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So, it was to my surprise when the most valuable feature of WatchOS 10, to me, came in the form of the Mindfulness app, not topographic maps for hiking, the much better-oriented navigation gestures, or Smart Stack. (The Snoopy and Woodstock watch face does come in a close second, though.)
Particularly, I've been using the new State of Mind feature in the Mindfulness app, which surveys your daily emotions and what the causes are for those feelings.
When you open the app on the watch, you have two options: Log how you're feeling at the time or how you've felt overall that day. Then, there's a range of colorful dials that you can label your mood with, from Very Pleasant to Very Unpleasant, followed by adjectives that you'd associate with the choice.
"Identifying our feelings has been shown to help us manage difficult emotions, appreciate positive moments, and improve well-being," said Michelle Crisco, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at UCLA, during Apple's June WWDC keynote.
It's true. I've found tremendous value when self-reflecting on my day. Perhaps a traffic jam led me to push a morning meeting, causing frustration, but that was followed by a very productive afternoon and a successful lunch with a work client. The takeaway here is not the negative emotions that happened, but the positive emotions that lasted.
Self-reflecting, or meditating, is something you can very much do without an Apple Watch, but here's why I'm sold on Apple's implementation. For one, the act of answering the survey takes less than five minutes, so it's a quick and meaningful exercise. Every day at 3 p.m., the Apple Watch gives me a gentle nudge to journal my thoughts, and it's now become one of the finer things that I look forward to during the second half of my work days.
Secondly, there's a sense of privacy when filling in my daily State of Mind via the watch. I don't have to awkwardly hold my phone, lower its brightness, and let my subway neighbor know how my day went. Everything is done discretely.
And lastly, State of Mind works in tandem with the rest of the iPhone or iPad's Health app metrics, such as sleep, exercise minutes, and even time in daylight -- the latter of which is something Apple is measuring more of with iOS 17 and WatchOS 10 to reduce the likelihood of developing myopia or nearsightedness.
So, if I had a "Very Unpleasant" day, one of my actions would be to look at how much sleep I got the night before, whether or not I've been exercising enough, and how much time I've spent outdoors.
There are plenty of factors that can affect your mental health, many of which are often unnoticeable and blended with daily activities, but it's great that I can experiment with different behavioral changes and see what leaves me in a more positive state of mind.