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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Morran

Are you using these 5 apps to help ease anxiety?

In this day and age, most of us have access to a smartphone. It got me thinking about what apps might be helpful tools to have in your toolbox to help ease anxiety. Coping with anxiety varies from person to person and there are a variety of different apps that may be helpful.



1. Mindfulness Meditation app:



There are a variety of mindfulness meditation apps available but Smiling Mind is completely free! Not only is this a free app there are extensive categories some include adults, kids (broken down by age and grades), youth, families, at work, on the move, and a few different languages. Within these categories, there are programs to support sleep, meditations for on-the-go, digital detox, stress management, sports performance, studying, and unguided meditations.


Anxiety can get in the way of living in the here and now but mindfulness can help us better focus on the present moment. Research has shown that the consistent practice of mindfulness can help reduce anxiety. Part of mindfulness is creating awareness, acceptance, and reflection on your current mental and physical experience. The app has a built-in reflection process called the well-being check-in to help you increase awareness to help ease anxiety.


If you are new to mindfulness it can be challenging to remain consistent in your practice, with the Smiling Mind app, you can set reminders to help you build the new habit. The app also offers programs for you to learn and explore what mindfulness has to offer, for example, an intro to mindfulness with 6 small clips to introduce you to mindfulness. You can watch each clip one at a time, the longest being 6 minutes. When learning something new it can be nice to break it up into smaller bite sizes to make it more "digestible".


The Smiling Mind app has close caption option for the hearing impaired or times when listening may not be an option. I think about being in your office at your desk or while your child is sleeping in your arms, you can still practice mindfulness using this app. If you prefer listening to the audio can you can choose a male or female voice, to have background music or not, and at what volume.


The app also provides a link to blogs that offer tips and tricks for mindfulness. The app is set up for beginners and people who have experience with meditation, what an awesome no-cost app!


2. Meditation app:




The Down Dog Meditation app is not a free app but you do a trial to see if it would be the right fit for you. The one thing I love about this app is there is a spot to explain why the cost is a barrier for you and Down Dog may be able to reduce the cost to access their app. This app is also available free to students and teachers.


Again Meditation has been backed by research as a proven tool to help ease anxiety. Mindfulness can increase your body awareness which can help you better regulate the emotions that accompany your anxiety. The Down Dog Meditation app keeps a calendar and history of your practice, if you wanted to listen to a previous meditation you can just click on the specific date on the calendar that you previously practiced. You can also add them to your favorites to easily find them again.


The app offers several different types of meditation practice including guided, sleep, walking, and guided breathing. You can customize the voice, the volume of background music, and the length of time the meditation practice will be up to 1 hour.


If you have a Down Dog account you can access all of the Down Dog apps: Meditation, Yoga, HIIT, Running, Barre, and Prenatal yoga.


3. Mood tracking app:




It can be helpful to track the emotions that accompany your anxiety, the more awareness regarding your emotions the more you will be able to regulate them. If you work with a therapist it can be helpful for you to have an awareness of the emotions you experience when anxiety takes over. When you can share your awareness with your therapist they can better support you.


The Moodpress - Mood Diary Tracker can be used on the free version and is still very helpful. If you choose to subscribe (included no ads and more options to customize) it is $14.99 annually. On the free version, you can track multiple moods daily, add different moods, and add your own Emoji.


There is the ability to link your emotions to activities that are also customizable. Reflecting on your mood and the activities that may affect your mood can help increase your awareness. This increase in awareness can help you and your therapist explore and develop a plan to better cope with similar situations.


The Moodpress - Mood Diary Tracker app also has a build-it emotion soothe with sounds that you can use from 5 minutes up to 120 minutes. Not only can you track your mood, and the activities that impact your mood, you can do something at the moment to try and alleviate your anxiety. You can also use the mood-tracking app to help determine how participating therapy is helping manage anxiety.



4. Journaling app:



The practice of gratitude can help relieve the symptoms and negative thoughts that accompany anxiety. Anxiety has a way of shifting your focus to the negative or problem areas and discounting the positive. Research shows that the more present we are, even if the present moment isn't pleasant, the happier we tend to be. The practice of gratitude can be a competing response to symptoms and negative thoughts that come with anxiety.


The Gratitude: Self-Care Journal app can be used as the free version and still has so much to offer. There are a few different categories within the app itself that are discussed below.


Affirmations: A positive sentence, phrase, or statement you repeat that is aimed to encourage positive thinking. They can be especially helpful when struggling with anxiety and help ease your distress. There are affirmations provided by the app (limited on the free version) and you can create your own, including adding your own photo. You can also audio record your personal affirmation to play aloud.


Daily zen: This category includes the quote of the day, motivating quotes, and resources to help you practice gratitude. The use of positive affirmations for people who experience anxiety can help decrease excessive worry. You can bookmark any that resonate with you so you can read it again or share it with others. In this category there are components to help challenge unhelpful thinking, giving examples of how you may want to shift a negative or unhelpful thought.


Vision board: A vision board can help encourage self-exploration and challenge any limiting thoughts or beliefs. This category allows you to add photos from the app or your own personal ones and customize the caption, then watch a slide show of your virtual vision board. You can really be as creative as you choose to be. If you struggle with anxiety it may be helpful to display images and words that focus on how you want to feel and visuals that help you feel empowered to move forward in the direction you desire.


The Gratitude: Self-Care Journal app offers daily reminders (can set it for morning & evenings the time is customizable) which can help develop consistency in your gratitude practice. If you find value in the app and would like to access the paid version it costs $37.99 annually.



5. Breathwork app:



Anxiety hijacks your amygdala, pushing your body into a survival response. When your body goes into fight, flight, and freeze your sympathetic nervous system is activated. Doing breathwork helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, acting like a brake to slow down and promote a "rest and digest" response to help calm the body.


The Breathly - Just Breathe app is simple and completely free, you can jump into the app and practice a couple of cycles of breath without much navigation at all. The app allows for the customization of 5 different breathing patterns to practice, with an explanation of when or for what reason the breathing practice could be helpful. Example: "Deep calm (inhale for 4 seconds-hold for 7- exhale for 8-hold for 0) A natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Suggests doing it twice daily".


You can also completely customize the length of inhale, hold, exhale, and hold length in the customization category if the patterns available do not meet your needs. The app has a circle that visually moves with you as you breathe and you can choose from 2 different voices, a bell or none.


DISCLAIMER: I didn't purchase any of the apps discussed in this blog, and am not affiliated in any way with the apps discussed in this blog.


The 5 apps are just a few examples of apps that are available to help support your journey to ease anxiety. You may know a loved one who may benefit from an app like one of the above. I understand that there may be value in purchasing or subscribing to apps but it was important for me to find apps that are free, valuable on the free version, or that offer a discount when finances may be a barrier because they should never get in the way of accessing support for your mental health.


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