mental-health

5 apps for a healthier, h(app)ier life

28/11/2018
— Zoë Heimann 

13th November was World Kindness Day. While you were thinking about how you could be kind to those around you, you probably forgot about the most important person of all: yourself. Whether it’s work or our personal lives, our days are filled with ups and downs, successes and disappointments. I am the worst culprit when it comes to beating myself up about anything I deem a ‘failure’. So much so, that I often let it overpower anything I might have done well.

Mental health in the workplace is a hot topic. This is unsurprising as, according to a 2017 survey, almost a third of employees have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I know all too well how debilitating it can be. Although it must be said that perceptions are slowly changing, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. While coughs and colds are easy to see, mental health is something of an invisible demon.

That’s why visibility is a hugely important thing to consider. Almost everyone is struggling with something, you just can’t always see it. So, what can you do to give yourself that little boost to help you tackle the day ahead? Some days you just need a kind, reassuring word and some days, you require a little bit more. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of apps out there that are doing wonders for incorporating self-care into daily life. Here are just five to get you started on the road to better mental wellbeing:

  1. Calm

Calm is the #1 app for meditation and sleep. My favourite thing about this one is the visuals – beautiful, dynamic images of nature, with calming sound effects, such as rain on leaves. It guides you through meditation and tactics for better sleep.

  1. Headspace

Headspace is a free app (with optional subscription, for access to more content), which coaches you through meditation and mindfulness techniques. It helps to relax you, without taking up your whole day.

  1. PAUSE

Pause founder Peng Cheng started practising Tai Chi and mindfulness, to deal with the stress and anxiety that was taking over his life. He decided to combine these tactics, his background in interaction design and modern technology. Pause uses sounds in reaction to pressure on its aesthetically appealing interface; the control is literally in your hands. It encourages you to use focus to re-centre yourself.

  1. Happier

Happier is based around the idea of practising gratitude skills to “find more joy, beauty and comfort in simple, everyday moments”. Thousands of scientific studies have shown the benefits of gratitude habits in many aspects of your life, including productivity and sleep.

  1. Podcasts and Audiobooks!

Okay, this one isn’t an app, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Sometimes, meditation sounds like hard work and 30 minutes of tuning into an interesting podcast is preferable. My current favourite is The Hilarious World of Depression – all about reducing the stigma around mental health. Audiobooks are a great way to ‘read’, when you don’t think you have the time for it.

Nearly half of all adults think that they have had a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life; it’s so important to remember that you’re not alone. Yes, mental health is a hugely personal thing, everyone is going to have their own nuances, but having open and transparent conversations about mental health is the best way that we can support each other.

The rise of apps like Calm and Headspace have helped to make mental health and practising meditation in vogue. While they’re not for everyone, I think there is something to be said for setting aside time each day – even just ten minutes – to focus on your mental wellbeing. How will you spend your #10MinutesOfKindness today?