Care for yourself with these Wellness Apps

Wellness apps are coming into a renaissance as development spurred thanks to the health features of our cellphones. Wearables like FitBits and Apple Watches have added easier ways of getting relevant data - physical activity and heart rate, for example. For women in particular, there are great ways to improve wellness, and get proactive on our physical and mental health.

Menstrual cycle insight

A favorite cycle monitoring app is Clue. This period tracker was developed in Copenhagen and has a clean, grown up design - no “butterflies or euphemisms” as they explain on their site. The cycle tracker is straightforward, highlights many symptoms, you can even customize the interface to make it more efficient. After a few months, the predictions can be pretty spot on (pun intended), though for some of us with more irregular cycles it can be tricky. One thing that makes Clue more fun to use is the complementary newsletter. You receive personalized information, like average cycle and period lengths. The app connects different time of your cycle with parts of your body that you may not have realized were related. Clue also partnered with the Kinsey Institute, and released a report on how apps are used to find partners (both long and short-term), and have used data from users to dispel the myth that menstrual cycles sync up for couples when they both have their period.

Pregnancy support - before, during and after

Formerly known as Ovuline, Ovia Health has made a trifecta of apps for the ladies who want to get pregnant, and beyond. Their first app, Ovia Fertility launched in June 2012, is a period, mood and symptom tracker that offers some support for irregular periods. But this app is clearly less for avoiding pregnancy, and very much geared towards conception and fertility, and the mode for those not trying to conceive is labelled “Not trying yet.” Apparently to Ovia, it’s only a matter of time.

Once the first app has worked its rhythm magic on your uterus, you’re ready for Ovia Pregnancy. You can track your physical activity, weight, sleep cycle and moods, and quickly look up foods, medications and symptoms within the app. Ovia Pregnancy also alerts you when those symptoms could signify something dangerous for you or the baby.

The newest member of the trio is the Parenting app, launched in October 2016. Parenting, the app with the most functionality for the non-gestating parent, gives updates on and tracks development milestones for the little one. Parents can also connect anonymously with other couples, engage in conversations, and share their personal stories.

Though these apps are great for examining the minutiae of gestation and baby health, it’s important to remember they do not replace professional monitoring. Additionally, they can detract from the organic processes that are occurring, and distract from being present for ourselves, partner and child, according to a doula consultant.

An online GP and OB-GYN

Finding a health provider and getting to an appointment can be difficult for many people. But questions and simple problems can often be resolved via remote appointment - and Maven Clinic does just that as a virtual clinic for general and reproductive health. Signing up is simple, and you can requests appointments for general health issues including birth control and allergy questions. Other areas of coverage are nutrition and physical therapy, mental health and wellness, prenatal and postpartum care, and pediatrics.

Maven makes a point to make it as easy as possible - you can select a care provider based on thier detailed bios, and many have video introductions so you get a great feel for the person you are making an appointment with. The folks at Maven also make it clear that they prioritize privacy as much as they want to make healthcare easy and accessible - pretty much as easy as asking Google a medical question, and much more helpful!

Text therapy and active listeners

While Maven offers mental healthcare support, an app with more robust offerings in this area is 7 Cups. The app connects you to a licensed therapist, counselor or psychiatrist for support and medication via text. While the provider doesn’t respond in real time, it’s still a convenient way to communicate, and may be less intimidating for someone new to mental healthcare than a physical appointment and an in-person conversation. After the 3 day trial, there is a monthly flat charge with many complimentary features. Some free features include forums and group support chat with Active Listeners - members who completed an online course to offer thier support. There are also “Paths,” or exercises that aim to strengthen peace of mind or positivity - like the "7 Steps to a Better You", which comes with animations that encourage mindful breathing or writing exercises to take action to address anxiety. There are other personalized paths, such as for depression and ADHD.

Between the totally free apps and complementary features, there are no more excuses not to be mindful of your wellness. The New Year is a great time to tackle those self-care resolutions. Hopefully we found something useful for you or someone you know!

Cover Photo: helen-owen.com

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