Phones generally get a bad rap when it comes to our health and wellness. We quite often hear about how we’re all spending too much time glued to our phone screens, necks bent, posture shot to pieces, and disconnected from the actual real-life world. However, I’m here today to put a bit of a spin on it, and instead explore the ways in which your trusty iPhone 12 can be used as a valuable and powerful tool to help you on your health and wellness journey. You just need to know how to use it!
I am the first to admit that I use my phone more than I probably should. The very nature of my job as a content creator means it can be very difficult to resist the temptation of checking social media countless times a day. What starts off as innocent research for work can soon end up in the dreaded doomscrolling. Sound familiar?
That being said, I wouldn’t be without my phone, especially as over the past few months I’ve been using it in such a way that rather than be detrimental, it has in fact enhanced and improved both my mental and physical wellbeing. And I want to share those things with you now:
I am an over thinker and my mental chatter is strong. Not gonna lie, it’s exhausting. These past couple of years, what with lockdown and going through perimenopause, it’s got worse. Not a moment goes by when I’m not planning things in my head, ticking off mental to do lists, having words with myself. Even when I’m asleep, my dreams are crazy vivid because my mind is still racing with thoughts.
I’ve dabbled a little with meditation in the past, attended a couple of guided group sessions that kind of thing, but have always struggled to completely relax and stop my mind from wandering. However, I know how important it is for my mental health to switch off and disconnect if only for a few minutes each day. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that switching off and disconnecting don’t go hand in hand with phone use. Well, not unless you use a meditation app that is.
If like me, you could do with a helping hand and some serious guidance when it comes to your meditation practice, the use of a meditation app on your phone is an absolute game changer. I have been using a meditation app called Calm for the past couple of weeks and whilst I am far from reaching the Zen-like existence I aspire to, I have noticed I am sweating the small stuff a lot less than normal and the racing thoughts are slowly but surely starting to recede.
Calm offers daily 10-minute guided meditations and you can even set yourself an alarm so that you’re notified at the same time each day, thus creating a positive habit and making yourself accountable – which as we all know is the key to actually sticking to these things. I also like to turn off all other notifications, so that I’m not interrupted during those precious 10 minutes of ‘me’ time.
Hormones And Period Tracking
Pre-lockdown I started noticing things weren’t right with my period. I was getting two a month, experiencing night sweats, and suffered from bouts of anxiety, panic attacks, and crying episodes. Then along came Covid and my mental health sank even lower. It was not a good time. I knew something was wrong and having done a bit of research I suspected I was perimenopausal.
I arranged a call with my GP, who listened to my symptoms, but argued that I wasn’t old enough and that I should take Evening Primrose Oil tablets and she could prescribe me some antidepressants if I wanted. Now, I haven’t got anything against antidepressants per se, but in my gut it didn’t sit right with me. I mean sure they might help with the mental health aspect, but how on earth were they going to sort my erratic, too frequent periods out!?! My gut told me things weren’t right, but I needed proof.
Which is where my phone came in. I downloaded an app called Balance, which is designed to help you keep track of your symptoms, record the severity of them, and to make note of when you have a period. Over time the information gets collated into a report that you can then present to your doctor to help make a case for treatment. Logging onto the app each day on my phone became a daily habit and just as I suspected it was clear things weren’t normal. As well as its tracking capability, the app also includes informative articles about perimenopause and the menopause. Since using the app, I have now been prescribed HRT and have been officially diagnosed as perimenopausal. Without my phone, I know I wouldn’t have kept track of everything in such a precise way – it basically did all the hard stuff for me while I just tapped a few buttons each day.
I am a huge advocate of using affirmations as part of my self-care ritual. However, I am also terrible at sticking to things and at times not so great at putting myself at the top of the pile. I have countless little boxes of self-affirmation cards that I have been sent or gifted over the years, and they’re lovely, but if I’m being completely honest they’re sat collecting dust rather than helping me in any way.
Thank goodness for phone reminders and apps such as Think Up, which is a daily positive affirmation app that allows you to create your own personalised affirmations and then store them in your affirmation library. If the thought of coming up with your own affirmations seems somewhat daunting, you can browse through a selection of pre-written ones under such themes as: health, motivation, abundance, body image, goal setting etc. Once you’ve selected an affirmation it will appear on screen and you can then record yourself saying it and save it into your library to use as and when you feel the need.
The beauty of hearing your own voice is that it encourages self-belief even more so. I find that hearing my own voice on the days when my inner critic is particularly nasty and vocal really helps to cement the belief that I am kind, I am worthy, I am brave, I am enough.
I use my phone for various different reasons when I go running and from a safety point of view, I can never imagine running without it. Every phone has an emergency SOS setting that means you can make a call for help quickly and easily, for example on the iPhone 12 you press and hold both the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. When you drag the Emergency SOS slider it will call the emergency services for you and if you continue to hold the buttons without being able to use the slider, an alert sounds that may be enough to scare an attacker away, alert someone that you need help, or at least buy some valuable time. Thankfully, I haven’t had to use this setting, but it is reassuring to know that it is there, just in case.
Here are the other things I have used my phone for when I run:
- Strava – I used to use this app to record my runs. Useful for telling you how far you’ve run, your pace, whether you’ve improved since your last run etc. You can also see how your friends are doing, so it’s great if you have a competitive streak.
- Maps – So handy if you’re running a new route, especially if like me you love going off road and exploring new trails.
- Spotify – These days I tend not to run with music, as I take my dog out with me and want to focus on him, however in the past I loved listening to music or a podcast if I was running on my own. Nothing beats a bit of Kate Bush when you’re running up a socking great hill!
- NHS Couch to 5K – I used this so much during the first lockdown as a means of getting the kids out and exercising. I’ve been running for years, so it wasn’t necessarily essential for me, but I was keen to get the kids out running with me and that required going back to basics. The husband and I would take it in turns to go out with each kid and we worked through the program together, choosing their favourite coach and regularly getting them out in the fresh air. It did mean I ended up doing more running than usual, as I’d go out on my own as well, but that extra activity and the mental headspace it gave all of us was very much needed.
And finally, this last one is quite a new thing for me but is something I’ve been interested in learning more about and that’s daily horoscopes. My daughter expressed an interest in star signs a few months back and it kind of reignited the interest in me. So together we downloaded the AstroMatrix app, which is free to use for all the basic stuff, and it’s great. You simply enter your basic info, such as your birth date etc. and ideally your birth time as this will provide better readings. You’re then granted access to moon readings, sun readings, tarot readings, a daily horoscope and a few other bits and pieces. I just find the whole thing really interesting and for a free app you get a lot of information. Bit woo woo I know, but I’ve realised that in order for me to feel great I need tools in my wellness toolkit that help me physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I know an iPhone 12 isn’t necessarily the first thing you’d think of when looking for ways to boost your mental wellbeing, however there’s a lot to be said for the tech, and I say if the tech’s there then use it to your advantage. Which ultimately is the way forward. Phone usage is only detrimental to our health if we let it be. Yes, too much time in front of a screen is bad and yes, we all need a break from it. But oh my goodness there are so many ways we can use it for our benefit and hopefully I have shown you a few of those ways today.
I’d love to hear how you use your phone to help with your mental health and wellness, so please get in touch:
Facebook – @thisishealthyliving
Twitter – @ArtHealthLiving
Instagram – @arthealthyliving
Or leave me a comment below.
*This post is in collaboration with O2, however all thoughts and experiences are personal to me.
Becky Stafferton is a content creator, full time procrastinator and mum of 2 kids and 1 aggy cockapoo. She tries to promote a realistic, sustainable and positive image of how to lead a healthy life, whilst also maintaining the fact that life ain’t all fluffy clouds and rainbows. When she’s not writing or sitting on her arse scrolling through social media, she can be found running through muddy puddles, making lists of lists, having a good old moan, doing random Google searches and squatting like her life depends on it.