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Self-Care is as Easy as Downloading an App

Image of . The DHA Connected Health Branch provides several tools that promote mental well-being and help develop self-care habits.

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Life may have an abundance of distractions for everyone. Add the unique situations that those in the military or medical field face and it can be overwhelming.

The phrase "self-care" – the act of taking time for oneself to do something they find enjoyable – has been introduced to the world, and people are starting to prioritize taking a moment for themselves to recharge.

"Every person, no matter what their age or occupation, deals with stress in some way," said Dr. Kelly Blasko, counseling psychologist and the lead for mobile health clinical integration team at the Defense Health Agency Connected Health Branch. "But for service members, physicians, military partners, and even military kids, to be alert and functioning to their highest ability, taking time to recharge is critical. Developing healthy mental health habits, like prioritizing self-care, should be as important as making sure you are getting enough rest and activity in your day."

The DHA Connected Health Branch provides several tools that promote mental well-being and help develop self-care habits.

Military Meditation Coach

There are 20 new episodes of the DHA's Military Meditation Coach podcast set to be released this year. Individuals can take a moment to recharge by listening to these episodes that will guide THEM through a relaxing meditation and breathing exercise. While this podcast was made for service members, all can benefit from this podcast.

One listener said, "I love how this series includes a huge variety of meditations and other exercises … just what I needed!" While another listener said, as a chaplain in the Air Force, he recommends the podcast to those he counsels.

Breathe2Relax

For those stressful situations that just keep building over the day, individuals should remember to take a second to breathe. The Breathe2Relax mobile app provides breathing exercises that are documented to decrease the body's fight-or-flight stress response and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. For users who have a smartwatch, the app can link to the wrist device and track the heart rate when going through the breathing exercises.

One app user said, "I use this with elementary age kids to teach them a technique for dealing with stress and anxiety. They love it and it works fantastically in reducing their stress level."

Another user said, "My assigned [post-traumatic stress disorder] psychologist, at the [Department of Veteran Affairs], recommended me this app. I was very skeptical at first but wow. This app improved my quality of life just with simple breathing techniques. Just follow on screen guidance and audio directions. The app talks to you in a calming tone and takes you step by step through each breath."

While the app is a great tool for self-care and stress management, users have used it help manage conditions like night terrors, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, blood pressure, and congestive heart failure.

Positive Activity Jackpot

For those looking for more of an active self-care routine, the Positive Activity Jackpot app may be the best tool. This mobile app helps users find nearby enjoyable activities, and will provide activity suggestions. If the user cannot decide on which fun thing to do, they can "pull the lever" and let the app's jackpot function make the choice for them. Self-care, doesn't just mean doing activities alone, the app will also suggest inviting other people to participate in the fun.

These tools were developed for the modern digital world. The apps are available for both iOS and Android mobile devices and at mobile.health.mil, and the Military Meditation Coach podcast.

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