Health and appiness

As I write this, I’m listening to waves roll in at the beach, rushing in across the sand before receding: the ocean playing its timeless game with its old friend the beach. No, I’m not skiving off, as the sunny day begs me to do; I’m listening to an app on my smartphone. And, yes, when you start listening to the beach at your desk and birds tweeting on your commute, it’s fair to say the wellness field has well and truly embraced technology.

There are many apps out there. While a lot of them are annoying yet strangely addictive games involving cartoon creatures, a growing number offer users ways to improve their Health and wellbeing, and live more sustainably. An “app” (short for application), by the way, is a self-contained piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose, which the user downloads to their electronic device.

Here are six of the most interesting and useful apps I’ve downloaded in the past few months. If you haven’t got on the app train already, why not give these a try?

Gratitude Journal — the original

iPhone & iPad, AU$0.99

Like it says on the label, this app’s all about recording everything for which you’re grateful. Each day you write a list, which is saved in a calendar so you can reflect on the wonderful experiences and people your life contains. When you save a list a quote appears – a nice touch — and you can customise each list by changing font and attaching a photo. If you’re like me and you forget to write in your diary, don’t despair: there’s an alert function.


iPhone & iPad, AU$4.49

You have to pay a bit more it, but after taking this food additive guide for a spin checking labels in the supermarket, I think it’s worth the investment. You search for the name or number of an ingredient (there’s a disturbingly long list of indecipherable names) and the app tells you whether it’s harmful, should be avoided or is safe to eat. It even has cartoon critters to help you turn it into a “check the ingredients” game for the kids.

Pocket Yoga

iPhone, iPad & Android, AU$2.81

Ideal if want to take yoga outside of the classroom or are starting to do yoga at home, Pocket Yoga beats turning the pages of a book mid-pose. You choose from five styles of practice, such as the power-based “mountain” or a fast-paced vinyasa flow sun salutation, and then select how long you want to exercise and where you’ll be practising. Lay out your mat, put your gadget beside it and a virtual instructor talks you through each pose in a programmed sequence, with the correct posture displayed on the screen.


iPhone, iPad & Android, free

This app lets you take the sounds of nature with you wherever you go, which is pure salve to the soul if you commute to work. I’ve found it to be a wonderful tool for relaxation and meditation. The free version features six looping nature soundtracks so you can listen to songbirds at daybreak, rain hitting water and, my favourite, “infinite shoreline”. You can buy more tracks from AU$0.99 each. The developers apparently recorded each track themselves, getting “battered by storms, eaten by bugs, sunburned, frostbitten” etc, which is cool.

Get Happy – ways to increase your happiness

iPhone & iPad, AU$0.99

Written by Australian clinical psychologist Lisa Patterson-Kane, this app is a nifty bundle of advice for your pocket. When you download it, you plug in when and how often you want to be given advice. It then delivers personalised tips — or “evidence-based strategies” — to help you effectively deal with problematic thoughts and feelings, and to help you remember the important stuff in life. You rate the tips, so it cleverly prioritises the area of life you wish to focus on.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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