A lot of media outlets love to publish stories about how smartphones cause anxiety. The anxiety that many people feel when separated from their mobile devices even has a name: nomophobia. Despite the potential harm of checking your smartphone every few minutes, mobile technology offers relief for patients recovering from anxiety disorders and depression.
If you worry that modern life has left your nerves frazzled, consider using these three apps to stay calm and heal your mind.
Operating system: Android
Anxiety often causes people to hold their breath, which is one of the worst things you can do since it deprives your body of oxygen and exacerbate symptoms. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of training for most people to breathe properly while having panic attacks. The Breathe app makes it easier by giving you several cues indicating when to breathe in and out.
Set Breathe to four seconds in and eight seconds out to stimulate your body’s parasympathetic response. You may notice that your heart rate slows and your breathing becomes more relaxed within 30 seconds.
This specific app isn’t available for iOS devices, but you can find options with similar features.
Operating system: iOS
Worry Watch is a journal that helps you track your mood over time. It’s an especially useful app for people who worry a lot. If you indicate that you’re having a bad day or facing a challenge, the app will check in with you later and ask how you’re feeling. More often than not, this feature gives you a chance to see that worrying doesn’t influence what happens in the world.
After a few weeks of using Worry Watch, you can review each day to find patterns. You may discover that certain types of events affect you more than others. You may also find that some interventions (deep breathing, journaling, etc.) improve your mood better than others.
Try using Worry Box if you own an Android device.
Operating system: Android and iOS
The PE in PE Coach stands for “prolonged exposure,” a type of therapy commonly used to treat people with PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs created PE Coach to help PTSD patients recover from traumatic events experienced during battle. You can still benefit from using the app even if you aren’t a veteran.
PE Coach encourages recovery by retraining you how to breathe, giving you an easy way to record therapy sessions, and reminding you to complete homework assigned by your therapist.
It’s important to recognize that mobile apps cannot replace therapy from a trained professional. Overcoming anxiety can take weeks or months of training. Without help from a certified therapist, you may continue to struggle with symptoms.
These apps can, however, give you and your therapist useful tools that make recovery easier. If you don’t have a disorder, you can use Breathe and Worry Watch to manage stress during difficult periods of your life. If you think you have a disorder, though, you should reach out to a therapist.
Image via Flickr by PracticalCures