Tech Support for the Body and Mind: Monitor Your Health with Digital Devices
Trying to make smarter health choices? Want to improve your mental well-being? Help may be as close as your wrist.
Health trackers don’t just count steps anymore, and smartwatches do much more than tell time. Wearable technology can monitor stress levels, sleep quality, blood oxygen levels, ovulation and more.
“I’m encouraged by the use of health trackers by many of my patients,” said Avni Jain, MD, family medicine physician with Adventist HealthCare. “Along with your doctor’s advice, they can be great tools to help achieve your overall health goals.”
Make the most out of your health tracker with these tips:
Set goals: If your watch or wearable fitness device allows you to enter health goals, such as number of steps to walk, minutes of exercise to complete or ounces of water to consume, set these features. Using them will help to hold you accountable.
Track your progress: Looking at your behavior over time will help you see where you need the most focus and allow you to determine ways to make changes.
Check your numbers: Share data from your device with your doctor, who can encourage you and help you make a plan to improve.
Apps for Mental Health
Technology can help with mental health, too. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health show mental health apps are successful in reducing anxiety and depression when they are paired with a treatment plan. Even if you are not in treatment, apps may help symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression.
Some apps that the mental health team at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center suggests are:
- Sanvello helps people struggling with stress, anxiety or depression. It also encourages other healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise, sleep and moderation of caffeine or alcohol.
- Headspace focuses on meditative thought and is helpful for those new to the concept of mindfulness practices. The app’s features give users an overview of the science behind the exercises.
- Therachat is a platform that allows counselors to schedule assignments and track the mood of their clients in between sessions. The app includes stress tracking, journaling, sleep tracking and live textual analysis of word usage.
- MoodKit uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help users track and manage their moods over time. MoodKit includes activities designed to improve mood, a journaling feature and a “thought checker” that helps identify distorted thought processes.