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How has tech transformed the way we practice self-care?

Though it dates back to the early days of civilized society (after various advances in fields such as agriculture allowed those with significant privilege to delve into the process of looking after oneself), the field of self-care has changed immensely in recent decades.

There are three big reasons for this. Firstly, the advent of automation and rising living standards have left more people in positions to think about it. Secondly, the growth of the internet has made it possible to share information (and become familiar with the concept to begin with). Thirdly, stemming from the other reasons, the stigma around personal struggles has lessened.

Now that people have the time and means to discuss their experiences, it’s becoming ever-more acceptable (even admirable) to talk of things like anxiety and burnout in the public sphere. This is a great thing. Denying those difficulties only makes them worse. But that’s not the only way in which self-care has changed, as technology beyond just the internet has yielded some interesting shifts — and we’re going to explore them in this piece. Let’s begin.

Self-care appliances are aiding at-home relaxation

With an increase in market desire for self-help technology came a proportionate response, and the market is now packed with technology that can help you relax at home. Of particular note here are high-end devices, with those willing to pay substantial sums being able to buy things like infrared saunas. What are the benefits of a sauna? Although they vary from person to person (supplements can enhance a sauna experience for someone who didn’t previously enjoy it), you can generally expect increased oxygenation and extreme relaxation.

There are also low-end self-care appliances, though, that most people can afford. Think about things like smart lights that mimic daytime for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). You can throw in white-noise machines that can prove transformational for those who deal with insomnia. The technology here isn’t new, but the level of accessibility is: many new devices have rich IoT integrations that provide great customizability.

Advice apps are making mindful living easier

What’s the best way to meditate? There’s a lot of information out there, of course, but do you really want to trawl through articles when you’re trying to calm down? Ideally, you want one source of information — and that’s exactly what you can get if you turn to an advice app. Instead of carrying around a relevant book, you can track your progress in an app that tells you exactly what you should be doing and why.

They’re not for everyone, but these apps help so many people take charge of their lives by giving them easy-to-follow routines. And when they need support, they can get it, turning to the customer service teams or even getting in touch with other users of the apps. They can easily form useful communities that cultivate meaningful friendships. Here’s a solid list of mindfulness apps to check out if this sounds interesting to you.

There are other apps that can be used for self-care, of course — even extending to online video games that attract a lot of criticism but are often very good for mental health. For those truly committed to self-care, though, it’s the targeted apps that matter the most.

Podcasts are making walking more appealing

Walking is one of the best ways to stay both physically and mentally fit. It’s free, low-impact, and highly flexible — yet there are those who’ve historically shied away from it as a form of exercise. Why? Well, one reason is that they’ve seen it as boring, but another reason that mustn’t be overlooked is that they’ve been uncomfortable committing to extended periods of silence.

People who suffer from great anxiety and loneliness can fill their days with noise to drown out negative thoughts: listening to music as they work, having fans on while they sleep, etc. But what’s great about the modern day is that the podcast industry has become massive, and there are so many great podcasts out there that people can listen to while they walk. Whether they want direct mental-health-related advice or just want some gentle comedy, they can easily fill their walks with engaging content, allowing them to focus on the exercise and routine.

Photograph by Vu Hoang

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