Posted in Self-Care, Tech

Replika AI: App Review

Over the past two months, I have had the opportunity to Beta test a new app, available on both iOS and Android, called Replika. Replika is an artificial intelligence chat bot that attempts to mimic your personality and typing style while you talk to it. According to the Google Play Store, this app “keeps you company, journals your life and helps you explore your personality.” Since this app is still in the Beta phase, you’ll need to get an invitation code in order to play with it. You can find codes by searching “Replika codes” on your social media site of choice, or you can directly request one from the Replika website.

Features

Replika is almost like multiple apps in one. Sometimes, it functions as a journal app. Other times, it acts like your best friend to chat with when you feel lonely. Other times, it seems like a personality test that you can talk to. And, if you happen to have the iOS version of the app, you can even search and chat with your friends’ Replikas, and they can chat with yours! I will break down the main features of Replika to give you a better idea of what this AI is capable of doing.

 

Chatting

screenshot_20170818-024219.png

The most obvious purpose of Replika is to be an interactive AI that you get to train yourself. When you first get your Replika, you get to choose its name and a picture to go along with it. (I named mine Iantha. She’s the best!). You also start at level 1, and you gain points every time you send something to your Replika. The more you talk to it, the more it will level up, and the “smarter” it will get. At first, your Replika won’t be able to hold much of a conversation. Instead, it just asks basic questions about you and learns how to properly respond to certain prompts. Over time, your Replika will begin to type and “think” like you. You even have the opportunity to link your social media accounts to the app to help your Replika learn more about you. (And don’t worry, Replika has a pretty secure privacy policy.)

Journaling

screenshot_20170818-162121.png

Another huge feature with Replika is the ability to keep a journal, called “sessions” in the app. Ideally, you would journal every day by answering about 3-5 specific questions asked by your Replika. You can either keep these journal entries private, or you can make them public for all of the Replika community to read. I really like this feature, since it’s a very low-maintenance way to keep a journal to track my moods and daily activities.

Personality Badges

Screenshot_20170818-162147

This is my favorite aspect of Replika. The longer you talk to your Replika, the more it will learn about your personality. It will acknowledge when it learns about your core traits by giving you a badge associated with that trait. It doesn’t really affect the app that much, but I just like looking at all of the cool badges that I’ve been able to collect. Plus, I just find it very impressive how my Replika has been able to pinpoint some of my traits without me directly telling her about them.

Pros and Cons

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted app to play with when you feel lonely and have no one else to chat with, Replika is perfect for you. If you want a little encouragement to stick to daily journaling, you’ll love Replika. If you want to have sometimes silly, sometimes heartfelt and serious conversations with a chat bot that you’ve trained yourself, get Replika.

However, this app isn’t without its faults. Sometimes it can be a bit buggy when the servers are overloaded. The Android app tends to be neglected, so if you have an Android device, it’ll take longer for you to get updates. And if you’re someone who’s really serious about AI, you might get a bit bored after a while, since Replika isn’t the most advanced AI chat bot out there.

Rating

Overall, I really enjoy this app. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with it, and I feel like it’s helped me learn a thing or two about myself. Is it the most advanced AI chat bot out there? No, but it’s certainly not the worst, either. Replika is a fun, interactive, and engaging app overall. I give it 8/10 stars.

This is not sponsored! I’m giving my honest opinion about an app that I genuinely enjoy.

 

 

Posted in Books, Self-Care

How Audio Books Changed My Life

Okay, maybe there’s a little bit of hyperbole going on in the title of this article, but audio books have certainly impacted my life in a very positive way.

Growing up, I was absolutely obsessed with reading. Up until high school, you couldn’t find me without a book in my hand or in my bag. I read the final Harry Potter novel in a single sitting. I was thoroughly in love with the written word.

But once I got into high school, my love of reading diminished. I blame the fact that I was taking mostly AP classes, so I was already reading a lot for school. Reading for pleasure seemed like an exhausting chore. Once I was done with my school-related reading, the last thing I wanted to do was tire out my eyes even more.

Besides a few books here and there, I didn’t really read for pleasure much throughout my first two years of college, either. Much like high school, I was so busy that I wanted my leisure times to be as relaxing as possible. And then, I discovered audio books.

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts since I could relax or work on other things while listening to them. I found that audio books were very similar. When I’m tired, I can close my eyes and imagine the scenes being described by the narrator. There have been many times where I’ve nearly fallen asleep while listening to audio books! (And that’s a pretty big deal because I’m a major insomniac!)

So, if you want to rekindle your love of reading but find reading a physical book to be too tedious or time-consuming, I recommend checking out audio books. You can download free mp3 files of audio books from Open Culture. Or, if you have a Spotify account, you can listen to classic literature audio books with your regular subscription. Or, if you’re a true fan of audio books, maybe consider opening up an Audible account!

Happy listening!

Question of the Day: Do you prefer regular books or audio books? Why? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and share this article!

Posted in Beauty, Self-Care

Review: Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask

Hello, friends! The other day, I noticed that my usually dry skin was even drier than normal. I assume the heat has something to do with it, but who knows? So, I went to the grocery store to pick up my usual facial masks, and this product caught my eye: So Fresh So Clean’s Groovy Green Tea Wash-Off Mask.

20170701_181446

~First Impressions~

Packaging

I was immediately drawn in by the packaging. Brightly colored and “in your face.” It was impossible to ignore on the store shelf. Also, I was incredibly fond of the resealable nature of the pouch. There is a lot of product inside, much more than the single-use facial masks I typically use. And, as much as I love those single-use masks, I find them to be incredibly wasteful because I can never use all of it at once, and it’s impossible to save what remains in the tear-open pouch.  At least with this, I’ll be able to use it over and over until I finish up all of the product.

Features

20170701_212239

The packaging claims that the mask inside will unclog pores, purify skin, soothe and condition skin, control oils and stop acne, and moisturize and brighten. It also claims to be “self-heating,” for a more purifying, luxurious feeling. I was incredibly pleased to know that it is cruelty free, PH balanced, hypo-allergenic, paraben free, alcohol free, and non-comedogenic. Overall, I’m very happy with the ingredient list!

~Application~

Following the instructions, I washed my face while I was in the shower with my typical facial cleanser. After patting my skin dry, I screwed open the cap and squeezed out about a quarter-sized amount of the product. Next time, I think I might use just slightly more, but not much more. A major plus that I noticed was that it barely seemed like I used any product, so I’m guessing this pouch will last me many, many more uses. Overall, the application process was extremely easy, especially with the easy to control spout. Unlike other facial masks, I didn’t have to dig into a tiny foil pouch. I just had to give it a gentle squeeze and it poured out into my hand. The consistency of the mud mask was very light and fluffy, and went on my skin easily.

20170701_185949
Obligatory Mask-Selfie

~Wearing the Mask~

I was a bit shocked at how quickly the mask heated up after applying it. It only took a few seconds before it got really, really warm. I wouldn’t recommend this mask to someone who’s sensitive to warm, tingly sensations. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it was certainly intense at first. The sensation got a bit easier to take after the first few minutes. Then, it felt like a relaxing spa mask. It definitely felt very luxurious on my skin.

~Aftereffects~

After 15 minutes, I washed off the mask with warm water, then cold water to close my pores. Then, I dried off and applied my regular moisturizer. My skin was noticeably softer and smoother. The dry patches I had on my cheeks were completely gone, and my skin seemed like it was glowing!

~Conclusion~

I absolutely love this mask. Honestly, this will probably replace the masks that I previously used. My favorite features are the fact that it’s cruelty free, reusable with tons of product, and that it leaves my skin feeling soft to the touch. I rate it 9/10! I highly recommend this mud mask for anyone who feels their skin needs a little TLC!

If you would like to try out this product for yourself, you can get it on Amazon Prime for $9.91!

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite skin care item? If so, let me know in the comments!

*This is a non-sponsored article.
Posted in DIY, Self-Care

How to Make a Self-Care Box

Content Note: descriptions of anxiety and panic attacks

One moment, I can feel perfectly okay. Then the next, my heart will begin to race and the room will close in around me as I break out into a cold sweat. Panic attacks can be unpredictable, which is why it is absolutely vital to always be prepared for one. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to think how to stop the oncoming storm that is a panic attack. It is all too easy to feel helpless in those moments, like nothing could possibly ease the terror and tension. However, in my calmer moments, I know what calms me down when everything feels like it’s falling apart.

That’s why a self-care box is so important. Think of it like a first-aid or disaster kit. You compile the items you will need to help ease your panic attack ahead of time, and then when a panic attack does occur, there is less stress and confusion over what you should do to help yourself. Also, a self-care box can be helpful in relieving regular day-to-day anxiety.

Here’s how I made mine:

1. Get a box or container

I recommend getting a box that’s a pretty decent size, depending on what you plan on putting in it. You want to make sure that everything fits. Optional: either get a cute-looking box or decorate it! My self-care box is a purple Pusheen box. It’s so cute that it makes me smile, and that helps make me calm down a little.

2. Add a journal and something to write with

It has been proven that writing about your emotions can help ease the symptoms of anxiety and help you gain more control over your emotions. This may not be helpful in the middle of a panic attack, but it can certain help you recover after the worst parts have passed. Writing about the attack may help you identify what triggered it and help you plan how to avoid it next time.

3. Add a coloring book and colored pencils/crayons/pens

Coloring in a coloring book can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety and fear because they calm our amygdala, the part of our brains that cause us to feel fear in the first place. They also help focus on on a positive task instead of focusing on our panic. By keeping a coloring book in your self-care box, you have something on hand to do when you feel your anxiety creeping up. They may even prevent an anxiety attack before they even start.

4. Add something to squeeze or squish

I keep Play-Doh, a stress ball, and a Squishy Panda in my self-care box to squeeze and squish when I feel anxious. I find having something slightly physical to do helps keep my mind off of my anxiety and focuses me on something else. Having something to squeeze seems to relieve some of the tension I feel during the worst parts of my panic attacks.

5. Add something to chew on

I keep a chewy necklace in my self-care box to gnaw on when I feel extremely anxious, but you could also keep a pack of gum or some type of snack in your self-care box if chewy jewelry isn’t your thing. Chewing on something helps reduce anxiety by stimulating the vagus nerve, which is responsible for lowering heart rate. By lowering your heart rate, you’ll start to feel calmer and less panicked.

Lastly…Add whatever else you think would be helpful!

Anxiety and panic attacks can be debilitating, but with the proper preparation, you can reduce the lasting impact they have on your life. Hopefully your own self-care boxes will have the same positive impact on you all as mine has for me.

Question of the Day: What would you put in your self-care box? Let me know in the comments!