cram 10,000 hens on a hectare and still advertise eggs as “free range”, it’s a fantastic tool, and animations keep it playful, too.

MoodMission

iOS & Android, free

When a crowdfunding campaign gets an app off the ground, you know there’s a real need for it. Fair enough, given anxiety and depression rates are on the rise and the aim of the team behind MoodMission is to empower people to change the way they feel. Developed by Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) student David Bakker as part of his thesis and launched in late 2016, this app provides evidence-based strategies to improve your mood. On downloading it, you complete questionnaires, which feed into Bakker’s research. Then you simply plug in how you’re feeling to receive a tailored list of five quick, effective things you can do to help and why each works. It’s easy to use, the language is simple, the research is transparent and, because it can be at your fingertips in anxiety-inducing or distressing situations, it helps you develop a toolkit for coping better with these scenarios in the future.

1 Giant Mind

iOS & Android, free

There are loads of meditation apps out there and, while you may be familiar with the hugely popular Headspace and Insight Timer (both free, both fantastic), 1 Giant Mind has been keeping us company of late. An introduction to meditation for those who like a little structure, this app teaches you to meditate in 12 steps that build upon each other and take 15 minutes each. Then you can take a 30-day challenge — if that’s your thing — to help entrench a daily meditation habit and choose from 10-, 15- or 20-minute sessions accompanied by guidance, music or silence. You can also watch video tutorials or read FAQs to learn about meditation and its benefits, record your experiences in a journal and set a timer to alert you when it’s time to meditate next (just quietly, that may be our favourite feature!).

Danielle Kirk

Danielle Kirk

Danielle Kirk loves yoga and cooking and occasionally climbs trees. She's also the editor of WellBeing.

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