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Put the "App" in Happy! :)

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Staying mentally active is one of the most important factors for brain health. With a smartphone, mental exercises have never been more accessible with the introduction of fun brain training apps. Whether you want to challenge your brain or slow down with a meditation session, these apps are proven to help increase cognitive function. Check out our top picks!

For meditation made easy: Headspace

Studies have shown that regular meditation can reduce stress, increase focus, ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve sleep. Started in 2010, Headspace has revolutionized the meditation space with its easy to use, guided mediation sessions that target everything from work productivity to insomnia. Aimed at meditation novices and pros alike, Headspace guides users through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. While basic meditation is free, access to Headspace’s premium content requires a monthly or annual subscription.

For improving memory: Lumosity

The #1 free brain training app, Lumosity takes cognitive training exercises and turns them into fun, easy-to-learn brain games. The app consists of more than 50 games aimed at helping users with memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed and flexibility of thinking. Once you sign up, the daily brain workout involves playing three minigames - five with the paid version of the app - each focusing on the five cognitive functions.

For all-around brain health: BrainHealth

Designed by cognitive neuroscientists and clinicians at the Center for BrainHealth® at The University of Texas at Dallas, this app helps users with improving focus and attention, boosting brain power and filtering out distractions. The app reinforces strategies taught in the SMART program, a cognitive training program that was developed at the Center for BrainHealth®.

For boosting productivity: Elevate

Like Lumosity, Elevate is a free brain-training app designed to help you stay sharp, build confidence, and boost productivity. Each of its more than 35+ games are designed to target a specific function of the brain through skills like math, writing, reading, speaking and listening. The app lets you measure your performance and compare with other users. Elevate was selected as Apple’s App of the Year in 2014.

For pushing your thinking: Peak

This Cambridge University-backed app wants to push your thinking to its peak, hence the name. Like a high-intensity workout for the brain, Peak’s programming consists of games that test your focus, memory, problem solving, mental agility and more. The app’s “Coach” helps you stay motivated while providing a visual display of your performance and improvement.

For better mental health: Happify

Of course, no app can guarantee total happiness, but Happify is here to help. Develped by leading scientists and experts in the fields of psychology, mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy, this app offers simple and effective solutions for better mental health and well-being. After asking users a series of questions, Happify crunches data and recommends a few themed “tracks,” which are then divided into different parts and activities. These 50+ core activities, which include everything from mediation to writing assignments, are based on scientific research that suggests there are five essential skills for happiness: savoring, thanking, aspiring, giving, and empathizing.

For learning a new language: Duolingo

While learning a new language can seem daunting, Duolingo makes it fun, easy and 100% free. Choose from over 32 different foreign languages and delve into bite-sized courses that feel like games. Just looking to brush up on French ahead of a trip to France? Duolingo offers courses aimed at basic language skills that will teach you to read, write, listen and speak.  Earn points for every lesson completed, track your progress and watch your fluency level rise. Numerous studies have shown that learning a new language enhances memory, increases attention span, and reduces the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

Do you have a brain health app you use but is not listed here? Feel free to comment below as we love to hear what helps our QOL fam!

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