Owaves App: Pocket Prioritizer

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On many college students’ phones, there are countless apps to track steps, screen time, food, meditation, workouts, sleep and so much more. There are apps to show pictures of others, thoughts of others and lives of others.

Owaves is a wellness app that allows the user to make a calendar and schedule out times for different activities. The app connects to the Calendar on iPhones as well as other exercise accessories like Apple Watch and Fitbit watches. Scheduling out times for things like exercise, love/connection, nutrition, sleep and relaxation is essential to a healthy lifestyle, according to Dr. Royan Kamyar, CEO and founder of Owaves.

“It’s hard to argue that love and social connection aren’t good for you, or exercise or nutrition,” Kamyar says. “But the part that’s new and interesting [to Owaves]… is time. Basically what that means is our circadian rhythms, or when we do these things, matters — like when we eat, when we exercise, and when we sleep.”

Owaves is aimed to help people, college students, in particular, organize their schedules to live more holistically and healthily. In order to do that, the app provides options to create time for not only exercise and eating, but things like love, work, sleep, rest, play and flow. Together these things can help a student’s physical and mental health according to Kamyar.

Kamyar uses a form of cognitive behavioral therapy in his app called behavioral activation therapy (BAT) and he says that his app is essentially a digital form of BAT. BAT is the idea that having healthy items on their calendars like yoga or meditation actually makes the user positively anticipate those events and more likely to complete them.  

“BAT has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression with or without medication,” Kamyar says. “And it’s also being used with certain addiction disorders and a lot of other mental health conditions as well.” BAT is usually performed with a live therapist, which is why Owaves is currently working with coaches in their beta trial, including two Olympians, three physicians, a yoga instructor and a registered dietitian, and will be including them in the app soon.

Since the Owaves wellness calendar links to the Calendar app, there are notifications that come through the phone to remind the user to get to bed or to get some work done or to get some food in their bodies. But with a bombardment of notifications from all of the other apps on a person’s phone, it can be overwhelming.

“I think choosing one item and mastering that item and then taking on another task of that app is good,” says PLNU assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics registered dietitian nutritionist, Brittany Johnson. “I think if you try to do all of the pieces at once, it can become very overwhelming and you feel like a failure because you’ve taken on too much.”

For a lot of college students, not eating enough throughout the day is a huge problem that is either a cause of forgetting to eat or to try and look like the models or influencers that the students follow on social media.

And a healthy diet with the right nutrition is linked to better physical health and there are new studies coming out of how it is linked with mental health as well. Yet there are unhealthy mental repercussions that come with the constant feeling of not being good enough or getting depressed whenever we fall short of our fitness and diet goals according to Johnson.

“I think that the way we feel about our body image gets manifested into our food choices,” Johnson says. “So I think there is a back and forth way of how our nutrition affects our mental, but our mental also impacts our nutrition choices.”

For Nicole Banke, senior math major at PLNU, this app will just add stress to the already busy schedules she sets out for herself. As a person who loves handwriting out her schedule and her To-Do lists, she doesn’t think that the app will be much help to her.

“Right now in my life, I’m trying to figure out how to receive the day for what it has for me instead of forcing it,” Banke says.

But she also is adamant about saying how this app can really help someone who isn’t as organized and needs those reminders throughout the day to do all of the healthy things this app provides. They are all beneficial things so many students may need the extra push to complete these tasks and live a healthier life she says.

“There are some people who can really benefit from this,” Banke says. “There are people who need to set aside time to be productive.”

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