3 Simple Opportunities for Major Life Improvements in 2016
Don’t just resolve to act — make 2016 your year of good health by focusing on three important areas of well-being: the body, the mind and everyday productivity.
These apps will help you make the 2016 your best year by equipping you with resources to evaluate your current health as well as the tools to implement your desired improvements.
The positive effects of self-monitoring have been backed up by research, particularly in the field of weight loss. According to a recent review of studies regarding self-monitoring in weight loss,
“In order to change behaviors, individuals need to pay adequate attention to their own actions, as well as the conditions under which they occur and their immediate and long-term effects.”
This concept of self-monitoring can be applied to other day-to-day aspects of life, too. Read on to discover the best apps to help you change unhealthy behaviors in 2016.
Approximately 44 million adults receive an annual physical. While a yearly visit to your primary care physician is an important part of maintaining good health, there is a lot you can do on your own between physicals to track and improve your physical well-being.
Here are the best apps for keeping track of your bodily health:
Withings Health Mate (iOS and Android)
The Health Mate app from Withings syncs your health data from its “smart” devices including activity trackers , scales, pulse monitors and blood pressure monitors. It also uses sensors in your smartphone to track your heart rate and daily step count. You can engage your friends in a “step challenge” to increase your motivation. Health Mate provides overviews of your weekly data and progress to further motivate you to stay on track.
The app is free to download, but it contains in-app purchases. If you want to use it with one of the Withings devices, you’ll have to buy each product separately. Basic Withings health trackers can be purchased for about $100.
Download: Withings Health Mate (iOS | Android)
Garmin Connect (iOS and Android)
Like the Health Mate app, Connect helps you track data from Garmin fitness tracking devices. You can set goals, such as a daily number of steps, and the app will display your results as a percentage of your goal. There is also a social feature that allows you to share results with others and offer encouragement along the way. Accountability is always helpful with maintaining motivation and progress.
Garmin Connect is free to download. The cost of associated devices starts at $69.00 for a basic fitness tracker.
Download: Garmin Connect (iOS | Android)
This app takes a different approach to healthy habit-building by prompting you to start with a goal such as losing weight or eating better. From there you can track daily habits such as food consumption and physical activity, and then get advice on how to improve in these areas. Lifesum helps you to stay motivated with progress updates and the ability to share your achievements with others.
Lifesum is free to download, but to access all features, you’ll need to purchase a gold membership, which ranges from $4.99 for a single gold feature to $35.99 for a 12-month membership.
Download: Lifesum (iOS | Android)
7 Minute Workout (iOS and Android)
Tracking your health data is a great foundation, but you also need to engage in physical activity in order to meet your goals. The 7 Minute Workout app will help you fit exercise into your daily routine with a short and manageable set of exercises. All you need is a wall, a chair and a little bit of room to move.
Download: 7 Minute Workout (iOS | Android)
Does anyone make it through the holiday madness without increased levels of anxiety and depression?
If you manage to make it through December unscathed, the dark, cold days of January and the let-down after the holidays usually send everyone’s mood plummeting . That’s why tending to your mental health is important all year round, but especially in the new year/post-holiday haze.
These apps will help you identify and deal with all that ails your mind and spirit:
eCBT Calm (iOS $0.99)
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a popular approach to counseling. Basically, CBT helps you identify negative thought patterns and gives you tools to reframe your thoughts into something more positive and helpful.
The eCBT app features a stress level assessment, relaxation skill tutorials and links to additional resources for coping with stress and anxiety. No app can replace a licensed therapist, but eCBT can be a helpful resource either on its own or in addition to regular counseling.
Download: eCBT Calm (iOS [No Longer Available])
What’s My M3? (iOS and Android [No Longer Available])
This app’s focus is to quickly screen users for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In just three minutes, you can find out how likely you are to suffer from one of these illnesses in a personalized report.
In a society in which mental illness is still treated as a shameful disability, this app makes it easy for anyone to confidentially screen themselves at home. Try it today, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help if What’s My M3? recommends it.
Download: What’s My M3? (iOS [No Longer Available] | Android [No Longer Available])
Optimism (iOS [No Longer Available])
Optimism is a self-monitoring app for mental health. By tracking your mood each day, the app helps you collect data and identify patterns in your mental well-being. It can be helpful even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness.
For people already managing depression, anxiety disorders and other conditions, this app can alert you to triggers and warning signs that your condition may be worsening. You can also use Optimism in conjunction with professional counseling to record your history in a fast and easy-to-use format.
Download: Optimism (iOS)
At the end of the day, we can all benefit from a few deep breaths. Whatever your current mental health status is, BellyBio can help you relax at any point during your day. By placing your phone on your abdomen, this app plays music in sync with your breathing rhythm and tracks your stress level according to your breath patterns. As you breathe and enjoy the music, you’ll feel yourself relaxing without effort.
BellyBio is free to download, but additional music options can be purchased in the app for $0.99 each.
Download: BellyBio (iOS)
Health of Daily Routines and Habits
Taking care of your physical and mental health will make it easier to improve your productivity and build better work habits in 2016. However, don’t forget to attend to the health of the devices that help you work. This is a great time to repair a cracked phone screen or get your computer ready for the New Year.
These apps and resources will help you evaluate and improve your ability to manage time and complete tasks and projects each day:
Customize your criteria for success each day with Evaluate.Day. This app allows you to evaluate each day based on your own standards such as exercise, productivity or mood. Using this information, you can plan work projects
for the most suitable days. You can also set goals within the app and rate your progress as you work to complete them.
Evaluate.Day will help you stay on track with deadlines and plans, and it also serves as a kind of micro diary. You can add colors, photos and memories to your evaluation of the day.
Evaluate.Day is free to download, but in-app purchases may be necessary to access the full range of features.
Download: Evaluate.Day (iOS [No Longer Available])
Toggl (iOS and Android [No Longer Available])
In order to effectively evaluate your productivity, you need to know where your time goes. Toggl is perfect for doing that. You can use it as individually or as part of a work team. Create tasks and tags and differentiate your time as billable or non-billable.
This is a great way to figure out how much time you actually spend working in a day — versus surfing the Internet or engaging in leisure activities such as working out or seeing friends.
You can access all of the helpful basic features with a free membership. If you want to use the app with your team or company, you can purchase a Pro membership for $5 per user/month or a Business membership for $49 per user/month.
Download: Toggl (iOS | Android) [No Longer Available]
David Allen’s popular approach to productivity has been adapted by many successful people. Even if you’re already a fan, the new year is a great time to take stock of what’s working and to refresh your routine with new ideas.
Check out the updated book, $9.95, with new insights into technology. You might also find inspiration in free resources like the blog and podcast. Even if you don’t adopt the entire method, you’re bound to pick up a helpful technique or two, such as the weekly review to add to your routine.
Happier, Fitter and More Productive in 2016
Self-monitoring may sometimes seem like a chore, but it can have a powerful impact on your life — from improving your health and alerting you to problems before they get serious, to helping you achieve your professional and personal goals.
Don’t believe us? Listen to the startup Grammarly, whose team found that time tracking not only made them more productive, but it also incentivized focus on a single task instead of jumping between screens and stimuli.
The New Year is the perfect time to put these tools to work in your life. Give it a try, and get ready for 2016 to be your most productive year yet.
How can you improve your habits and health in 2016? Tell us below!
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