We all experience stress in life that can throw us off balance and trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response.
But for a growing number of us, our modern lifestyles see us experiencing anxiety in a way that is far from normal or healthy.
In the last decade and a half, studies carried out by the National Centre for Social Research in conjunction with the NHS indicate an almost 14% rise in anxiety disorders in the UK.
[Not sure if you are suffering anxiety or just overwhelmed? Read are article on the difference between stress and anxiety.]
Could technology play a part in the rise of anxiety? Possibly. There have been studies linking things like Facebook use to an increased sense of social pressure and failure, especially amongst women. Then there is the access of information that technology can provide that might leave those prone to over thinking experiencing anxiety they might not have otherwise, fuelling such things as cyberchondria.
On a good note, there is a positive side to technology when it comes to anxiety. There is now a growing amount of applications (apps) available to help you recognise, monitor, and manage your anxiety more effectively.
Here are 5 apps that gain our seal of approval for helping you manage anxiety and its fallout.
5 Apps to Help You Manage Your Anxiety
1. Get the full picture – The Anxiety Depression Checklist app
Anxiety can be something you get so used to dealing with you underestimate how big the problem is. Or, you might be overestimating its severity, because you are anxious about anxiety itself (quite common).
The Anxiety Depression Checklist app helps you get a clearer picture of what you are actually dealing with so you can decide whether or not it’s time to seek support. It’s singular focus is to help you track your anxiety and depression (not a bad thing it does both, as the two come hand in hand so often it makes good sense).
The main page of this app asks you several questions used to decipher your levels of anxiety and depression. After answering the questions, the app shows you a gauge–similar to an odometer of a car–that reflects where your levels are at.
The interesting result that tracking your anxiety and depression with this app can have is that when you check in with how you feel, and find that you are a bit depressed and anxious, it seems that simply admitting to how you are really feeling alleviates the anxiety a little. Funny, that.
(for iOS users, depressioncheck is a similar app).
2. Manage panic – the SAM app
The Self-help Anxiety Management app (or SAM for short) is a graphically pleasing app from the University of West England that is a great all-rounder for those just wanting one app that fits all angles of anxiety. It
provides you with instant suggestions and tools when you are panicking.
A simple click of the “help for anxiety NOW” button is like having a personal coach to talk you down from the edge of a panic attack. It pulls up a brief statement about panic that you are encouraged to read twice, slowly, and then offers breathing, visualisation, and refocusing techniques to help you you calm down.
Along with this, you can:
- Rate your anxiety on a daily basis
- Learn and practice simple techniques that relieve anxiety
- Put together a virtual toolkit of anxiety relieving techniques
- Keep track of particular situations or people that make you anxious
Availability: Android and iOS
3. Keep your thoughts from spiralling out of control – the Worry Box app
Like the SAM app, the Worry Box app is another good all-rounder that aims to teach techniques to help you recognise and manage your anxieties.
After you list and describe your worries, the app then offers you a huge number of coping statements. This is ideal for those people who tend to suffer from black and white thinking, always thinking the worse. Instead, it helps you choose realistic thoughts that stop anxiety in its tracks (this concept, of finding balanced thoughts over extreme ones, is actually a core tool of CBT cognitive behavioural therapy).
The app also offers audio lessons on a number of techniques and mindsets that can help you find relief from your anxiety, including training on self-esteem, motivation, relaxation, and mindfulness training. And it links you to useful articles, too.
4. Breathe through it – Breathe2Relax
Deep breathing is scientifically proven to help release anxiety. It triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which counters the sympathetic nervous system which is causing your fight or flight reaction. It also stimulates the vagus nerve into releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that increases calmness.
If the only app you use when you next feel anxious is this one, and you only have a few minutes to spare, you will still see marked results.
B2R makes proper deep breathing for stress and anxiety relief a no brainer, starting with its very clear and easy to animated video on just how to ‘belly breathe’. A far cry from the way most of us tend to breathe when panicked, this involves breathing all the way into your diaphragm, and the video shows you how to do this both lying down and standing up (slightly more practical when you are at work, after all!).
You are then offered lists from which you choose the music and visuals you like for your breathing sessions, and before each session you are asked to rate your stress levels. Then you press buttons to time your best in and out breaths, so the app can help you keep rhythm.
When you start your breathing session, your chosen visuals and music plays as a sort of rising and falling thermometer on the left helps you make sure you breathing in and out in a consistent way, and a women’s voice encourages you to use your diaphragm and to keep going, her voice hypnotic enough your anxious thoughts seem to disappear. And if your feel the rhythm you timed earlier is too fast or slow, you can adjust it even mid process.
Given this all is so structured, it leaves you with no choice but to breath well and deeply, and given that deep breathing gives your brain the signal to relax, this app really works. Within two minutes it’s hard not to feel more relaxed and rate your stress as lower when asked to rate it again at the end.
Availability: Android and iOS
4. Make Anxiety Stand Still – Meditation Helper app
Mindfulness is a tool more and more therapists are integrating into their work with clients. Hardly surprising, given its increasingly evidence-based positive affects on anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness is mostly a practical and modern take on meditation, and Meditation Helper helps make the process of meditating easier. The app allows you to personalise your meditation goals and then walks you step-by-step through a menu that prevents your phone from disturbing you during that allotted time slot. It keeps a record of when and how long you meditated so you have a running record of your practice.
For iOS users, Insight Timer is similar.
Do you have an app that isn’t listed here that you use to help you manage your anxiety? Share below, we love hearing from you.