Apps that You May Find Helpful
One of the beauties of our modern day is that we have many technologies to help us live our lives in more healthy ways. During times like these, it is helpful to know what apps could be beneficial in guiding you through getting calm and feeling empowered. The problem is that there are seemingly thousands of choices. A lot of them are good, but the sheer number of applications available to us can be overwhelming. In a time of elevated anxiety, it is important to simplify as much as possible. When a person is in a state of heightened anxiety, it does not matter what the stressor is that pushes us over the edge, sometimes it can be as simple as having too many options for meditation apps. To this end, I am writing this blog post. My hope is to provide direction to you that will lead to helpful resources. Disclaimer: The following list is not comprehensive and excludes many quality apps and programs.
Many of these programs are currently offered with extended trial periods to allow for use during the COVID-19 crisis.
I have not listed these in any particular order except for the first five applications/programs, which I recommend most often with my clients, the first two being ones that I suggest for nearly every client that I work with.
Meditation Apps and Programs
1. Head Space - This is the app that I recommend to my clients more than any other app. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of Mindfulness Meditation, and this app does more than guide you through meditations, it reaches you the science behind mindfulness and why it is beneficial to your wellbeing. My experience with this app was that it taught me the principles of mindfulness meditation, and now I can use those principles across a wide range of practices.
2. Self-Compassion - The next program that every one of my clients gets from me at some point is Kristen Neff's website on Self-Compassion. The importance of learning how to be kind to ourselves cannot be overstated. I believe that self-compassion is the heart of healing, and therapeutic progress requires the ability to be kind and find ways to allow for the mistakes that we and others make. Dr. Neff has programs on her website right now that are specific to self-compassion practice during the COVID-19 crisis. Check it out. You will be glad that you did.
3. Stop, Breath, & Think- This is my next favorite app because when you initiate the app, it asks you to check in with your body and emotions. You then complete a brief assessment, and the program provides you with meditation options that are specific to your needs at that moment. I like this for a couple of reasons, the first being that the check-in is an essential process that many of us are not good at doing. We often fail to check with our bodies. We, therefore, miss important information about how we are feeling until it is so evident that managing those feelings becomes more challenging then they would have been had we listened to the body and acted sooner to reduce our distress.
4. The Tapping Solution - This app walks you through a meditation and tapping practice called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is a type of meditation that I often recommend because of its ability to help us get grounded when we are feeling distressed.
5. The Mindfulness app - I like this app because of the variety of guided meditations that are available. There is a cost to this program, which is a bummer because it is a good app. Check it out and see if it seems right for you. Historically, this program has included types of meditations like walking and standing meditations that I did not find in any other apps that I have used. These types of meditations can be valuable in stressful times, such as these.
6. Doyogawithme - I have a confession. I have not used this program, but I am impressed by their efforts to make their services available to people during this challenging time by offering elements of their program free. I am confident that others are doing likewise, this is the one that I am aware of. Yoga has many health benefits, including helping us to remain grounded during stressful and anxious moments.
7. Unlocking Us - This is Brene Brown's new podcast, which is full of valuable information. It is hard to go wrong with Brene. Check it out.
8. Card Decks - Relationship guru John Gottman is the author of the card decks contained in this app. These cards include questions and discussion prompts to help you to get to know your partner's needs and your own. You may find it a useful practice to spend the time that we have in quarantine getting to know your spouse better. The cards may be an excellent way to pass the time as well as to strengthen your relationships.
9. Virtual Hope Box - I am not as familiar with this program, but have been impressed by all that it offers. It provides practical grounding and meditation exercises that can promote a reduction in physiological distress. The app is designed mainly for military personnel and, therefore, likely has the stamina to support you through the stress that you are experiencing. Check out many other excellent apps created by the same designers.
10.BrainTapPro - This app walks you through meditations using sounds that encourage relaxing brainwaves. It offers free meditations that may be helpful to provide you with a different, perhaps deeper, type of meditations.
11. Stop, Think, Breathe Kids - As a parent keeping my kids calm is also a high priority for me. Helping kids to maintain a calm state will help you as a parent maintain a deeper sense of calm.
12. PMR - Stands for progressive muscle relaxation. This app walks you through progressive muscle relaxation meditation. In times of high stress, it is essential to give the body space for calm. Staying calm is not just about addressing the psychological distress; you must also allow the body to "have its voice." PMR is a straightforward way to facilitate body awareness and physiological calming.
13. Luminosity - One thing that I think would help is to keep your brain active and engaged in new and different tasks. Luminosity provides brain games that can stimulate the brain and decrease boredom, anxiety, and binge-watching tv; all of these can lead to systemic depression.
14. Brain Fit Life - This is Daniel Amen's program and is similar to Luminosity; however, it is more extensive. Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and brain-imaging expert. He and his team know what it takes to have a healthy brain. This program can help you have a more healthy brain, and a healthy brain is a happy brain.
15. Kindle - Of course, most people know about the kindle app. This is included here because getting a book and learning new things can help keep the brain active. Keeping the brain active, as stated previously, can stave off depressive symptoms that result from boredom, anxiety, excessive t.v. watching and other unhealthy habits.
16. Audible - Ok, I know that this is basically a repeat of the last one, but sometimes it is nice to have someone read it to you. Also, hearing vs. reading can provide a different experience, and with that difference comes and a different set of functions in the brain, thus keeping it fresh and less likely to bore the system. If you want the best of both worlds, then use whispersync. I love it and use it often.
17. Coursera - This is a program that lets you take mini online courses. Many of them are free or have a low cost if you want credit for them. Again, the goal is to keep the brain active and make the most of the change in pace.
18. FitOn - A fitness app may help you to get some of the wiggles out. Who knows, maybe by the time this is all over you will emerge with better fitness habits. I am working up to this one. Well, at least I am thinking about it.
19. Niatv - Another fitness program. They are offering an extended trial period to help people through the COVID-19 crisis.
20. Calm - another meditation app that offers similar features to those already mentioned. I thought that I would mention it here because it is also a good program worth exploring for fit. I like to have many tools in my meditation toolbox. I think that if there is not a variety that we will get bored and more likely to stop using meditation as a tool to manage distress.
21. YNAB - Ok, so this one is not directly a mental health app; however, I have found it to be helpful in my life. It is a budgeting app that has allowed me to be able to get a better grip on my budget. I would be stressing a lot more during these uncertain times had I not used this app to change my mindset about money and to give me tools to manage it better.
22. LifeArmor - This is a cool app that allows you to assess yourself along a wide variety of struggles and then gives tools for how to manage them.
23. Breathe2Relax - This is a great app that coaches effective breathing. I know this seems obvious, but one of the first things that happen when we start to get stressed is that our breathing rhythms change. When this happens our stress levels can increase exponentially. A simple, yet powerful way to manage the escalation of distress is to work to regulate our breath. Give it a try.
24. T2 Mood Tracker - This is a great app. Monitor and manage your emotions and mental health by using this app. Use it to rate and record emotions related to anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, head injury - or a new category you create. The app makes it easy to see any trends and share the data with your therapist or doctor.
25. Tactical Breather - Another great resource for helping to manage your breathing in the midst of intense emotions such as anxiety or panic.
So there is my list of helpful resources. As I said before, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many useful resources, but finding them can sometimes be stressful in and of itself. I hope that some of the thoughts that I have shared will be beneficial for you. Hang in there!