Have you been feeling a little stressed out lately? Whether you’re not sleeping well or you’re just feeling run off your feet in general, it’s important to take care of your mental health. While some stress is healthy (it helps us respond to danger or other challenges) too much can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. In fact, the Australian Government’s Health Direct website advises that if stress is greater than our ability to cope, it can lead to physical and mental health issues and cause problems with relationships and work.
So, how can we make our mental health a priority and take steps to manage our stress more effectively? We’ve rounded up five handy smartphone apps that can give you a hand. It’s all about developing habits to improve our wellbeing, so let’s dive in and unwind!
Sometimes, the first thing you need to do when you’re stressed out is just breathe! The Breathing App couldn’t be more simple – all you need to do is time your breathing to the animation or counter on-screen. This will bring about a feeling of “calm, restful alertness” that occurs when we breathe 5 to 7 breaths per minute instead of the usual 15 to 18. If you’re feeling frazzled and you don’t know where to start, just breathe.
Meditation doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. In fact, the Aura app coaches you through three-minute doses of daily micro-meditations to help relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. It also has a range of other features focused of relaxation and mindfulness, including nature sounds, a gratitude journal and a mood tracker. Even if you have limited time to focus on yourself, Aura can help you make a daily habit out of mindfulness.
Yoga, yoga, yoga! Even if you’ve never tried it yourself, chances are good that you’ve heard about it. It’s amazing what some careful stretching, breathing and balancing can do for your wellbeing. People around the world use yoga to relax and improve both their physical and mental health. If you’re looking to dip a toe in the water, Pocket Yoga has an extensive dictionary of yoga poses with breakdown to help you make sure you’re getting it right, and there’s classes available for all skill levels. Best of all, the app doesn’t require an internet connection, so you can unplug and focus on the task at hand.
Colouring can be extremely therapeutic: by focusing on a creative activity, you’re not focusing on any negative thoughts. If you like the idea of adult colouring books but don’t want to cart around a bunch of art supplies, then a colouring app may be just what you need to unwind on the go. The Color Me app may spell the word ‘colour’ differently to us Australians, but it’s still a great little app that gives you a wide range of designs and colours to choose from without needing to pay for a subscription.
A good night’s sleep is absolutely vital to your wellbeing. If you’re not well-rested, you’ll have a much harder time facing the day’s challenges. If you’ve ever woken up feeling groggy and run-down, chances are that you’ve woken up during the deepest part of your sleep cycle. The Sleep Cycle app hopes to change that by keeping track of your sleep patterns and gently waking you up during the lightest parts of your sleep cycle so you feel well-rested and refreshed. There’s even an Intelligent Snooze feature for slow risers!
Do you have a relaxation app that you swear by? Let us know about it in the comments.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Lifeline offers 24/7 phone counselling and crisis support. Call 13 11 14 to talk about your stress and find better ways of dealing with it.