10 Apps To Make Life with Anxiety Easier
Written by Anneli Roberts
I know your phone can be a menace and source of distraction and also of social anxiety triggers. I'm actually terrified every time mine rings.
Did you also know that, used correctly, your smart phone can hold a bunch of tools that actually HELP make anxiety easier to live with?
Here's a list of 10 apps that I use every day to relieve some of my worries:
#1 Apple Podcasts
Podcasts are great. I subscribe to MANY (worth a post in itself), and even host my own. The reason I like them so much is that they are audio only and therefore, unlike a video, can be listened to while you're busying yourself with other activities (like cooking dinner or trying to sleep). I listen to podcasts while I'm riding the bus, as I often need to block out any excessive noise level. This app has saved me from tipping over the edge into a panic attack SO MANY TIMES. Also, it comes pre-downloaded on your iPhone and is totally free - minimal effort.
Stitcher is a great alternative to Apple Podcasts for those of you who are on Android, but there are many alternatives out there.
Any kind of "To-do" app will do the same thing, but I favour Apple's Reminders. I did find an interesting one called "Carrot" actually, but she gets mad at you if you don't complete your task list, so use with caution. Setting reminders on my phone relieves me of some of the worry and angst that goes with having an ever building list of things I need to do, especially useful on those days where I'm having difficulty concentrating or I'm struggling with my memory.
#3 Rain, Rain
This app is a collection of different sound that you can listen to while you sleep, relax or meditate. There are several different kinds of rain sounds, other sounds from nature and household sounds that some people find comforting (such as white noise or a washing machine). One of the nicest features on this app is that you can layer multiple tracks to make an overall sound - so I like to layer rain, seagulls and a fireplace crackle, which reminds me of North Wales. The app also allows you to set timers and reminders for when you should be heading to bed.
While most people know Bumble as a dating app, you can also swipe for networking and friends. If you're new to a city and you find social events particularly problematic for your anxiety, you can always head on over and see who else wants to connect. As with any "meeting" based App/Site, use with caution and never give personal details away.
Clue is primarily a period tracker, which is bloody useful in itself, but it also has a pretty intuitive "mood tracker" feature. You can track your emotions, your energy levels, your physical symptoms and sleep habits as well as many other things. It's always useful to track your symptoms, but can be particularly useful in the days and weeks leading up to a GP appointment to discuss your mental health (or your period). The app also has medical info, which could help alleviate concerns, but also could contain triggers - use with caution.
Audible is Amazon's Audio Book app. It's available for iPhone and Android, and has a really easy to use interface. I mostly use Audible at night for helping me sleep; most audio books are slightly gentler than podcasts in tone, and they also tend to be a little more predictable in terms of volume and subject matter. I have repeatedly listened to Stephen Fry's reading of the Harry Potter books (as I mentioned in a previous post), but I'll do another post with a rundown of all my favourite audio books. You do need to visit the Audible site to sign up and purchase any AudioBooks before you can listen to them, there are some free books available (such as Dave's Crackanory - which is great), but personally I pay monthly to use the app. Sign up for a free 30 day trial here.
This one is handy if you regularly split bills with a friend or if, like me, you live with a housemate. You can set up multiple contacts on the app and then add anything you pay into it (and the % that each of you are responsible for - default is 50/50) - it takes way the anxiety around talking about money (if this is something which triggers you) and also helps you make sure you aren't paying too much or too little. Since installing the app, Sarah and I haven't really had to talk about money at all - whichever one of us is up for the month, just takes it easy the next, etc and it has actually shown us that we spend a pretty similar amount on the household and on each other.
This might seem as a weird choice, because the social media network gets quite a bad rep for trolls, but I've found it by far the friendliest and most supportive. Most people on Twitter will follow you because they're interested in what you have to say, rather than because they have met you IRL, which means it is a relatively safe space for expressing yourself and connecting with like minded people. It is the internet though, so there's always a chance of some bullshit, but most people have a positive experience. There's also someone about at all times, who is up for a chat - especially if you use chat friendly hashtags such as #JoinIn247.
Peer to peer support is absolutely critical in managing your mental health, and We are Wisdo purpose built for that. You can sign in with Facebook and join into any of the available topic forums. The idea is that you show others that you have "been there" and have had certain life experiences, which others can then turn to you for support with - you are then free to chat with others who are using the network. There are plenty of moderators and they are very active, so it's unlikely you'll run into any trouble on the app although, as with anything, it can never be 100% risk free. My experience of the app has been positive.
I know this may seem a little obvious, but please never underestimate the power behind the fact that your phone can ring people. You can reach out to a friend or family member at the touch of a couple buttons and that makes it a pretty important tool. Crucially though, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123, and get through to one of their trained volunteers, who will listen to you. Please never be afraid to call them, they are there for you.