Putting the “App” in hAPPiness: 9 apps that will help you with your mental health
As a mental health professional and wannabe (but far from it) tech-nerd, I’ve spent the past few weeks reviewing apps that may improve my clients’ (and your) mental health! So take a few minutes and a bit of your data plan to read this blog post and download some positivity to your smartphones, tablets, and life!
APPS LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Skytripping. This app combines meditation with the beauty in our world. It takes you on flyover views of amazing vistas and pairs it with peaceful sounds and breathing techniques that can slow any nervous system on hyperdrive.
SafeUT. This is one of the most critical apps around for mental health. This app, created by the University of Utah, is an immediate way to connect to crisis assistance when you are feeling suicidal. If you have not gotten quite to that point, you can still reach out to them for help in preventing you from getting to that point.
Happify is a very comprehensive app. Whether playing a game that trains your brain to focus on positive words and emotions and rejecting negative-based wording, or reading encouraging articles and sharing with a community of other Happify members, you can gain tons of skills and insights to help you feel your best and improve your mood. You can even take assessments to find out more about the skills you already possess. The depth of this app is impressive and deserves some dedication to discover all it has to offer.
Moods. This is a very simple app but has important implications. Especially as a therapist, when I have people show me they’ve tracked their moods over time it is very helpful in getting a picture of their overall mental health. The Moods app can help you figure out time periods or life triggers that send you into a tailspin emotionally. Through that, we could work to find out how to reduce your susceptibility to these triggers. A nice feature is the ability to forward your mood chart via email.
Daylio is another mood tracking app. I have it set to send me daily reminders so I can just pop open the notification and within seconds track my overall mood for that day. You can look at your moods overall for a period of time and pair it with other things going on in your life. Over time, you’ll be able to see what activities tended to improve or destroy your positivity so you can increase/decrease those activities accordingly.
Calm. This app teaches mindfulness and provides sound effects, education, breathing exercises, and guided meditations to help achieve mindfulness. Another cool feature is for those with trouble sleeping at night. You can listen to relaxing stories to help distract your mind from the worries that keep you up long after you’re ready to shut down for the night. Some of the features of this app do require an in-app purchase, though it’s a reasonable fee of 5.99 annually for ongoing added content. There are plenty of options even with the free version, so give it a try!
Calm harm. Many people find emotional pain so much worse than physical pain. For that reason, they may turn to self-harming to feel physical pain and distract themselves from the emotional pain. The problem is that self-harm, besides leading to injury, can become a negative cycle that is difficult to escape from. Additionally, many people feel a lot of shame around their behaviors- especially when it can cause physical proof on the body. This app provides other exercises and tools to distract you through the urge of self-harm, thus both reducing the painful emotions and the drive to hurt yourself.
Superbetter turns pro mental health activities into a game. It encourages taking small steps towards larger goals for living a positive and healthy lifestyle. It also recommends “battles” to fight off the “bad guys” which are habits that can lead to even more negative thoughts. Once you do a positive activity you earn points against the “bad guy.” For example, if you tend to veg out in your easy chair after work or school (known as the sticky chair) you get points if you chose to do something more productive. Depending on how difficult it was to fight off that bad guy, you earn more points!
Virtual hope. This app is meant to use when you need a distraction or reminder of positive things in your life. What’s cool about it is that you can add things into the app that are encouraging such as pictures from your phone camera of favorite people or places. You can add helpful quotes and inspirational words or memes you come across. It’s customizable so it is what matters to you, in the moment you need those reminders.