Embracing Tech for Wellness
The autoimmune protocol isn’t just a diet; it’s a well rounded approach to healing that focuses on all aspects of life including self care, sleep, and stress management. I’ve found that as I focus more on creating a wellness focused lifestyle, the more in tune I’m becoming to my symptoms (emotional and physical). Focusing on sleep and stress/anxiety management have been key to my healing, and responsibly using tech has made those aspects even easier to tackle.
Technology doesn’t have to be the enemy when it comes to wellness and self care. There are so many ways to support yourself with the responsible use of tech by optimizing your devices to serve your wellness.
The main areas that these suggestions help with are sleep and circadian rhythms, meditation and mindfulness, and staying active (even in small ways during flare ups). I’m not going into the details of why these areas are important because this post is long enough as it is, and there are people a lot smarter than me who have written books and entire blogs on the subjects (see my Resources Page). It really all boils down to true self care habits every day (this doesn’t mean a mani pedi on the weekends and some dry brushing once in a while), and prioritizing your body’s needs.
One of the biggest ways to optimize an iPhone (and any Apple product for that matter) is to utilize the Night Shift function. It’s important for your body’s circadian rhythm to limit blue light exposure at night, and increase it during the day. With this feature you can adjust the tone of colors on your screens to warm (less blue light) or cool (more blue light) settings. If you don’t use Apple products, there are several apps with similar functionality. I’ve even started adjust the tones on my TV at night to warmer, darker settings. In a perfect world we just wouldn’t use any screens at night, but that’s not entirely practical 100% of the time. You can set Night Shift from sunset to sunrise, but I usually schedule it to turn on about 1-2 hours before sunset (especially in the spring and summer months). I also use Night Shift during the day if I have a tension headache or migraine.
Medisafe Medication reminder that tracks the quantities of medication you have, and reminds you when it’s time to buy more.
Insight Timer My favorite meditation app with a general timer/music feature as well as guided meditations and social features.
Evernote I use Evernote for my food and symptom tracking. I tried several apps but none had useful functionality for interpreting and correlating the data. I will write a more detailed post about this soon, but I basically use notes for different days and tags for symptoms which allows me to correlate when and how frequently I’m experiencing certain things by filtering the tags.
Ovia Fertility I’ve used Ovia Fertility to track my menstrual cycle for over 2 years now (and I used to work for them before moving!). Ovia has the most in-depth symptom tracker. I cross reference this with my Evernote tracking.
AnyList Meal plan, save recipes, and create grocery lists (great share function with the husband).
Apple Health Apple Health helps to keep all of your health data in one place. In addition to a saved medical ID with a list of conditions, medications, and emergency contacts it also compiles data for steps/activity tracking, heart rate monitoring (with Apple Watch), body measurements, and integration with other health apps.
It seems counterintuitive, but the Apple Watch made a huge impact on my addiction to my phone and mindless social media scrolling. I utilize my watch to assist in things like alarms, easy access to reminders, music/podcasts, and even the time (imagine that, it’s even functional as an actual watch!). I’m less reliant on my phone for the practical things, so I use it less for the mindless things. I love using having the watch when I go for walks, grocery shopping, or just doing things around the house. I feel less of a need to carry the phone around with me everywhere I go; most of the time I leave my phone at home or buried in a bag.
These are the most helpful features of the watch:
Apple Health Syncing I always assumed that I was paying attention to my daily fitness: going for walks, taking the stairs, trying not to sit for long periods of time. Step counters always seemed silly; why bother wearing one of those if my phone was doing the tracking? Turns out that’s not super reliable if I forget my phone, or don’t take it down the street with me to the grocery store. The Watch is always on (except for the 30 minutes a day I need to charge it). I’m constantly capturing data about how my body is doing, so I can more confidently know whether I am staying active... even on days that I physically cannot workout.
Breathe and Stand Reminders These functions are so simple, but incredibly helpful when working at a desk for extended periods of time. The breathe reminder periodically prompts me to complete deep breathing exercises throughout the day. Breathing exercises are so important for stress management and mindfulness. The stand reminder is exactly as it sounds. It reminds me to stand if I’ve been sitting for an hour, and alerts me when I’ve completed the two minutes of necessary movement. This type of subtle movement during the day provides incredible health benefits to counteract inactivity.
Alarm I was not a morning person — it took 5 alarms to get me up every morning. This small feature made the biggest impact on regulating my sleep schedule. At first I was hesitant to wear my Apple Watch all night while I slept, but it’s so worth it once you get used to it! The alarm on the watch is a small vibration, so it wakes you up calmly unlike a blaring noisy alarm. To be honest, I don’t know why this made the biggest impact on my sleep schedule, but after only a few days of using this feature I was waking up at my desired time as soon as my silent alarm went off. I’ve now gotten to the point where I’ve regulated my schedule so I don’t even need the alarm. I highly recommend ditching your phone’s alarms! This also makes it easier to leave my phone in another room at bedtime.
Kindle With the Kindle app on all my devices I can read anywhere without lugging around books. Don’t get me wrong, I love my physical books, and miss them everyday while they’re in storage. I can’t wait for the time when we will be reunited again. But, keeping physical books while we’re traveling so often is just not practical. When traveling I use my iPad mini to read, and occasionally my phone, but at home before bed I use my actual Kindle device because it doesn’t omit any light. It’s a perfect alternative to physical books if you’re trying to limit screen time at night.
Smart Bulbs I was resistant to these when Brandon first wanted to make our apartment into a smart home. I now concede and admit they make a huge impact in regulating sleep. We are able to control the temperature and brightness of the lights, and can set “scenes” to schedule times for specific settings. This was especially helpful during a gloomy Berlin winter when daylight is only about 7.5 - 8 hours. During this time we would set the lights to turn on in the morning with cool tones to help with waking up at a normal time. During the spring and summer we still make use of them to optimize for low, warm light at bedtime.
Air Quality MonitorAir Quality Monitor We use an air quality monitor (also part of our smart home system) that syncs to an air purifier. Living in the city makes it hard to keep the air in our apartment clean — especially in Berlin where there are constantly smokers walking by our building. This, in addition to a handful of plants makes me feel slightly better about our air quality at home. Heads up though, I’ve found that if I run an essential oil diffuser it effects the air quality monitor.
The biggest takeaway here is technology isn’t evil, and if used in a responsible, mindful way can have positive impacts on you wellness. All of these implementations were small changes that took minimal effort, yet they had huge impact on our quality of life and my healing.
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