You’re having a bad, dark cloud of a day and you don’t want to eat another handful of cookies. You’ve also already cried alone in your bedroom (or the bathroom at work), and employed every other coping strategy you could think of. In other words, you need a fix. Not a magic pill or a visit with your therapist, just something to calm you down in those moments when magic or an appointment aren’t immediately available to you.
And that’s where these apps can help. They’re cheap and they are easy to use. No, we’re not saying they’re medicine, but they can be soothing and useful. So give ’em a whirl the next time you’re having an episode and need a hand:
Sure, you’re already chronicling your feelings on Facebook and Twitter, but Moodnotes is not quite the same thing: You probably won’t go back to a status update and assess what it means, while that’s kind of the goal of this app, which employs Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) practices to suss out problematic behaviours so you can work toward changing them. $4 at the iTunes store.
Diary + Mood Tracker
Daylio’s Diary + Mood Tracker is a lot like Moodnotes except it’s for Android and not iPhone. It’s also free. You still keep track of your moods and activities, but it has less of the CBT-style questions to help you evaluate your behaviours. Instead, you rely on the statistics the app provides to self-evaluate, so if you like crunching data, this is for you. Free at Google Play.
In just five minutes, you can find yourself in a state of deep relaxation. This Harvard-approved app has many different settings and controlled breathing exercises, depending on your preferred method of relaxation. Find a guide sound and voice that works for you and then set your goals accordingly. Start with a shorter session to find control and advance as you see fit. Now, breathe! $3 at Google Play and $4 at the iTunes store.
This is the closest thing to a real person. Talkspace connects you with a mental health professional, a real-life person whom you can set up an appointment with over Skype or FaceTime. The turnaround is usually 24 hours, which is great in a pinch. It’s also quite affordable – Talkspace offers people unlimited access to a therapist for $25/week. For those moments when you need your therapist, but they’re unavailable. (Sound familiar?) Free to download at Google Play and the iTunes store.
Need a personal guide in your pocket? Well, that’s why Happy Healthy exists. It will act as a personal trainer for your mental health by routinely asking how you’re feeling. It’ll document everything and show where you can improve and how you can improve. It’s dead simple but has a proven effectiveness score of 12 per cent in six days and 22 per cent in six months. Free at the iTunes store.
Apps aren’t just for phones. There are mental health apps for desktop, which put some welcome space between you and one of your stressors (i.e. your phone), and allow you to work through exercises while on a break at work. Moodscope is a community of people like you, who are trying to be happier. There are plenty of exercises, results are shareable (should you want or need encouragement), and you can easily track your moods. Free. Sign up at Moodscope.
Work Guru is another desktop option and it’s very much workplace-stress focused, as it is only available as part of a corporate package at the moment. The desktop app teaches you how to cope with stress through an assortment of interactive modules, but you’ll also have direct-messaging chats with your counsellor. If you’re looking for better work-life balance, this might be something to bring up at the next company brainstorm. Prices vary at Work Guru.
It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 27, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk or sharing the Bell Let’s Talk image on Facebook. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.
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