Improve Your Health with Smartphone Technology

We were always told that when we got to the 21st century, we’d all be traveling in rockets and technology would improve our lives in amazing ways. Well, we don’t commute via rockets yet and we don’t quite have diagnostic health tricorders like those on Star Trek (or do we?—see the end of this article), but the pace of our lives is quickening (thank you millennials!) and we do have some amazing tools to help us. Try these three approaches to learn how to use your smartphone to improve your health.

See your phone as a tool

If you’re already a master of mobile apps and a sultan of the smartphone, then congratulations! You’re leaps and bound ahead of most of your peers (now you just have to be prepared to be tech support for everyone else…).

But, if you’re one of the many who don’t know all the ins and outs of your smartphone, the good news is that the answer to just about any tech issue is only a Google search away. From the basics like how to download an app to just about any advanced topic you can think of, there’s usually an article or a YouTube video about it.

And if you’re one of the few still resisting the smartphone trend, consider getting one if only for the sheer number of useful tools available like pedometers and prescription managers. And with prices coming down, phones have never been more affordable.

Use your phone to get smart

If you’re already on board, and like most people are looking for tools to help you stay healthy, we have some recommendations. For a good catch-all tool to help you with just about any health issue when you’re on the go, then our LifeArmor app is for you. (If you have more time, dig deeper into the same topics on the companion website AfterDeployment.)

You can also use these tools to perform a self-diagnosis. With a variety of self-assessments, both LifeArmor and AfterDeployment offer ways for you to see where you stand. After taking an assessment, if you think you have a problem, start by reading up on that topic on AfterDeployment.

Build skills using your phone

If you want to go beyond learning and assessment and get into some hands-on skill building, we have apps for that too. Diaphragmatic breathing helps you control your body’s anxiety response, and is one of the easiest skills to learn. Our Breathe2Relax app will coach you on how to learn and practice this type of breathing.

T2’s Mindfulness Coach app can help you slow down and pay more attention to things in your life. Living in the present has been shown to improve your life in a variety of ways—so why not give it a try!

Another practice that can help you is being aware of how you’re feeling throughout the day. Use our T2 Mood Tracker app to keep tabs on your ups and downs. It can help you see patterns that can lead to new insights about how you think and feel.

And sometimes we all need a reminder of the positive things in our lives. Our Virtual Hope Box app keeps those reminders at your fingertips so you always have them handy when you need a boost.

There you go—try one or all of these three approaches to get yourself up to speed on the latest in smartphone technology to boost your mood, help you relax, and find tips and tricks to improve your health. And actually—maybe smartphones aren’t that far away from Star Trek’s diagnostic scanners—the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is a global competition to revolutionize digital healthcare by creating a mobile device that can monitor your health and accurately diagnose 16 health conditions. The seven teams of finalists are undergoing judging this very month for the $10 million prize!

David Cooper, Psy.D. is a psychologist and Mobile Applications Lead at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2).

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


Read other posts by Dr. David Cooper