6 useful mental health apps
Technology has often been blamed as the villain of the contemporary world, bringing more trouble and threats than help and comfort to our once-peaceful-and-simple life.
For example, smartphones. We spend so much time in front of our screens, looking forward to getting a “like” or a reaction from our followers, to see how our friends are spending their time and how much fun they are having, as well as comparing our body, our friends, our holidays and our happiness with theirs.
The result? We feel like we will never be as good as them, have as much fun as them, be as loved as them, and so on. Yes, it is true that smartphones have been blamed for giving us a lot of trouble since they were invented, from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to panic attacks or even to making us feel depressed.
Are smartphones just bad news? Are they nothing more than a way to feel miserable about ourselves? One could say it all depends on the way you look at it…
Apps that can help
A perfect example of how technology, and more specifically smartphones, can make our already-hectic life easier are apps focused on mental health. There are apps that can help us even when we are in the middle of a panic attack episode!
Switch off your Instagram and Facebook for a while and try one of the following apps that promise to give you some calm and reconnecting-with-yourself energy.
If you have never tried mindfulness and meditation before, this app is a great place to start. A calm, gentle voice guides you through Calm’s meditation series. Learn how to clear your mind and take deep breaths, while ambient sounds play in the background. At the end of the session, you will be reminded to return back for day two.
The sleep meditation series will take you on calming journeys through the lavender fields and sleepy villages of Provence. Listen to nature’s sounds and the voices of famous narrators, such as Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey or Bob Ross. Every screen is illustrated with tranquil outdoor scenes, helping you become even more serene.
Headspace is another app that can help you make meditation a daily habit. What’s important is not whether you “do it right or not” but the fact that you are “just doing it” and taking time out each day to practice. You start with the basics: every day you have a simple meditation lesson to go through, taking 3 to 10 minutes. This is great for beginners who want to understand the important concepts of meditation.
For example, it’s not about “not-thinking” or stopping your brain from having negative thoughts, but it’s about becoming aware of the thought and letting it be “just a thought” without identifying with it. There are also a lot of meditation courses about anxiety, grief, relationships, compassion, etc (also Headspace for Kids!), which can also be downloaded and experienced offline.
The free and the paid version offer different things, but it’s totally worth exploring what is there for you and what you think can help you.
You probably know about colouring books for adults. Now imagine the digital version of this. That’s Pigment and the only thing you need to do in order to start relaxing is to download it! It has over 3.400 different designs to choose from and a vast array of painting tools and brushes to colour with. Additionally, you can also check out the work of other aspiring colouring book artists or import your photos for a customised experience.
After the seven-day trial, you’ll need to decide which paid version you will choose (weekly, monthly, yearly). It's said that if you are one of those people who find it relieving to do something with your hands when you are stressed, colouring is what you need to do to empty your mind of negative thoughts and find your calmness again.
Want to try something cool? Upon first opening this app, you are shown a map of all the users across the world who are currently meditating with Insight Timer. Immediately, you get a feeling of belonging, a sense of community, knowing that at the same time hundreds or thousands of users are meditating with you.
There is a huge directory of meditations (even in the free version), but what’s most fun is that you can customise many of the settings: the duration of the meditation, the bell sound (!), the intervals and the background noise. With the group feature, you can join other Insight Timer users who may have common goals or themes when incorporating meditation into their practice, such as “Women Meditate Worldwide”.
In a nutshell, Insight Timer offers free meditations from great teachers from all over the world and the opportunity to connect with other “stressed” minds around the globe.
Dare is an app that helps you deal with anxiety and panic attacks, not only after you have experienced one, but also during the moment of the panic attack itself. “Help! I am having a panic attack” is a 12-minute audio track that guides you through the panic attack, but is also great to listen to any time you feel you need some extra reassurance and guidance when highly anxious.
The app also offers exercises and recordings for different kinds of phobias, such as height phobia or claustrophobia.
Dare gives you a new approach to anxiety: it’s not a monster that’s chasing you. It’s just an internal tug-of-war you are having with yourself. Dare gives you the motivation to drop your old coping strategies and view anxiety from a different perspective. The reviews are more than positive and here’s one from a satisfied user: “This app really drills into the root cause and teaches you how to deal with your anxiety by yourself, without any crutches.”
Simple Habit calls itself “a daily vacation for your mind” and it’s a goal- and situation-based meditation app for busy people. It gives you the opportunity for 5, 10 or 20-minute sessions and the “On the Go” series applies all practicalities depending on your specific situation: morning, taking a break, commute, walking, at work, big event, SOS, tough day, after work, sleep, etc.
For many of us, knowing that we don’t need to spare one whole hour to meditate - 5 minutes are enough - is a big relief. Moreover, the meditation series contains topics such as Forgiveness, Cultivate Positive Emotions, Procrastination Remedy, Intimacy etc, which is one of its unique traits. The sessions are led by a variety of teachers: mindfulness coaches, former monks, yoga teachers, meditation trainers, psychologists and more.
The overall message from this app is in its name: Simplicity; meditation doesn’t need to be overwhelming and we fully support that.
Get the support you need
I hope that you will find an app that will suit your needs and your style, so you will get the support you need. Even if you go for the paid version of an app, don’t regret it; your mental health is more important than anything and you totally deserve support for this. Stay tuned because there is another article coming soon, with more useful apps for your mental health!