The transition from lazy summer days to the demanding days of juggling work and school can bring me to maximum stress levels. I look around my house and all I see is huge list of to-dos. I think to myself, “if only I could just get these 20 things done, our lives will be so much easier.” Unfortunately, before I have even finished the first 20 I have new list of 20 more to-dos.
I have noticed I am not the only one in my family on edge. With AP classes looming, extracurricular activities piling up and the fear of missing out, my teens are beginning to feel anxious. Add on a beeping phone demanding their attention, I am not surprised their minds never stop whirling. In our always on and always available society, it is hard to disconnect and focus on the now. Trying to bring some calm in to a busy schedule is a challenge. Fortunately, there is an app for that.
This past year, I have discovered some excellent apps designed to help a worrying mind focus. I originally stumbled upon these looking for some ideas to help my anxious teen. After checking them out, I have used them myself. Now, instead of playing candy crush while waiting for soccer practice to end, I listen to a 2 minute guided meditation. I am surprised by how even 2 minutes can change your focus and settle your breath.
If you are looking to bring some calm into your life, try one of these apps. All of them are designed to quiet the mind and help teens and adults focus on the present, stay in the moment and find some clarity. For stressed out days, they may provide a needed mental health break.
SAM - Self-help for Anxiety Management
SAM (iTunes, GooglePlay) is from the University of the West of England Bristol. This app offers a variety of methods to help people manage their anxiety including helping users to identify stressors and track their emotions. The app also includes a variety of tools to help reduce anxiety such as questioning your thoughts, changing the focus, and relaxing. One of the ones I love is “picture peace” which uses drawing as a way to calm the mind.
Created by two non-profit organizations, Anxiety BC and BC Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Mindshift app (iTunes, GooglePlay) focuses on tools such as mindfulness, visualization and positive thinking. Instead of reading through these tools, a narrator walks you through different exercises for calming your mind. The voices are soothing and guide you through a series of meditations and relaxations techniques.
Calm (iTunes, GooglePlay) focuses on meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. It begins with the 7 steps of meditation. The app talks you through a guided meditation that can be as short as 2 minutes and up to 30 minutes. If you just need to sit quietly and listen to the ocean, you can choose solo mediation.
Smiling Mind (iTunes, GooglePlay) is another app that focuses on mindful meditation. A team of psychologists in Australia with expertise in youth and adolescent therapy developed this app. Smiling Mind is different because it is divided up into age groups and contains helpful tools for kids as young as 7.
If reading uplifting quotes on Facebook makes you feel better, this is the app for you. Positive Thinking (GooglePlay) is full of inspiring quotes to brighten your day. In the morning, you can search this app for just the right message to start your day.
These are my 5 free apps. A search of “mindfulness” in the app store reveals a slew of mental health apps. Iif you have a favorite app to help you find calm during a hectic day, please leave a comment.