Mindfulness Series: 5 Apps for Mental Health
We are in the age of technology, and this brings new benefits and challenges to our society. One of the challenges that seem to be sweeping over everyone (especially healthcare workers in the age of COVID) is mental health. The media continually portrays negative news while simultaneously filling our heads with curated images of everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives. No matter how well you may be doing, social media makes it seem like someone else is doing better. It’s also an added challenge that healthcare workers, especially nurses, are continuously surrounded by life and death situations. Daily difficulties and losses can take an incredible emotional toll, and nurses often report feeling drained and numbed to everyday life. I mean, for example, how is anybody supposed to stay sane when they have seen so many losses from COVID and then go on social media to see people blatantly not wearing masks all year and posting conspiracy theories??
But even outside COVID, nurses face incredible stresses on a daily basis occupationally. And that doesn’t even include personal struggles! Friends, family, relationships, and just general life can all wear us down. And while we often are careful (or try to be…) about what we consume physically, what we consume mentally is overlooked. Just as it’s important to feed your body high-quality sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep you going, it’s important to feed your mind and soul with healthy materials. Self-care and mental health care can come in a variety of methods, and today we are going over some of our favorite apps to download on your phone for easy access to a little emotional wellness throughout your day.
If you are into meditation or have ever looked into it, you may have seen Insight Timer. It is one of the most popular meditation apps on the market, and for good reason. There are over 10 free guided mediations added to the app every day, and the app includes thousands of meditations covering every topic imaginable. If something specific is troubling you, such as loneliness, anxiety, or fatigue, you can search for specific guided meditations and short mindfulness lectures to help you recenter.
Similar to Insight Timer, Headspace is a great meditation app. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, help with addiction and anxiety disorders, and improve overall wellness. Headspace has a daily meditation that always covers a new topic and can be set to 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes. There are also specific sleep meditations and a series of meditations for beginners. This app is especially good for those starting out as the meditations tend to be fully guided.
Calm is an app that is focused on helping you relax. It has a variety of exercises and breathing techniques that are specifically targeted towards calming the mind and body. It also has a Sleep Stories section that is meant to help reduce anxiety and promote deeper sleep. One benefit of this app is that the breathing exercises, walking meditations, and relaxation exercises can be accessed from an Apple Watch. This is a great app to use throughout your day when you have a spare moment to recenter yourself and reconnect to the body.
For those of us that feel weekly messaging or talking with a trained therapist would be useful, BetterHelp is a great way to be connected to a licensed health professional. It is more cost-effective than traditional therapy and there are thousands of good reviews. When you sign up, you will be asked a variety of questions about your needs and what type of therapist you desire if you have specific preferences (such as specialty, gender, religious-based or not, etc). You can also request to have messaging sessions, calls, or video meetings with your therapist. If you don’t connect with your therapist, you are able to request a new one or even search through the therapists on the site to find someone you feel may be a good fit for you.
Gratitude is an app that is aimed at helping people incorporate gratitude practices into their daily lives. Gratitude has been shown to have real effects on the brain and increase happiness within our daily lives. This app has functions for you to write journal entries, receive daily quotes, build vision boards and goals, and write self-affirmations. You can also set daily goals and receive prompts for your journal entry, such as “someone who is special to you” and so on. There are also challenges to help people get started, such as 14-day Thanksgiving gratitude challenges and monthly affirmation challenges.
Even just incorporating small daily tasks, such as 3 minutes of breathing, 1 gratitude entry, or a 5-minute sleep meditation can make a huge difference over time. Consistency is key when it comes to mental health, and it truly is not something that we can just cram in one day. However, the toughest part is getting started. Over time, you will start to even look forward to your daily practices! And if you miss a few days or you fall off the wagon, these apps are always here for you, ready to help you feel back in control and back on track. Let’s make the rest of 2021 a great year for mental wellness. We deserve to feel happy, confident, and at peace in our daily lives, and these apps are great tools to help us get there.