Stressed? Your Phone Might Actually Be the Answer!
When life gets stressful, I often think, “If it could just be a little bit easier, I can make it.” I said this to my wife last week, and she opened my eyes to this simple little device that I carry around in my pocket. I had thought of my phone as a “stressor,” but she helped me see that, if used well, it can also be a source of tremendous peace, joy, and real-life connections.
Maybe I learned this best because we just had a baby. He’s only days old and there’s a lot to keep track of. Is he eating? Sleeping? Pooping? Check. Did we take pictures? Check. Did we take too many? Check. Do we post on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Not yet. Wait, are we sleeping? Eating? Taking showers? Yeah, I don’t remember. But no matter what happens, my wife never seems to get flustered.
I’ve seen her face many new baby emergencies with a calm demeanor—almost as if she knew ahead of time what was coming. Now, we share our religious beliefs and our love of family—but it seemed she had an ace in the hole. Yesterday I asked her what that was—and she said, “BabyCenter.” I told her I didn’t remember going to any baby center. She laughed. (She loves it when I miss things). She said, “BabyCenter.com. It’s a website and it sends me weekly emails filled with thoughtful ideas about our children.”
She signed up as soon as she found out we were pregnant with our first, and from that day on they’ve sent us emails. “Your child is the size of an acorn,” and, “Your child is the size of a grapefruit.” She says it’s been a great de-stressor. She doesn’t use all of their ideas—in fact only about 10%. But with every email, she feels like she isn’t facing things alone. She’s been reminded about doctor visits, vaccinations, feeding cycles, and the best diaper creams.
BabyCenter also sends us an age-specific email for every kid, every week. This latest one says, “Your 8-year-old: Ready to plan her own party?” Well, that was wonderful, except that it also added stress to realize that my daughter is now eight. I mean, when did that happen?
All this made me realize that I’ve been missing out on a treasure trove of de-stressors because I only use my phone for emails, texts, and reading. I had to find out what else was out there. What digital tools had been created to help make my stressful moments just a bit easier? I pulled out my phone and took a new look.
I looked beyond the waste-of-time apps, and the spend-all-day-online-surfing apps, and I started discovering so much good that was available. I saw sites I’d skipped over and apps I’d disregarded. It started with an app that helps you be calm when life gets a bit overwhelming—and it’s called, simply enough: Calm. A co-worker had used the app and gave it great reviews.
And that wasn’t all. As I searched, I ended up finding a whole range of apps that could be helpful—from games that I might play when sitting at the DMV (or Pediatrician’s office)—to a YouTube channel that helped me learn how to pair my Apple TV remote (which will be helpful when the kids are crying, “Why doesn’t it work?” over and over and over…). YouTube isn’t a new app for me, but using it to help me solve every-day problems—that’s a big idea.
I found an app that helped me find my phone, my keys, and even my car. (Tile) I found an app that lets me and my family send short video messages back and forth—all across the world. (Marco Polo). I even found apps for some of my favorite foods: Chick-Fil-A, McDonalds, and Krispy Kreme Donuts. (Don’t judge. ;-) I’m not advocating fast-food or sugary treats or anything, but these were great finds! Now they send me deals and allow me to rack up points toward free happy-meals or donuts…for the kids of course. If that’s not your thing, that’s okay! I promise you there are apps out there meant just for you. None of us is alone in what we love or the things we do, and you can find apps that will help you every day!
Another great find for us was Apple Music. We use the Home-Pod, but all the devices have related services you can use. Now, right before bedtime, when the kids are a little rowdy, we say, “Hey Siri, play ‘Baby-Shark.’” The music starts, and the kids dance around the room—and we go from rowdy to happy-rowdy in just seconds. Beyond the kids, my wife and I have found our own use for the device as well. When we get a few minutes alone we ask Siri to “Play the ‘80’s.” And as the music plays, we compete to see who can guess the artist and name of the song. It’s simple, easy, and we’ve had hours of laughs and memories. We laugh at the songs we know and the stories from our lives that go with them. That simple game has brought us a lot of joy.
Oh, and one more thing. We also found an answer to another major stressor: all the papers the kids bring home! (You know what I’m talking about—the report cards, the maps of medieval Japan, the Valentine’s day hearts, the Easter-themed “I love you” cards, and everything in between.) The answer is Keepy. It’s a simple but powerful app that lets us scan and store our kid’s keepsakes digitally and privately. It’s been a life-saver. We were always torn between trying to organize and store everything in files, or feeling horrible when we threw them out because there just isn’t enough space. But now we can keep it and throw it away. Yeah! And the app even lets the grandparents get into it. They record little videos of themselves praising our kids for great report cards or wonderful art projects, and those little message store right alongside the original asset forever. Keepy turns our paper mess from a stressor into an opportunity to engage with our family in a truly meaningful way. What a great idea!
Technology is all around us, and it can be stressful. But if you look, there are apps and websites designed to help us, to de-stress us, and to connect us more with those we love.
So, good luck. Take out your phone (and other devices) and start to see them as an occasion to help untangle your most stressful days. And when you find something that helps—share it with me. It might be just what I’ve been looking for as well.