Mindfully Scrolling: Apps For Mental Health
I’ll be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired/unmotivated to write about anything lately - just feeling quite exhausted in general, both physically and mentally. But today is January 30th, 2019, which marks the ninth year of Bell’s mental health initiative: Bell Let’s Talk; I thought it a good time to write something. (It’s way, WAY past the date now because I couldn’t finish this post in time. But I did finish the bulk of it on the 30th. But that’s besides the point.) Last year, I was a bit cynical about the initiative, but all controversial views aside, I think it’s great that the company is advocating for mental health services, and providing an opportunity for open discussion and further understanding. The point is to stir up conversation and discussion for all perspectives and opinions held, and I think that they soundly achieve their goal increasingly each year. Bell Let’s Talk is just a small stepping stone to greater things: recognition and action, so #letstalk about some small but effective things you can do for your own mental health/well-being.
Of course, Bell is one of the big companies providing cellular service/data and internet in the country; there have been many studies that say too much screen time is detrimental for one’s well-being: disruptive to sleep patterns, social media negatively influencing individuals’ self-esteem, et cetera, et cetera. When I’m in that lethargic stage, I do often find myself mindlessly checking my phone - scrolling through Facebook, checking Instagram, closing apps just to open them up again seconds later for no particular reason (like really, is there going to be any life-altering post or change within the last minute since I checked?)- because doing anything else simply feels like too much effort, and in all honesty, I just need an easy distraction for when irrational and self-deprecating, ruminating thoughts begin. Not being purposeful with my screen time is a bad habit that I’m trying to break free of; however, I cannot deny that my phone is a lifesaver when I am in distress: having my top contacts right on my home screen really helps when I need a listening ear (a reading eye???).
Recently, I’ve been trying to use my phone for my mental health/well-being, something productive to replace the mindless scrolling. Here are a few apps that I have currently downloaded/am using to try to better myself, as well as some that I have used in the past, or plan to test out in the future. Of course, these are just resources, and are not to replace any kind of therapy or treatment - as always, please seek a professional should you feel the need to.
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A minimalistic, simple app designed to track your mood in two simple steps: 1) choose how you’re feeling (awful → rad), and 2) what activities you’ve been up to. If you wish to write more, there is space for you to jot down any notes. It’s a super quick way to keep track of your mood and which activities make you feel awful/rad; it honestly takes seconds of your day to complete, but will leave you with good results in the long run.
UP! - mental health mood journal (Android)
If you’re looking for a more well-rounded, in-depth mood journal app, this one is for you! UP! helps you keep track of how certain activities (i.e. sleep, exercise, social life) affect your mood; in other words, it tracks the your overall work-life balance. The mood journal feature is ideal for those who wish to spend more time detailing their introspections, providing more insight into early warning signs and potential unhealthy habits of thought.
This intelligent mood tracker and journal helps you assess and reflect on your mental health on a daily basis, so you can better understand your thought patterns and triggers for depression and/or anxiety. The app also features some “courses”/exercises based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to guide you in your journey to self-realization and betterment.
What’s Up? utilizes a mix of CBT and Acceptance Commitment Therapy methods to help you cope with depression, anxiety, anger, stress, and more. Some features include:
Information on the above topics, and helpful websites according to your country
Simple strategies to keep calm in the moment (e.g. grounding game, breathing control, catastrophe scale)
Uplifting quotes and affirmations, with the ability to add your own
A comprehensive diary to record thoughts and feelings
Another app based on CBT, relaxation, and wellness, Pacifica offers tools to help you address and manage everyday stress and anxiety, as well as fearful thoughts. Some features include: Daily Mood Tracker, Relaxation and Mindfulness Tracks, Health Tracker, and Community Support.
One of the top health/medical apps, this AI emotional health assistant is making waves! Dive into insightful conversations and mood check-ins, while monitoring symptoms of depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and more. Practice mindfulness and gratitude, learn more about yourself, and challenge your thoughts. just a personal anecdote: I’ve tried several AI mental health apps, but for some reason none of them really stuck with me except for this one, and I’ve been using it ever since.
Bliss uses scientifically-proven techniques and exercises from positive psychology to encourage you to think happier thoughts, propelling you to a more pleasurable and positive lifestyle. Become happier, learn the secrets to success, spread joy, develop charisma, and discover meaning in your work with the help of this handy little gratitude journal, available at the tap of a button.
Sometimes, the most simple things can be the most effective. This iOS app gives users daily prompts to for reflection and to practice gratitude: “What made me smile today?”, “What keeps me going?” For a small price, you also have the options of creating your own questions and adding photos for a more customized experience. The free version only allows for 15 entries (bummer…), but pro tip: write your entries and screenshot them if you want to keep track of your entries. The content is just a bonus; it’s all about the process.
Increase your energy, get healthy, lose weight, sleep better, and stay motivated with Fabulous, an award-winning app designed to instil healthy habits, routines, and happiness in your life. A neat feature of this app is that it is designed to make you feel like you are on an adventure/journey to improve yourself, which is in all aspects true.
I WISH THIS WAS AVAILABLE FOR ANDROID, it’s so cute~ Laced with a retro pixel interface, this app is 200% aesthetic (honestly would just download to look at it every day - this is target market design done well). Looks aside, Aloe Bud is your pocket wellness companion that gives you little self-care reminders and exercises to complete each day, and includes a micro-journal for anything from bite-sized thoughts to un-clouding your overwhelmed mind. To developers: PLEASE make an Android version available soon (not gonna stop wishing).
Something a little different from the others; as a music therapist (YES I can FINALLY, OFFICIALLY use this title) I’m always on the lookout for handy apps that can be used in sessions. This unique app promotes relaxation and wellness through simple and creative music-making for all ages. Create music to help express emotions, write your own song with just a finger, and track your mood through your creations and journal entries. Praise to the developers for recognizing how music can assist with mental health and self-expression, and for making something so easily accessible. Again, this is only currently available on iOS - ANDROID VERSION PLEASE (even though I use it on my iPad but.. still).
SIDE NOTE: this week (May 6-12, 2019) is CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Mental Health Week! For more information, visit: https://mentalhealthweek.ca
“Mental health is a state of well-being, and we all have it. We might have a mental illness, and we might not. Either way, we can all feel well. We can all have good mental health. It is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life. And it’s never too early or too late to get there. But it’s not just about what you do for yourself, by yourself—everyone needs healthy and supportive places to work, live and learn.” (CMHA)
MORE WELLNESS APPS: [ 20 Apps to Improve Your Well-Being (thiamusic.wordpress.com) ]