Social media makes us sadder. Is it time to throw our smartphone in a ziplock bag and stick it in the freezer? Well, not quite. Technology has always walked the fine line between the positive and the negative; the deciding factor is how we engage with and use it. There are developers who’d rather see us happy and healthy, not as a dystopian populous more suited for an episode of Black Mirror. So, with last year well out of the way, we’re going to look at our favourite apps set to brighten up your 2017. ‘Appy New Year!
It’s old news that exercising makes us happier. Just think of all those lovely endorphins rushing through your brain! We feel better with goals we can measure. Doing this involves building solid workout habits and starting small; you don’t want to burn out this early in the year. Check your running, walking or cycling progress with Runkeeper. This nifty little app has built-in goals and sends encouraging messages if it thinks you’re lagging.
How we eat also impacts our health and happiness. That’s not to say that guilty pleasures like pizza and chocolate are totally off limits, but there are a few handy apps that can help you regulate what you eat. MyFitnessPal tracks your calorie intake and creates charts that highlight the main offender. Using the data, you simply adjust your diet to cut those bad boys out.
Sleep and downtime are crucial if we want to stay happy. A recent study shows that sleep-deprived people are more likely to recall unpleasant memories. Sleep Genius could be the answer to your tossing and turning woes. This app, developed from research to help NASA astronauts sleep, allows you to set a healthy bedtime and gradually wakes you up the following morning. There is also a function for power naps. Headspace on the other hand works on our mental health when we’re awake. ‘Treat your head right’ is the Headspace motto, and with its meditation training you’ll do just that.
One of the best ways we can feel better about ourselves is by helping others. Pay It Forward is the app for our charitable souls. It connects those who need help with the people who can give it. You’d almost think it was Christmas again with good will like that.
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, try Charity Miles. This free app will donate money to one of over thirty charities with every mile you cover on foot or by bike. You can clock up that all-important exercise and get happy helping points in the process. Double win!
Making something meaningful can bust bad moods on even the darkest days. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Twitter is the place for microblogging and sharing your thoughts if you want to be creative but don’t know where to start. ‘One sentence stories’ are a brilliant way to get creative juices flowing without pulling a muscle.
Know you want to do something but feel a bit lost? Break your creative block with Unstuck, the app that prompts work by posing questions, sending tips and providing pro-active tools. If you have a great idea but the ambience just isn’t right, Coffitivity is for you. This fun app plays the chatter and clinking of spoons you might hear in a coffee shop, and it’s surprisingly effective. Studies show that low volume, ambient noise actually helps with concentration and encouraging those light bulb moments.
It’s the Little Things…
You’ve heard of ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. When stressed, the smallest hiccup can totally derail our good mood. Thankfully, there are apps available to help us avoid those teeth-grinding incidences. One moment you have your phone in your hand, and the next you have no idea where you left it. Before you fly into an uncontrollable rage, consider downloading Pixie. This clever app comes with ‘Pixie points’: traceable dots you can stick to your prized possessions. The search for your phone or wallet is then turned into an AR experience akin to Pokémon GO! as ‘pixie dust’ appears when you are close to your lost item.
‘If this, then that’ – IFTTT – allows users to design ‘applets’ around their own personal needs. For example, if you’re a football fan, you can tell IFTTT to notify you when your team wins. Sick of coming home to a dark house in winter? Tell IFTTT to turn on your smart lights when the sun starts to set. This app is a customizable work of genius that will bring out your inner Steve Jobs.
Take It Easy by Making It Easy
Sometimes it feels like simply owning a phone is a job in itself. However, with millions of apps available online, you can tailor your smartphone and tablet to work for you. From organising your life to keeping yourself fit, there are apps that can simplify your day, from your home to the office and back again. Having a happier 2017 can be as easy as falling off a data log.
Headerbild: Jumping woman via Shutterstock