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Self-care Toolkit: use your iPhone to be kind to yourself

Use technology for good by bringing more relaxation, mindfulness and joy to your life

Technology has a reputation for negatively impacting people’s lives. But with the right approach, your iPhone can help you take better care of your own wellbeing.

In this round-up, we outline ways to cut through noise and bring more mindfulness to your life – offline and online – by working with technology in a smarter way, installing great apps, and using useful accessories.

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Reduce noise: Notifications add stress and mental load – and are rarely relevant. Cut them to a minimum, leaving only those that matter (such as email VIPs). Use Focus to let you trigger a quiet time when you need one.

Tame social networks: Today’s timelines are a never-ending stream of bad news. Mute accounts/organizations that make you feel bad. Use features (Twitter lists; Screen Time) to surface positivity and alert you when you’ve spent more than 15 minutes in a social network app.

Find your friends: Many people thrive on social interaction, and yet it’s all too easy to let relationships slip. Wherever your friends live, or however you know them, make use of technology to regularly keep in touch.


Infuse good habits: Use a tracker to add positive habits to your routine. We’re not robots, though, so start with just a few new habits, use a system with flexibility, and avoid giving yourself a hard time if you break a streak.

Prioritize joy: Own your pleasures and use your iPhone to experience them on a more regular basis. Keen on making music? Dig into GarageBand. Enjoy comedy? Subscribe to podcasts. Like word games? There are many bite-sized options to try.

Regularly switch off: Don’t live entirely in your iPhone. Use Screen Time to track usage and ensure it’s at a healthy level. Ideally, keep and charge your phone out of your bedroom, so it doesn’t affect your sleep.

Download these apps


Portal (free + IAP): For the visually inclined, this wellbeing app combines restful audio with serene scenes that range from gorgeous landscapes to crackling fireplaces.

Oak (free): Elegant and simple, this meditation app includes guided and unguided options, along with a range of breathing exercises.

Streaks ($4.99/£4.49): This habit tracker effectively has you hone in on a small number of tasks (ideally, six) to add – or remove – from your daily routine.

White Noise+ (free or $4.99/£4.49): Many ambient noise apps aim to help you concentrate and relax. This one has a swish interface to help you make personal sound mixes.


Kontaktr ($0.99/89p): Losing touch with friends? Define statuses, schedule catch-ups and log recent activity in this simple, effective app.

NetNewsWire (free): Avoid the deluge of news by picking and choosing sources you care about, and then read articles in a distraction-free interface.

Moodistory ($4.99/£4.49): Keep tabs on how your mood changes over time with this low-effort tracker. A couple of taps a day is all it takes – although you can add journal notes too.

Lake (free + IAP): Coloring can help people relax – and this is the best iPhone coloring app, with plenty of free images and coloring-based mood journalling.

Connect this hardware

Apple Watch (from $279/£249): Keep tabs on health activity and exercise/meditation sessions with Apple’s wearable. But avoid the Series 3 – new watchOS support ends this September.

AirPods Pro ($249/£239): Eliminate unwanted sound and get some peace with Apple’s in-ear headphones – or use Conversation Boost to better focus on someone talking to you.

HomePod ($99/£89): If music or podcasts lift your mood, your iPhone’s speaker won’t be enough. Apple’s small, powerful, colorful speaker is a must.

Philips light bar (from $89.99/£64.99): Color affects mood. With this light bar – or multiple units – you can choose from 16 million(!) hues, controlling everything right from your iPhone.

Dekala Arkenstone ($109.99): Stop waking up feeling groggy by having this sunlight alarm mimic dawn (including birdsong) – but at a time of your choosing. It also includes meditation and breathing training modes.

IKEA Bergenes phone stand ($3.49/£2): Finally, to prop your phone up while partaking in yoga or meditation, you need a stand. This IKEA one is cheap, rugged and light. Buy several!