By Shayna Mace
Although I try to limit my screen time, lately, it’s crept up. And I’m OK with it because right now, it’s a little bit of a crazy time. So, I’m allowing myself grace in all of the things I’ve had to handle as a parent these last few weeks: work, homeschooling, keeping up with household chores and trying to be present for my kids.
One thing that’s helped is a number of apps that help to reign in the craziness of life—and bonus—boost my mental and physical health. Here are five apps I’ve been using lately.
This meal-planning app has been a game-changer for my family. We try to cook the majority of our meals at home and now we’ve been doing it even more (obviously!). Users can choose various menu types (pescetarian, classic, low-carb, keto, flexitarian, paleo, vegetarian and vegan), how many people you’re feeding and ingredients you dislike (hello, olives and beets!). You simply select from recipes they’ve curated for you and the app automatically generates a list of groceries for you to buy—with the correct quantities. It’s SO much faster than going through a whole cookbook! We also like that you can add your own ingredients to your list too—so if there’s anything else you need at the grocery store, you can add custom ingredients to your list, too. We have the basic version (free) but are thinking about upgrading to the Pro version ($49.99/year) where you can filter by nutrients, cook time and more—and select from a larger library of recipes.
Sleep is so imperative to our mental and physical health that it’s no longer a badge of honor to skimp on sleep. I’ve used Sleep Cycle for about a year now to gain insight into my sleep patterns and how well I sleep. Users fill out “sleep notes” before they go to bed such as if they had caffeine that day, exercised and more. In the morning a graph is generated of how long you spent in light and deep sleep, if you snored and more. The best part about Sleep Cycle is you can set an alarm so you’re woken up during your lightest sleep phase, which has been shown to make you feel the most refreshed upon waking up.
My husband’s family has been using this to record short video snippets of a day in their life. It’s very easy to do, and videos upload into a carousel for everyone who’s a part of the group, and plays seamlessly into the next video. It may be something as simple as watching as a few of the new babies in the family play, one of the aunts walking on a treadmill and chatting and others giving short updates of what’s going on in their lives. Many times it’s people replying back and forth in videos, which is fun. It’s just the thing we need right now—capturing the mundane, yet sweet and simple things in life—and connecting with family.
Map My Run by Under Armour
I’ve had this app for a few years now so this one isn’t new—but I’ve been ramping up my use of it more now that I’ve started to run outdoors again with the slightly warmer weather. (I’m not a cold-weather runner!). Although the majority of my workouts are still home-based since I can’t go to the gym (I’ve been doing Beachbody for a couple of years now) there’s still nothing like going outside and pounding the pavement a few times a week. It’s a huge stress-reliever!
I’d like to practice meditation daily but admittedly, I haven’t nailed down the habit yet. Downloading Stop, Breathe & Think is my first foray into meditation, which has a myriad of benefits. The other day I tried a three-minute check-in, which guided me through a relaxation exercise, then asked me to fill out how I felt afterward. It’s a great app for newbies, and the shorter exercises are nice to try out before launching into longer meditation sessions. The interface is so user-friendly, too!