Self-Help in a Digital Age: Using Technology to Improve Your Health

Whether it’s tracking your mood or you’re drinking, a new crop of websites has the tools you need to take charge of your health. Below is a list, albeit a very limited one, of several tracking websites and applications that are designed to help you learn more about yourself and improve your health one characteristic at a time. Just remember that in this age of increased self awareness, it is what we do with the data that ultimately is going to have the biggest impact.

Mood and Emotional Health

When it comes to dealing with a mood disorder or any chronic illness, one of the best things you can do is keep a detailed account of your symptoms. Because symptoms of chronic disorders such as depression, anxiety, can become part of your daily experience, it is often hard to tell if things are getting better. Even if you are not experiencing a specific illness, tracking your mood can have health and relationship benefits just the same. A recent article on PsycCentral.com suggests that families spend a week tracking their mood to identify areas of stress in their schedule and factors such as lack of sleep or too many activities in one day that impact not only each individual’s mood but the overall atmosphere in the home. Websites doe exist specifically for tracking your mood and range from simple happy and sad faces to more complex check lists and many include space for your own notes. Some to check out include:

MyMoodMonitor is not a traditional style tracking website; rather than tracking daily this is more of an assessment tool. With clinical studies to back up its validity, this site offers users an opportunity to assess their mood and determine the likelihood that they may be suffering from a mood disorder such as depression, anxiety, or even PTSD. You can easily email the results to yourself or your doctor for follow up and since its free you can check in as often as you like and compare results to see if medication or lifestyle changes are having an impact on your overall functioning.

Moodscope offers the ability to engage family and friends in the mood monitoring process. A free service, you monitor your mood by playing a mini-card game and then can opt to have the results emailed to a select group of people. The inclusion of a social component makes this site different than some of the others mentioned here and possibly a good choice for those going through a difficult time when having a simple way to ask for help can be especially useful. With the 75hard modern technology, a self-confidence and self-esteem of people will build-up. The choice of the customers to come out from mental problem is excellent. The maintaining of the relationships and healthy marriage is great to meet with the requirements with in a budget. 

OptimismOnline offers users a vast array of symptom, self-care, and triggers to track and record daily. This robust application may be ideal for those with a diagnosed mood disorder such as depression or bipolar that need an effective way to monitor their progress (especially when changing or starting medication) and identify ways to stay healthy. With a lengthy list of options and a monthly subscription fee, it may be more than someone new to health tracking is ready for about but its check mark system and the ability to sync with your mobile phone (included with the monthly fee) may ease the transition into monitoring your mood more closely.

Alcohol

For many people the concept of tracking your life is directly related to dieting and with good reason. Tracking our intake can not only help change habits but also give some insight into what habits we have formed. Borrowing from the world of nutrition, many new sites are offering a way to track your intake that goes beyond fat and calories. With new guidelines from NIAA and changing laws regarding drinking and driving, many people are wondering just how much alcohol are they really consuming. These tools allow users to track their alcohol intake in amazing accuracy. Much like food, there is often a vast discrepancy between what is considered a serving and what is typically served. While the bartender may only charge you for one, that 32 ounce glass of beer is hardly one serving. These tools not only account for the amount but also the strength of the alcoholic beverages you enter, allowing you to take a long hard look at your alcohol intake and its impact on your health and relationships.

MyDrinkingDiary may appear less attractive than some other applications but its dropdown menus, color coded tags, and automatic categorization of your drinking patterns give you an easy to use snapshot of your alcohol use. And with nothing to download and a nearly anonymous sign-up process, it may also be the easiest tracker to start with.

The NHS in England offers an iPhone app and a desktop tool (for Windows and Macs) which allows you to track your alcohol intake. Although based in the UK, these applications can be useful for users in the U.S. and Canada. And with so many people using the iPhone, the portability of the app means you can track your martinis right at the bar.

PerfectDietTracker is actually a diet and nutrition application but has a function that will allow you to include alcohol as part of your tracking process. Not only can you see how much you are consuming but it is a nice way to see how alcohol may be influencing your weight loss or nutritional goals.

General Tracking

While tracking specific things like mood and alcohol can be very important, for many people there are other areas of health that they need help with. Whether you are a diabetic that needs to track their sugar intake or suffer from a chronic illness such as arthritis or fibromyalgia and could benefit from tracking triggers such as sleep and exercise, these tools allow you to customize the things your track to meet your own goals.

Joes Goals offers a calendar style tracking system that you can customize to whatever you want to know about yourself. Simple to use and offering a journal feature to allow you to keep track of your thoughts, feeling, or specific notes about an activity, this is an all purpose habit tracker that may fit easily into your lifestyle.

MedHelp is a health forum that offers trackers for everything from ovulation to addiction recovery to sleep patterns. If you can think of a medical condition that might benefit from tracking, they probably have an application for it already. The combination of tracking and online social community is appealing to many and they offer articles related to many of the health issues they track.

The Quantified Self is more of a blog about tracking than a tracking tool itself. They review and discuss tracking tools, both online and gadgets, for everything from being more environmentally friendly to improving your fitness routine. If you are interested in tracking your life this may be a good place to start to learn more about the pros and cons of this new wave of self information.