NEW YORK CITY — The holidays can be a stressful time for many New Yorkers.
And the gloomy winter weather doesn't typically lift spirits, either, noted Dr. Marra Ackerman, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone Medical Center.
The new year, however, offers an opportunity for renewal, and the tools to track and steer that process are a download away on your smartphone.
In Dr. Ackerman's opinion, apps such as Lifesum, which helps dieters monitor their food intake, and Headspace, which offers guided meditation sessions, "are certainly useful at this time when phones are such a big part of our day, and we’re so used to going to [them] for so many resources, to take notes, to remind us of things."
According to the psychotherapeutic model of cognitive behavioral therapy, the first step in the path to changing anything from your outlook to your sleeping patterns to your exercise routine should be monitoring your current behavior.
Many of the apps we've rounded up below will help you do just that. Some will motivate you to pick up new habits.
But technology won't do all of your work for you and it may not fit your personal needs, Dr. Ackerman cautioned.
Apps tend to come in "one-size-fits-all," she said. "If someone has really severe depression or severe anxiety, an application alone is certainly not going to be sufficient, although it might be a good starting place and it might be a good adjunctive treatment.”
With that caveat in mind, DNAinfo presents below 10 apps you may want to try out in 2017:
If you've been drinking too much this holiday season, you can use DrinkControl to track your alcohol intake. The app converts quantities like glasses, bottles or cans into standard units of alcohol, letting you know when you're exceeding moderate drinking guidelines. It also tallies the total amount of money spent on alcohol and the number of calories consumed.
T2 Mood Tracker helps you monitor and record your emotional states, for your own personal insight and for examination with a therapist. The app visualizes your mood ratings over time on easy-to-read graphs. You can use it to take notes on and keep track of symptoms related to anxiety, depression, general wellbeing and stress.
Price: free trial followed by a subscription of either $12.99 per month or $94.99 a year
Headspace calls itself the "gym for the mind" with two minute to an hour mind exercises and meditation lessons. An example of a mind exercise might be as simple as focusing on your breathing for a few minutes eventually letting your mind wander to whatever it wants. You can track how often you meditate and a buddy system allows for accountability between friends.
The Smiling Mind is a nonprofit organization from Australia created by educators and psychologists with meditation help for ages 7 and up. There are specific categories for those who need support in the workplace, classroom and sports. For example, the adult program offers 10 modules in training and guided meditations to help you be present, be a better listener and pay more attention to emotions and thoughts.
Breathe2Relax teaches deep, or diaphragmatic, breathing techniques as a means of reducing stress in the short and long term. It offers guidance through breathing exercises, asking you to rate your stress level before and after. You can tailor those exercises to your preferences by selecting the background scenery and music, and by setting the length of each breath. The app also explains the biology and effects of stress in text and videos.
You can use this app to store pictures, videos, messages, songs and quotes that lift your mood when you're stressed or unhappy. Virtual Hope Box also provides users with tools to distract them from negative emotions (like Sudoku and word search puzzles), a selection of inspiring quotes, guided meditations and breathing exercises, and an activity planner.
Price: the very basic app is free. Upgrade for $9.99 a month or $39.99 a year to access all the features
Runkeeper has more than 50 million users with good reason. It uses GPS to track jogging routes, measuring speed and distance. There are training plans developed by expert coaches. You can compete against other users or your friends with the progress you've made. Runkeeper also links to Spotify for your running soundtrack needs.
Twelve minutes isn’t long at all. The 12 Minute Athlete has more than 200 HIIT workouts. HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, is a short-burst workout of exercises such as burpees or lunges followed by a few seconds of active rest. Then, repeat. The huge selection of workouts includes apartment-friendly options and some that require zero equipment.
Price: the basic app is free; the upgrade costs $47 a year
Lifesum will zero your focus on your diet by tracking everything you eat as well as how much you exercise. Users choose one of three categories: “Be Healthier,” “Lose Weight” or “Gain Weight.” Based on their selection, users can access a food rating system that measures calories, saturated, fat, sugar and salt levels. Recipes are also available to keep you on track.
I Quit Sugar is more of a program with a web platform to help you through it. The program lasts for eight weeks with the next one starting on Jan. 12 and it is done as a group, which is excellent for accountability. Over the eight weeks you will wean yourself off sugar entirely (including fruit!) and then gradually bring it back into your diet at a healthy level. The online platform provides recipes, meal plans and shopping lists as well as nutritionists who are on hand to answer your sugar questions.