Whether it’s the holiday season, or the beginning of a new year, or literally any time period ― life can get very stressful. We live in a fast-paced environment that is full of tasks, challenges, and possibilities. We are expected to lead a healthy lifestyle, earn a living, have a social life, take care of our loved ones, and still have some time and space left for ourselves. While all these are great goals to have, what usually follows is stress, anxiety, fear of missing out (FOMO), and burnout.
In 2020, WHO calculated that 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide. In the US, 7% of the population have lived through at least one major depressive episode. For anxiety, the statistics is somewhat lower: in the US, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects about 3% of the population. While seemingly unimpressive, this is 6.8 million adults. According to WHO, 3.6% of the world population have an anxiety disorder, which is about 264 million individuals worldwide. Those are clinically diagnosed cases; besides that, people experience chronic stress that hinders the quality of life daily.
The holiday season makes it worse: the American Psychological Association found that stress levels increase during the holiday season for 38% of people. Besides, 64% of people living with a mental illness report that holidays make their symptoms worse. Financial stress and feelings of loneliness are the most common causes of suffering during the holidays. The amount of planning and responsibility involved takes a toll even on the most resilient members of society.
In this article, we’ll talk about apps that can help. Of course, no amount of apps or tech solutions can treat depression or anxiety. For anyone experiencing symptoms of these conditions, we highly recommend seeking professional help. However, apps can be a part of a solution. Apps can help survive a challenging period of time or bring order and some sense of calamity to those who feel like their life is messy, unorganized, and full of subsequent anxiety.
Apps have a serious advantage compared to other forms of support. Unlike therapists, friends, or family, apps are always available. They don’t require any serious effort, they don’t judge, and they can always be deleted and forgotten about if found unhelpful. Basically, they are always worth a try.
In this article, we suggest apps that are worth trying out if you are dealing with anxiety, loss of control, or are feeling overwhelmed.
Apps for dealing with anxiety
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based method of dealing with anxiety and/or depression. During therapy, a patient is encouraged to identify wrong or unhelpful beliefs and thought patterns. They learn to recognize, deconstruct, and change them.
MindShift CBT helps those involved in therapy and also those who want to try CBT methods without going to a therapist. The app provides daily mood check-ins, which are a key part of therapy, as well as guided relaxation and mindfulness meditations. The app has tons of tips for dealing with general worry, social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and other common problems. There’s also a community board for people to interact with and support each other, which can be especially helpful if you’re feeling lonely or isolated in your condition. And the best part? The app is completely free.
Breathing exercises are a big part of dealing with anxiety episodes. They work very well when one has to calm themselves down, fall asleep, or prevent a panic attack. Breathwrk is an app that keeps all breathing exercises in one place, categorized by goals, such as falling asleep, feeling relaxed, feeling energized, or alleviating stress. The app walks you through how to do each exercise and can also send you daily reminders to breathe.
Most of the app’s content is free. However, there is also a paid version, which has even more breathing exercises and allows the user to track their breathing habits over time.
Sometimes, you just need a game to relax your mind and experience instant relief. That’s when an AntiStress app can come in handy. The app is full of little fun distractions, like bubble wrap popping, fidget spinners, pen clicking, soap carving, and many more. It will take your mind off and calm you down even during the most stressful moments. The app is 100% free.
Sometimes, stress comes from a simple lack of planning. Tasks in your mind pile up on top of each other, creating an overwhelming feeling of failure and lack of control. Apps can bring a structure into your life and create a routine that’s easy to follow. Here are the best apps for that:
Todoist is an easy and popular app that helps you organize and prioritize your tasks. Todoist allows you to create subtasks, sub-projects, recurring tasks, notifications, different priorities, and more. You can divide your tasks into categories, prioritize tasks based on how important they are, and share your tasks with other people. The app has a free version and budget-friendly subscription options.
Any.do is a Todoist alternative. It also allows you to organize your life and plan everything from buying a birthday present to coffee breaks. Tasks can be divided by categories and prioritized. All of them are clearly presented in lists, today’s view, and in a calendar. The app has a free option and a variety of paid plans, all of which cost less than a cup of coffee from Starbucks.
Habitica bridges that gap between being organized and being productive. If you’re suffering from constant procrastination and fatigue, this app is for you. Habitica introduces gamification at the workplace and at home. The app provides in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you to complete your goals. You can gamify your habits and tasks to suit your own level, achieve personal goals, and help yourself stay motivated and organized. You’ll also have a strong social network to inspire you and support you along the way. Besides, the app is completely free!
FOMO, or fear of missing out, refers to the feeling that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than you are. It became especially apparent when social media sites like Instagram and Facebook took over our life. This can be a serious problem with deep roots that might require actual therapy. More often than not, however, FOMO results in being constantly distracted and checking social media platforms every minute. In this case, here are some apps that can help:
Forest is an incredible app that encourages you to focus and at the same time help the environment. It introduces gamification at the workplace or at home, if this is your workplace at the moment. The idea is that while you’re staying focused and not using your phone, the tree is being planted. Forest team partners with real-tree-planting organizations, such as Trees for the Future. The more you stay focused, with the app open, the more the tree grows. The app has a dark side, too: if you don’t stay focused, the tree dies. You can also grow, as well as kill trees together with your friends. The app costs $1.99 and has in-app purchases.
This app with a catchy and somewhat ironic name blocks any distracting apps and websites that you choose. You can even block the whole Internet ― whatever it takes to stay concentrated and avoid the constant distractions. Whether you use Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, or Chrome, Freedom can sync blocks across all of your devices, and leave you no choice. The app is paid, but offers a free trial.
The environment we live in is obviously challenging. And technology isn’t a magic pill against all evil. Sometimes, however, even mobile apps can be life-changing. They can help reduce stress and deal with anxiety. They can help take control of your life and your time. They can take the role of a companion, a motivator, a therapist and a secretary. All while being right there in your pocket and free or almost free. Ironically, that’s something one wouldn’t want to miss out on.