App that beeps at you at long random intervals?
May 13, 2020 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some kind of app or reminder service I can put on my phone that will remind me at random intervals, ~45 minutes apart or so, to stop and be mindful. Can't seem to find something that matches the specifics. Snowflake details inside.

Just a bit of (probably excessive) background: I've been working with my therapist on ways to get myself to notice my emotions and needs and deal with them in a healthy way. It's a terrible habit of mine, built up from a lifetime of repeated reinforcement that They Were Bad and I Was Bad For Having Them, but at this point it's so ingrained that I often can't even figure out what they are even while having them. Or I only feel anything once they get to the point of distress that I feel physically nauseous or like I want to hurt myself or something.

Obviously this is no good, and besides being a problem in itself it's interfering with my therapy -- I have a number of ongoing issues I need to sort through and decisions I need to make, but when I try I either can't introspect into them or I go too far and spend the next few days puking, not sleeping, feeling suicidal, etc.

We've been going through exercises that I'm meant to be practicing that will help me feel grounded and try to access my emotions in a sensory sort of way. I think they have potential, but the problem I'm running into is just remembering to do them. It sounds silly but it's part of the main issue: I just don't notice things and get so lost in my head that I lose track of my body and the world. At some point I'd like to build up to not needing a reminder for this, but as a first step I and my therapist think that building the habit of noticing would work best with a reminder.

So, like I said, that's probably too much explanation for a simple app, but that's all to explain why I'd like an app with the following characteristics:

1. It will beep at me at random intervals, ranging from say 30 minutes to an hour. I've found apps that do that but almost all of them seem to be for much smaller intervals, like around a minute, and are for training reaction time. Would be nice if it could be a nicer sound than a beep, but that's not vital.

2. Ideally when it beeps it will also select a random meditation exercise from a list of like 10 that I've pre-filled. (So, basically, it would just have the capacity to display a random bit of text from a list I've previously given it). Because that's the other thing, I don't have the wherewithal to figure out what to do when it beeps, it's already hard enough to get myself to focus on it, I want to make this as easy as possible for myself. And I don't want to always do the same exercise because part of the point of this is to see which sort of exercise works best. A lot of meditation exercises are really bad for me (long story, dysphoria-induced dissociation basically) so I don't want meditation apps or many of the standard exercises. I've tried them before and they are too much for me. My therapist agrees and has given me this list of exercises he specifically chose for me that he thinks will not be so traumatising. So it has to be very personalisable in this way -- and doesn't even need to be meditation-focused, just will display my text at random intervals is fine.

3. Ideally ideally, I could also set it to not beep at certain times of the day (e.g. at night) without having to manually turn it off or something.

I'm sure there are things like this out there but my googling isn't turning anything obvious up and I don't have a lot of time or energy to spend trying different things. My recovery is not very robust right now, and I'm working a high-intensity more than full time job while parenting kids in a pandemic, and I really need something that is simple and will work without too much hassle.

Any suggestions? Especially of something you've personally tried? (And if from the explanation above you have an out-of-the-box idea that might do something similar, please suggest it; that's part of why I included all this excess detail).
posted by forza to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Someone might have better ideas, but you could always set up recurring emails to yourself. You could make a separate account that only receives the meditation emails and change the notification to be different than your normal email notification (if you have one).

I know you could make this work if you don’t mind that the meditations are in the same order every day (ex. meditation 1 at 8am, 2 at 8:45 etc). There may be a way to randomize it too but I’m not sure.
posted by sillysally at 4:51 PM on May 13

WeCroak does something similar.
The WeCroak app is inspired by a Bhutanese folk saying: to be a happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily.

Each day, we’ll send you five invitations to stop and think about death. Our invitations come at random times and at any moment, just like death. When they come, you can open the app to reveal a quote about death from a poet, philosopher, or notable thinker.
The quotes are not morbid — they're more about the fleetingness of life. I like it a lot.
posted by Brittanie at 5:30 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

If you have iOS, you could try the Due App.

I use it to set up recurring reminders. I have an alert that goes off at 9:30 AM to "Savor Something" and then the app reminds me repeatedly until I mark it Complete. The intervals can be every 5, 10, 15, or 60 min. When the reminder pops up I can also choose to snooze it for as long as I want. I usually forget I snoozed it for 3 hrs, so when it pops up later I'm like "Oh yeah, I should do that."

It wouldn't be totally random, but you could add the meditation exercises as reminders. Every 5 days remind me of Exercise #1. Every other Wednesday remind me to try Exercise #2 and so on. Reminders can repeat daily, every weekday, weekends only, every 1, 2, 3, etc. days, a particular day of the month, and more.

You could also assign a different sound for each meditation reminder.
posted by systematize at 6:04 PM on May 13

You could probably hack something like this using your alarm clock and/or calendar apps. It wouldn’t be truly random, but true randomness doesn’t seem to be a necessity. Just save a bunch of different alarms for random times like 6:42, 8:18, 9:21, etc., and then repeat them on pseudorandom days. So like, your 6:42 alarm would be set for Mondays and Thursdays, your 8:18 would be set for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and your 9:21 would be set for Thursdays and Saturdays. You could use your calendar to set other, less regular recurrence.

The downside would be that you’d know when the alarms were set for, but if you do it well, I think that would be minimized. You’d set so many alarms and appointments that you’d lose track.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:00 PM on May 13

If you have an Android phone, Randomly RemindMe does exactly what you are looking for, including showing you random texts from a predefined list.
posted by yeahlikethat at 7:05 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I use AlarmRoller for a similar project. It will go off at different random times of day, you can skip certain times of day (like night time) and you can choose whatever sound you like. I use a gong sound.

It won't quite do what you want as far as displaying text etc but it will go to a web page of your choosing when the reminder goes off. So if you can program a web page to provide the text you want, it could work that way. Or if you have say 7 different web pages with the instructions/reading you'd like, you could set up 7 different alarms, each to go off once a day, and each would take you to one of these different web pages.
posted by flug at 10:28 PM on May 13

If you have iOS you could set up a Siri shortcut that can do most of this. Here's what I'm thinking:
- you run the shortcut to set the alarms first thing in the morning.
- that sets a given or random number of alarms for random times of day. The name of each alarm could be a random mediation (though there might be a character limit.)
posted by bleep at 10:58 PM on May 13

I was recently looking for something similar (to remind me randomly to practice deep breathing), and the best option I've found so far is the "Yapp: gentle, random reminders" app. It's got a nice simple interface. You can select how many times you want to be reminded, and you can set the time you want the app to be active (so you could set it to only remind you between 9 am and 9 pm for example). It allows you to add in text for the reminder. Although I haven't tried this yet, it looks like it allows you to have more than one reminder, so you could set a reminder with different text for your different exercises.

This is the closest I've found so far to what I want, but it sounds like it might work for you as well.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:12 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Actually, for "Yapp" it looks like you only need to set one reminder (which can go off multiple times a day), but then you can have multiple messages for that reminder, and it will choose one randomly when each reminder goes off. So that seems like it should work if you want to add in your mindfulness exercises each as individual text entries.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:52 AM on May 14

I also used Randomly RemindMe. I used it to help me notice how I was feeling at random times throughout the day as I was getting used to a new diet. It helped!
posted by Gray Duck at 10:29 AM on May 14

I use Lotus Bud for a random mindfulness bell. You can create your own custom messages that appear in push notifications at each bell. It can be set to turn off at night.
posted by RedEmma at 11:15 AM on May 14

Thanks everyone. I've marked as "Best Answers" the ones that seem closest to what I'm looking for, but I like all of these suggestions -- things to try if any of those don't work out. I appreciate you taking the time to help.
posted by forza at 2:32 PM on May 14

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