Being proactive about how good your mind and body feels is not a small task. It’s even worse when you’ve maybe let yourself get into a rut and everything seems like an impossible effort. I’m using this wonderful time in the world to best enhance my mental health with endless technological advances. It’s so fun and exciting to discover new ways to nurture my mind with online doctor consults, fitness trackers, light therapy and more. Here’s what has helped me the most lately!
Track Your Exercise Efforts
The top thing most professionals suggest if your mood is low is to get out and move. That rush of endorphins is no joke – this natural response to moving moderately can help alleviate feeling of anxiety and depression over time.
For me personally, I need to see progress and keep track of how I’m doing in order to keep a routine going. I had to really commit to daily exercise, no matter how small, to truly stick to a new habit and feel motivated to continue. When doing so, I wanted some help to know exactly how my body was reacting to this newfound movement, no matter if I was running on trails outside, hiking, swimming or in my yoga studio. For my first fitness tracker, I gave the TomTom Adventurer watch a try and have been very pleases with all its features. I love that I can use it when pounding the pavement in the city, or while skiing in the Alps next week on a big winter trip
The versatility is wonderful and way beyond the basics of heart rate and distance. If anything, it’s motivated me (and my husband, who loves it too) to be more vigorous in our workouts and spend time outdoors – both wonderful mental health boosts. At the end of the day I also stay calm and have peace of mind – the built-in GPS system has a ‘breadcrumb’ feature so I can run all day and never get lost.
The wireless Bluetooth player keeps me focused and on track too, able to run and exercise longer than ever before without being bored. All my activities, distances, calories, heart rate and even altitude are stored and displayed on the watch and the TomTom Sports App on my phone.
Turn on the Light
Living in London can be cold, wet and dark much of the year. Was surprised how much the setting sun seemed to weigh in on my mood, especially when it’d dip below the horizon before 4PM. This gradually improved with the Lumie Zest light for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It’s a small box you can place near your bed, on the breakfast table or, in my case, on my home office desk.
I turn it on for 30-90 minutes a day to enjoy indirect LED blue lights that can give you a little energy boost and not feel do down about being indoors all day. Lights double as a more natural alarm clock in the morning, and can even help alleviate jetlag after long-haul flights.
Connect with Experts Virtually
There are few excuses these days to not keep tabs on your mental and physical health. Definitely don’t go Googling all your symptoms, but utilize the internet for great information from experts and doctors. I found a wonderful therapist through the British Psychological Society and booked an initial appointment with her online.
When I needed to chat with someone about medication and my health while traveling, I used an app on my phone called Push Doctor. It actually connected me to a British doctor via my Facetime to answer questions and even prescribe medications. There is a fee, but it’s nice to have someone on hand for peace of mind. I still go to my GP (general practitioner, or primary in the states) for my appointments, but it was nice to have some second opinions and options in a pinch. Use the promo code “eileen1486” if you want to give it a try for £5 off your first appointment.
At the End of the Day, Unplug
I am completely terrible at this. Before I finally close my eyes for the day, I’m usually staring at my smartphone screen with a few last-minute scrolls. While I think I’m relaxing my brain, I’m actually stimulating it with the lights, sounds and information streaming in while I hope to get rest.
It seems a little crazy, but I actually do feel different when the tech is left outside the bedroom. Some even say the blue light left by TVs, phones and laptops can wreak havoc on the way you relax and sleep. The one thing I do allow at night though is the TomTom Adventurer. Although it’s mainly used for my fitness tracking, I have started to play around with the sleep tracking feature. Athletes and medical pros alike often advise that the way you sleep and your REM cycle can be the most important way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and mind. Luckily the watch is fairly comfortable and runs on a long battery life so as not to affect my sleeping habits negatively. I had a tough time with a thumping heart and frantic mind in the morning for a while too, so the watch can let me know when my heart rate is too high, if it’s improving or if I need to do my breathing exercises.
How do you use technology to help with your mental health? What gadgets are best for tracking and monitoring? How do you ‘unplug’ at the end of the day?