Finding time for self-care can be tricky, especially in the always-on, digitally connected world we live in. Even when we mean to relax, there are often distractions like work emails or Facebook messages at our fingertips. But believe it or not, your phone can also be a tool to help you prioritize self-care—as long as you know how to make it work for you.
We’ve rounded up the best apps and tech for promoting personal health and making time to recharge your batteries, so you can fill your phone with tools that deliver good vibes only. Because, hey, if you’re going to have your phone around 24/7, it might as well help you take care of yourself.
Happify (free; iTunes and Google Play)
This app lets you select the mental health and wellbeing goals you want to focus on (think reducing stress or building confidence), and then gives you quick games and activities to help you move the needle on these goals. You’ll track your overall happiness and how it changes with time on the app, too.
Shine Text (free; shinetext.com)
Sign up for Shine Text to receive a daily text message with motivational quotes, affirmations, positive psychology articles, and tips for how to start your morning in an optimistic mood. The company claims that 93% of people who use Shine Text report feeling more confident and happy than they were before. Also cool: If you refer 10 friends, you can score free swag.
Gratitude Journal (free; iTunes and Google Play)
Think of this app as a virtual journal that reminds you to record what you’re grateful for each day, with the option to share it with friends if you want. You can also take photos and tag friends and locations so you can look back on the people and places that made you smile. Practicing gratitude has been shown to make people happier, and having the ability to journal on your phone makes it even easier to find time to reflect on the stuff you’re thankful for.
Headspace (free for first 10 sessions; iTunes and Google Play)
This meditation app gets rave reviews for its short guided audio meditations on different themes, ranging from “learning to meditate” to “falling asleep.” The first 10 sessions are free, and after that you can access more meditations by subscribing for $13 a month or $96 a year. Meditation has been shown to help decrease stress and improve focus, and with this app, you can learn to meditate anywhere, at any time—you just need a few minutes a day.
Self-massage is a great way to relive tension and stress, and this app can help improve your skills. The easy-to-use app shows you how to massage various pressure points on the body with illustrated instructions.
Sleep Cycle (free; iTunes and Google Play)
This app functions as a smart alarm that tracks your sleep habits and wakes you up at the optimal time (during your lightest sleep phase) so you feel more rested. Your phone doesn't have to be in bed with you, though; it uses sound analysis to track your sleep. To make sure you're getting the best rest possible, you can also monitor snoring and other sleep stats.
Offtime ($2.99; iTunes and Google Play)
Your phone can actually help you stay on it (when you decide you want to) with Offtime. The app analyzes how you spend time on your phone to deliver honest insight, then you can set barriers to certain apps or features you find distracting, or block texts and calls (while allowing certain numbers to get through). Offtime gives you more control over how you use your phone, allowing you to have undistracted downtime, family time, or work time.
Yoga Studio (free; iTunes and Google Play)
This app allows you to practice yoga literally anywhere—you download classes instead of streaming them so you can watch without an Internet connection. Plus, if you’re a beginner yogi, you'll learn basic moves and can even piece together your own classes with your favorite poses and flows (the app turns them into a seamless video for you). As a bonus, you can also easily schedule classes from the app onto your phone calendar to make sure you're fitting in time for your practice.
Clue (free; iTunes) or Glow (free; iTunes and Google Play)
Keep track of your monthly cycle with Clue. This period tracker app allows you to monitor how you’re feeling, skin problems, and sexual activity, so you can notice any patterns in your cycle. This can give you the info you need to prioritize self-care before you’re in desperate need of it. Glow is another great period tracker that syncs with many fitness watches and apps, so it can help you find patterns in activity levels and your cycle.
Talkspace ($32 a week; iTunes)
If you’re ever felt too busy for therapy, this app is for you. Talkspace matches you with a licensed therapist through a free consultation. Once you've connected with a therapist, you can text them daily (they usually respond once or twice a day, depending on an agreement you set up with them). Even better: Couples can use it, too.