By Donna Schill Cl... on Fri, 02/01/2013
Our iPhones often remind us of our obligations: upcoming meetings, dentist appointments, and credit card bills to pay. While helpful, wouldn’t it be nice if it also reminded us to take some time to enjoy and feel good?
The Huffington Post’s new iPhone app GPS for the Soul, conceived of by Arianna Huffington, is designed to help users find a “centered place of wisdom, harmony, and balance.” Huffington describes the app as a way to use technology to find peace within, a divergence from the stress she says hyper-connectivity tends to cause.
The app assesses users' stress level and provides methods to achieve the much sought-after, happy state of mind. It is one piece of the site’s push toward health coverage promoting “Less Stress, More Living.”
The app’s sensor was the first feature that caught my attention, which converts your heart rate into a stress assessment by pressing your finger to the iPhone camera lens. The Huffington Post partnered with bLife and Heart Math to develop the sensor, based on research supporting heart rate as a major indicator of stress. The app rates your stress level from red (stressed,) to green (calm,) and offers a variety of guides to help restore serenity.
Yesterday, my soul appeared to be stressed after running about 15 minutes late all morning. I flipped through several yoga, nature and meditation exercises and settled on a forest guide. While on my “walk in the woods,” I discovered my favorite feature, the breathing pacer. A transparent white wave lifted and fell over the slow-fade nature shots, offering an intuitive tool to help lengthen and deepen my breathing.
Another cool feature of GPS for the Soul is the capability to create your own guides. I watched one of Arianna Huffington’s custom-made guides, featuring photos from her childhood, her favorite music, pictures of her daughter, and quotes from Rumi.
Overall, I found the app to be very user-friendly and fun. The interface is similar to social media apps like Facebook and Twitter, with a profile page, a menu icon in the upper left-hand corner available from any page, and an ability to connect with friends. I’ve invited my sisters to join the guide, and think it would be fun to build a guide for them filled with pictures from our childhood and inside jokes.
While the sensor drew my interest, I’ll have to use it more before I’m convinced it can gauge my stress level.
While GPS for the Soul won’t replace a yoga class or walk in the woods, it is a great addition to my routine to help reset throughout the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the effect a few moments of deep breathing had in restoring my sense of collectedness and well-being.