When you look at me on the outside, you won’t see anxiety. You’ll see a relatively put together, smiley, and upbeat woman with a bounce in her curls and a pep in her step. I often greet with an extended “Hiii!” and a hug. Maybe a high five if I’m feeling particularly perky. People see me with a coffee cup and iPhone in hand, be-boppin’ around like I don’t have a care in the world.
If only you knew what was going on in my brain, you guys. People usually don’t believe me when I say I have anxiety because I’m so good at pretending like I don’t. Part of that facade is because of the stigma mental illness has in our society, and the other part is because I want to be happy and normal so I really try. Plus, I kind of hate talking about my problems in person to people I don’t know, and it’s very difficult to explain what anxiety feels like. For me, it feels like I’m drowning but above water and sometimes it makes my head want to pop off of my body. But I digress. You wouldn’t know by looking at me that I struggle with anxiety and depression because I don’t show that side of me to the general public.
So what’s my secret?
Well, first of all, I’m medicated. Secondly, I’m in therapy. And thirdly, I utilize the wonderful world of technology! Since I rarely go anywhere without my phone, I use it to help me in my everyday battle with anxiety. My friends are always asking me what apps I use to conquer my mental health struggles, so here you go:
Yeah, yeah. Everyone and their mother uses Headspace. But there’s a reason: it actually works! I like Headspace because it provides free 10-minute meditation sessions, but it also gives you the opportunity to purchase more packages if you want. There’s no pressure. Plus, the app is super clean, easy to use, and cute.
2. Simply Being
Simply Being is, well, simple. You set your meditation time, music, volume, and voila! You’re on your way to an easy guided meditation. My only caveat is the voice can be a little annoying, but it’s not like nails on a chalkboard or anything.
Breathe is a super cool app. It does provide guided meditation, but what’s really great is that it tailors your session to how you’re feeling that day. You check in and answer questions about your mood, and the app gives you a variety of sessions that will help you specifically based on your needs. And it tracks your meditation progress in a neat chart.
4. CBT-i Coach
I wouldn’t have picked out CBT-i Coach if I had just seen it in the app store. I downloaded it per recommendation of my therapist, who is literally the best. While the app design looks like it’s straight out of Windows ’98, it’s actually very useful. It gives you tips on everything from sleeping to mindfulness, tracks your sleep, and provides guided meditation. You can also schedule alerts that remind you to meditate or stop drinking coffee after 2 PM.
One night, I was perusing the app store during a bought of insomnia, and I stumbled upon Sleep/Relax. The description explained it as a hypnosis app. I figured I’d give it a shot. Within five minutes of putting on the “Sleep Like a Baby” session, I was legit asleep like a baby. Now if I’m ever wide awake at night, I use this app.
“Caitlin, Notes isn’t an anxiety app.” Yeah, you’re right. But when I get anxious, I like to write things down and monitor why I’m feeling anxious at that particular moment. It’s called being aware of your triggers, trick. Anyway, even as a seasoned writer, I for whatever reason don’t always have a notebook or journal around. So I catalog my ~feels~ in Notes. You could use any kind of note-taking app I suppose, but this one is already downloaded and syncs to my computer.
7. Puzzle Game of Choice
You know what I do when I’m really freaking out about something? Well, first I practice mindfulness or meditate and get in the zen zone or whatever. Then, I play a puzzle game. Some might say this serves as a distraction, but see, the loophole is that I am mindful before playing any games! I used to rely on Candy Crush, but it would stress me out to the point of wanting to throw my phone out the window. Now I play a word game called Alphabear. Choose a soothing and/or thoughtful game for your brain. If you do something with words or numbers, it will also boost your knowledge in the process so it’s a win/win.
I’ll level with you: anxiety suuuuucks. I have good days and bad days, but I’ve learned that being active in managing my anxiety is key. If some apps can help you chill the eff out, why not give them a try?
What are your fave anxiety/depression/whatever management apps?