A compendium of Recomendo




Meditation app bundles

I’m a meditation-app junkie and have spent many dollars and downloads searching for the perfect one. I would recommend any app by Meditation Oasis. I use iSleep Easy (there is a free version) at night, which lets me create playlists of guided meditations and pair it up with either a background instrumental or nature sounds, with separate volume controls for each. My emergency go-to for quick and re-energizing naps is the 13-minute Deep Rest meditation, available on the Relax and Rest app. I usually start to doze off at around minute 10, but I come to feeling as if I had taken a super long nap, and without that awful groggy feeling. Individual apps range from $1.99-$5.99, but you can purchase bundles, which I suggest, because once you try one you’ll definitely want the others. — CD

Walking meditation

I find that walking a labyrinth is a much simpler way for me to meditate than sitting. I stand at the entrance and contemplate my issue or question, then after some deep breathing and when I feel ready, I enter. As I walk through the winding path toward the middle, I imagine myself shedding all fears and doubts, so that when I arrive at the center I physically feel lighter and open for clarity. — CD 

Yoga studio in your phone

Yoga Studio by Gaiam are like mini-yoga classes in your pocket. You can choose from 65 videos, varying in duration of 15-60 minutes. I’m still in beginner mode and the 15-minute videos go by so fast! The app is available on Android and iPhone for $3.99. — CD

60-second worry soother

Pixel Thoughts is a simple website that just wants to help. Type whatever you’re stressed about into the star and watch it fade away into the universe, while relaxing music is played and you’re reminded that everything will be okay. Works better on desktop, but there is an app. — CD

Motivational data

I found Who Old Are You very inspiring. An interactive chart that compares your current age to the ages of famous artists, leaders and scientists at the time of their greatest accomplishments or important life moments. Reminds me it’s never too late to create. — CD

Menu reader

This $8 magnifier is the size of a credit card, and as thick as a stack of six quarters. The lens is 1.75" square and there’s a smaller round lens in the corner. A button on the side turns on a bright LED. I’ve taken to carrying it in my pocket. It comes in especially handy for reading menus in dark restaurants. — MF

Countdown to your death

I hacked up a death countdown clock to show me how many days I have left to live. I went to the actuarial tables for life expectancy to determine how old a typical person my age will live to, and then input that date into the Date Countdown website. It shows me that I have an estimated 6,300 days to live. Each day that small sum really focuses me. (BTW, your longevity increases over time because of science, so every few years you need to adjust your due date.) — KK

Weighted blanket alternative

If you’ve ever had a panic attack or prone to anxiety, a weighted blanket can be helpful but pretty pricey. A free alternative if you’re ever in need is to take a shower with a towel wrapped around you. The towel will be made heavy by the water and the calming effect is that it feels like a warm hug. — CD 


Best handheld heated massage

We bought this heated Shiatsu Massager more than a year ago, and it has definitely been put to good use. We keep it plugged in right next to the couch and use it every night. The arm handles allows you to adjust and place the massage nodes directly on hard to reach muscles. — CD

Favorite period tracker

The simplicity of Period Tracker (iOSAndroid) makes it an ideal app for logging and tracking my menstrual cycle. I appreciate the minimalist monthly calendar view and ability to add journal entries to each day. — CD

Morning meditation

I try to set aside time to meditate every day. The easiest and quickest way for me is to play this meditation ($0.99, iTunes) in the morning while I shower. It’s a gratitude meditation that helps me focus, remember what’s important and gets me excited for the day. The narrator’s accent makes it very soothing to listen to and the 9-minute length helps me keep my showers short. Here is a free version on Youtube. — CD 

Get birth control without insurance

I was recently in between health insurance providers and couldn’t get in to see the doctor before my birth control pills ran out. l signed-up for Nurx (took less than 10 minutes), and within 3 days, they sent me a 3-month supply in the mail — no charge. For those without insurance, options start at $15 per month, but from now until the end of January, you can get a $45 dollar credit with their Trump-inspired promo code: Tinyhands. — CD

Easy gratitude

Gratefulness is the easiest way to practice gratitude. You don’t have to download an app or set a reminder to write in a diary. Just pick a time of day and you’ll get a text asking you what you are grateful for that day. At the end of the week, you’ll get an email of everything you text back. Reading the Public Gratitude Wall is a quick way to smile. — CD

Mini pharmacy

I travel with a mini-pharmacy in my day pack, particularly overseas. I use inexpensive pill organizers to hold common non-prescription remedies. These small plastic strips are sold as “7-day” containers for folks who need to take multiple pills per pay, but I put such a few doses of different medicines in each slot. I carry remedies for semi-emergencies like motion sickness, allergies, colds, diarrhea, pain, sleep aid, coughing, upset stomach, etc. I stick a tiny label on each compartment with the name and dosage, which is enough. I restock the few doses before each trip. Off-the-shelf medicines are not rare abroad, but language and branding differences often make it a chore to secure them. Using these light and compact containers I (and traveling companions) have access to a wide range of immediate treatments. — KK

Favorite habit tracking app

I used the Way of Life iPhone app (sorry, no Android) to make a habit of making my bed. The simple app lets you set up a list of habits you want to make or break. Once a day you touch a red X or a green checkmark to record your success or failure. It took me about two years to get to the point where I don’t think about making my bed. I just do it. It’s free if you track three or fewer activities. The full version, with unlimited activities, is $5. — MF

Inexpensive upper body workout

In 2012 I bought an $18 pull-up bar that hangs from a door frame. When I started, I wasn’t able to do a single pull-up. After a week I could do one pull-up. A couple of months later I was able to do over 10 pull-ups. I still can. — MF


Fall asleep faster

Sticking one bare foot outside of the covers definitely helps me when I wake up in the middle of the night and want to fall back asleep ASAP. Here is a video about it. — CD

Relaxing float in water

When I bought a 3-pack of floats in a sensory deprivation tank my hope was to unlock some sort of creative flow. Instead, after each session I find myself walking out deeply relaxed, with zero tension in my body and a slightly-high feeling. I’m still a fan. — CD

Back stretcher

I feel great after I stretch my back with a foam roller like this one. It loosens me up right away and using it in the morning helps me be mindful of my posture all day long. — CD

Strengthen your core

A friend recommended I download this free 5-minute plank app (iOS) to strengthen my core and I’ve been using it almost religiously. You just press the play button and the timer will alert you to change positions. The visuals are helpful and I was able to up the rest time to 10 seconds between positions. Here is a similar highly-rated app for android. — CD

Mood tracking

There are a lot of mood tracking apps out there and most are free, but I have yet to find one as easy to use and well-designed as Moodnotes ($2.99, iPhone). You can customize to the app to check in with you as many times a day as you want, and your level of participation can be as little as adjusting a smiley face from frowning to grinning, to journaling and learning about common “thinking traps” and practices to avoid them. It also provides insights/stats about your moods over time. — CD 

Hay fever relief

I’ve been taking nettles leaf capsules for over 20 years to deal with my allergies to dust and pollen. My wife and daughter use it too. Every one of my dubious friends who try it also become true believers. I buy the 100-capsule bottles of Nature’s Way and take 4-6 every few hours during allergy season. — MF

Mindful eating tip

A new habit I’ve picked up is to put my fork down between bites. Originally this was a weight-loss tip — and it has helped me eat less — but also it’s helped me relax while eating, and I enjoy my meals more. — CD

Become a mind reader

A good practice in empathy I like is copying someone’s body language to get a glimpse of what they’re feeling. Sometimes taking notice is enough, but if you mimic a person’s posture or positioning you might be able to understand them better. — CD

Block out light

Hotel rooms typically have a lot of bright LEDs in them — fire alarms, phone, TVs, clock radio, etc. — that can be annoying when you want to sleep. These “Super Sticky” black Post-it notes are an easy way to cover them up. — MF

Record sounds while you sleep

Smart Alarm is a free sleep monitoring app (iOS) stocked with relaxing ambient sounds, and a progressive alarm clock that picks the perfect time to wake you up gradually. It also listens to you while you sleep and records any sounds or movements you make. Mostly it’s just a bunch of snoring, but one time it recorded something I hummed while dreaming. — CD

Joe Rogan on Happiness

I enjoy the occasional Joe Rogan rant, because he can be very enlightening. Thankfully, his video on Happiness is short and straightforward, and surprisingly uplifting. Personally, I struggle with “[Happiness is] not having all your ducks in a row,” so this video is a good reminder.  — CD

WellnessClaudia Dawson