Unless you're rocking a circa-2003 Motorola RZR, then odds are you rely a lot on your phone to do everything from check email to scroll through Instagram. The result? Spending a lot of time on your phone — perhaps too much time. Well, while people are increasingly making the case for unplugging (which, for the record, I'm generally in support of), I'm here to say that instead of making technology an obstacle in your journey towards mental wellbeing, leverage it as another tool in your arsenal.
As someone who's constantly fielding emails from publicists and scrolling through social media and shopping sites scouring for trends, I inherently am on my device nearly 24/7. However, after going through a difficult period of my life a year ago, I've been focusing on cultivating a healthy relationship with things like Instagram and being constantly plugged in. That said, when I was mindlessly scrolling through the App Store while my phone updated Amazon, Google Maps, and Netflix, I came across an adorable 8-bit icon of a plant seedling that immediately made me click. The name of the app? Aloe Bud, dubbed your "self-care pocket companion." Okay, you have my attention now!
I've been around the block when it comes to meditation apps: I built an impressive "run streak" on Headspace (only to forget about it during a 13-hour flight to Tokyo, oops), tried Calm for its Sleep Stories, and use the built-in Breathe app regularly on my Apple Watch. Aloe Bud, however, doesn't really fit into any of these molds. There aren't any soothing voices in British accents gently instructing you to do a mental scan or visualize a ray of sunlight emanating from within or immersive stories meant for lulling you to a deep slumber; instead, the app is rather simple in design, with functionalities that remind the user to do things like take a phone break, sip some water, do some deep breathing, or get up for some steps or stretching. You know, things that tend to fall by the wayside when you're on deadline or have back-to-back meetings.
That said, the genius behind Aloe Bud is that it seamlessly encourages these wellness prompts by showing them exactly where you're most likely to see them — your phone screen. The interface is super simple: After downloading the free app, you can add your chosen reminders (i.e. Rest, Hydrate, Fuel, Breathe, Move), and create customized push notifications for as often (or not) as you like. The app allows you to choose from presets like everyday, every workday, or every weekend, but being a Virgo, I opted to pick certain days of the week for certain reminders for the ultimate customized schedule. If all of this is starting to sound like a lot of work, I promise it's really not; the best thing about the app is that you have to do all of this once (or change it if notifications are too often or not enough), and then forget about it and let Aloe Bud do the rest. Even on my busiest days, the reminders tend to pop up when I've completely forgotten ever setting them in the first place — which is exactly why I'm glad I did.
Since downloading the app two months ago, the push notifications have helped me press pause when I need it the most. It's fully earned its second-page status on my phone (the first page is reserved for the boring, important stuff like "Google Maps," "Weather," and "Mail"), and honestly, it may just be the best thing to happen to my phone in a very long time.
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