My Favourite Apps I Use Daily (That Aren’t Social Media)

To anyone who refuses to update their iPhone on principle: first of all, power to you. Personally I’m a sucker for the promise of new emojis, but kudos for resisting the temptation to check out Apple’s newest, probably arbitrary features.

However, if you are participating in la résistance contre Apple, that means you probably haven’t seen the new Screen Time feature that Apple rolled out. The feature shows you how much time you’re spending on your phone each day, and what that time is being allocated to. It’s super confronting to see how much time you (I) spend on your (my) phone, and especially how much of that time you (again, I) have been spending scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Looking at my daily screen time now, it’s 3:40pm and I’ve spent 3h 38min on my phone of the 5-ish hours that I’ve been awake. Granted, an hour or so of that was just spent on Apple music while I worked out this morning. But 2 whole hours of it has been on social networking sites (mainly Instagram)! I’m almost embarrassed to even put those numbers in this post (please don’t judge me).

So a couple of weeks ago, after dissecting and neurotically obsessing over how much time I was wasting on my phone and all the productive things I could’ve been doing in those hours instead, I made a pact. I vowed that I would make an effort to make the time that I spend on my phone more productive. Instead of opening the same social media app for the 3rd time in 15 minutes, I downloaded some apps on my phone that will (hopefully) benefit me more than just seeing memes and fitspo posts and Barbie doll-esque influencers float across my screen. So here’s a list of my favourites that I use regularly, if not daily.

Remente

I randomly stumbled across this one on the app store, decided to give it a go, and haven’t looked back since. I guess it’s kind of life coach-y, but it’s more so just an app to help you stay on track with/accomplish your goals. It also has features that allow you to evaluate and talk about how you feel about different areas of your life (the categories are Love & Relationships, Health & Fitness, Career & Education, Personal Development, Family, Friends & Social Life, Fun & Recreation, and Finances). You can set goals within these categories, or just general life goals. The app sends you articles and resources based on how you rank each category, as well as various courses like meditation courses and workout courses. It’s really helped me to stay motivated, especially with regards to exercising and staying active, and I love that I can jot stuff down that I’m thinking or feeling without feeling like I’m having to officially ~journal~ everything.

My Fitness Pal

Part of my 2019 resolution to take better care of my body means making sure I’m staying active and eating right. While I’m not trying to become a calorie nazi, I do still want to make sure I’m consuming a good balance of macronutrients everyday and not putting things in my body that aren’t going to help me feel good. My Fitness Pal has made it so easy to track what I’m eating everyday and gives me a really clear view of how many carbs, fats, and proteins I’m getting in everyday. It also shows me how much Vitamin A and C, iron, fibre, calcium, and other goodies I’ve consumed each day. It’s helped me get a much better sense for the portion sizes I should have at every meal and I love that it connects to other health and fitness apps I have like Nike Run and the Apple Health app, as well as showing me healthy recipes and exercise and wellness tips.

Flo

This app also goes hand-in-hand with my resolution to make sure I’m on top of taking care of my body. I’ve tried tons of different period-tracking apps, and have given up on most of them because they’re inaccurate and/or hard to use. Flo is super accurate and allows me to enter tons of various symptoms as well as other things that can affect ~that time of month~ like exercise, medications, diet, and sleep; then the app recommends articles based on the info I’ve entered. It helps me take care of my body better and recognise signs and symptoms.

She Reads Truth

Here’s something I never thought I’d say a year ago: I’m a huge morning person. I love getting up early and working out, making breakfast, and having some time to myself. Something I’ve started doing before I get my day started is reading a devotion every morning. I’ve found that the ones on She Reads Truth are the best and they have tons of different daily plans to choose from. If you’re religious and looking for a devotional, definitely try this one out!

Headspace

Headspace is an awesome way to clear your head at the beginning or the end of your day. They have tons of guided meditations based on what you want to focus on or accomplish and you can choose different areas of your life to focus on, such as work and productivity, falling asleep or waking up, personal growth, life challenges, physical health, education, etc. I never used to really ~believe in~ meditation, but this app has been really beneficial for me getting into a great mindset before my day starts each morning.

 

How Therapy Changed Me and Saved Me

I feel like I need to start by mentioning that this post has been lingering in my drafts for quite a while. I’m not sure “embarrassed” is exactly the right word to describe how I feel about sharing my struggle with mental illnesses, but it’s somewhere in that arena. Despite the recent spike in mental illness-related memes, which have opened up a more casual conversation about mental health, mental illnesses and their treatments still remain heavily stigmatised.

After a close friend disclosed to me recently that she’s been seeing a therapist, I decided that letting this post hang out in my drafts was only perpetuating the stigma surrounding mental illness. I think I can speak for everyone who’s ever struggled with their mental health when I say that this stigma is AWFUL. It not only makes you feel isolated and shameful and alone, but it also compromises many people’s ability to get the help they desperately need.

So before I get into the nitty gritty, let me just say this: this post is not easy to write. At all. And it’s going to be even harder to click “publish” once I’ve gotten all my words out. I’m not writing this because I owe anyone an explanation; I’m not writing it for pity or attention; I’m certainly not writing it because it’s a topic I enjoy discussing. I’m writing it because I hope that by doing so, I can chip away a little at the stigma. Maybe my words will touch someone and encourage them to seek help or speak out about their own struggle.

In high school, around year 10, I began feeling things I’d never felt before. I started feeling empty, directionless, sad, tired, ugly, self-conscious, and tons of other emotions that a 15-year-old shouldn’t have to feel. Basically, I thought of myself as a waste of space. No matter what my friends and family told me, and no matter how much love I was shown, nothing got through to me. I would’ve given anything to make those feelings go away. Eventually I began to feel like everyone would be better off without me, and I started having suicidal thoughts. Months passed and I felt like I was in total darkness all the time. One night found me in the emergency room, and as quickly as I’d been taken there I was taken back home with a hospital bracelet and a list of further options. That’s how I wound up in therapy.

Therapy was an easy choice for me because I knew I was no good at remembering to take daily pills and I’ve always liked to complain about my problems to anyone who’ll listen. But the first time—hell, the first 5 times—walking into my therapist’s office were HARD. It took me a few different therapists to finally find one whom I trusted and felt comfortable around, and when I finally did, it took a session or two before we were completely on the same page about everything. Every time I walked into the waiting room, I was consumed with the anxiety that I’d see someone I know.

But before I knew it, I was feeling better. Much better; better than I had thought was even possible. I finally started to step out of my darkness and see that life was worth living. I got to talk to someone for an hour a week with no interruptions, no judgement, and no outside biases. My therapist was always on my side in every situation, wanting to help me. She didn’t know me outside of her office, and she didn’t know anyone from other parts of my life. She existed in my life solely to bring me healing. She didn’t make me feel guilty or shameful for the things I’d felt in the past, and she put things into perspective for me in a way that no one else could have. Therapy not only changed my life, but saved it—week after week, session after session.

There is a massive stigma and lots of vast misconceptions surrounding therapy. Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re crazy or messed up. You don’t need to be experiencing any type of mental illness or other struggle to benefit from therapy. There are tons of different reasons people seek out therapy, not least of them being the chance to simply vent and rant to a listening ear. There are no ink blots or leather couches you have to lie down on. Nobody is “reading your mind” or “shrinking your head”. Someone is there to listen to you and offer insight. They’re not going to judge you or share what you’ve told them; they know what they’re talking about and can offer you tips and advice that will actually help you.

While my mental health struggles have taken on different—fortunately, less severe—forms since high school, I can proudly say that I haven’t fallen back into that darkness. Knowing that therapy is an option I can lean on at any time is comforting beyond words. I wouldn’t be in the place I’m in now—mentally, physically, academically, emotionally—if it weren’t for me taking the scary steps that I took in high school toward the help that I needed. And, of course, I never would have taken those steps if it weren’t for the encouragement of my family.

If you’re in need of someone to talk to and don’t know where else to turn, consider therapy. If you’re struggling with your mental health, consider therapy. If you’re going through something tough at the moment, consider therapy. And if you’re considering therapy, try reaching out and letting people you love and trust know that you’re considering it; they may give you the extra push or support you need. Getting rid of the stigma and normalising these methods of self-help begins with understanding.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call this hotline.

If you’re worried about someone you know, here are some resources that will help you help them.

Never feel like you have to stay silent. There are so many people who love you and want you to feel whole.