As the new year begins, you may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed and not know where to turn. During the holiday season, people can experience emotional ups and downs. Getting together with family, finding holiday presents, traveling, or even just the pressure of making plans often causes stress. Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has finished, many people feel the need to get back to a regular routine. For some, this means eating healthier and more regularly, while for others, it may mean tackling an overdue project or even a personal commitment for self-improvement.
So what can you do to get back on track? One place may be a device you use on a regular basis -- your smartphone. According to statistics conducted by Pew Research Center, "As of October 2014, 64 percent of American adults own a smartphone, 32 percent of Americans own an e-reader, and 42 percent of Americans own a tablet computer." With app usage on the rise, and one in four adults -- approximately 61.5 million Americans -- experiencing a mental illness every year (as reported by the National Institute of Mental Health) it may be useful to use app tools to plan for a positive new year.
To help you return to a regular routine and relieve stress, here are some apps that have been recommended to clients by myself and other mental health professionals. These apps can help you achieve your resolutions and experience a more rewarding and productive year.
ICouch CBT: ICouch CBT makes it easy to keep track of your thinking, analyze emotions, and change your outlook on life. When clients come to me with negative thinking patterns, ICouch CBT is my go-to app. It allows them to log their emotions or distortions, look for evidence of whether something is truly happening the way they see it is in their life, and increase the awareness to move forward in the future. Additionally, if clients are in therapy, they have the ability to email their clinician the work they completed in ICouch before their next session. ICouch costs $2.99 and is designed for both iPhone and iPad. Created by ICouch, Inc.
Happify: Happify is a science-based app that uses activities and games for stress and anxiety relief. In the New Year, Happify can be used to retrain your brain to banish negative thoughts and create a richer, more fulfilling life. This app uses writing tools games and activities, and community interaction to help boost confidence and decrease negativity. By starting off with a question and answer section about your personal feelings, Happify tailors the program to you. While Happify offers a free version to IOS and Android users, there is also a premium version that offers more for you to explore. Created by Happify, Inc.
Headspace: *App Recommended by Psychotherapist Rebecca Ziff from NYC* An app that I endorse and am familiar with through both friends and clients is called: Headspace. Headspace is advertised as a personal trainer for the mind teaching mindfulness and meditation practices. New Year's resolutions are often synonymous with going to the gym and a recommitment to take better care of our bodies. Headspace draws upon the mind body connection, and teaches the skills for greater focus, creativity and better relationships. Starting the new year off on the right foot takes focus, a clear mind and a positive outlook which Headspace aids in cultivating. The app boasts a Free Take 10 program where you learn the basics of meditation for just 10 minutes a day for 10 days to see if the app is a good fit. Headspace has helped clients of mine learn how to regain focus, learn how to breathe, and develop new healthy habits increasing motivation and self-esteem. Headspace is available for free and is for IOS and Android. Created by Headspace Meditation Limited.
Stop, Breathe, and Think: *App Recommended by Child and Family Therapist Michelle Paget from NYC* Breathe is a wonderful app that teaches various types of mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises. Some of these include mindful breathing, body scan, engaging the senses, and taking a mindful walk. Beginning a practice of meditation is not always easy but is a great way to start the New Year on the right foot. Many families I've worked with have used this app with excitement and adapted the exercises to fit into their weekly routine. Stop, Breathe, and Think is available for free and is for IOS and Android. Created by Tools for Peace.
Mindshift: *App Recommended by Family and Individual therapist from Fishkill, NY Noor Pinna*
Mind shift is a great tool for individuals with anxiety. It's really helpful for students as well as adults. Mindshift works in the following way: It starts by giving an overview of what anxiety is, then it creates scenarios a person may have difficulty dealing with, then it will share facts about the scenario before taking the person through learning how to create different thought process with behaviors and coping skills that you can utilize. With Mindshift, you have the ability to check in throughout the day. This is great for anyone for instance who wants to let go of perfectionism, social anxiety, managing anxiety and tackling fear. It's a great pocket guide on the go. It's a great complimentary tool for people choosing to start therapy or who want to get a better understanding of their situation. It really helps with targeting cognitive distortions and then replacing them through practice, changing the thought pattern and creating behavioral changes as well. Mindshift is available for free and is for IOS and Android. Created by Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia.
Lumosity: *App Recommended by Amy Bosk, Therapist from Astoria, NY*
Lumosity is an app for improved cognitive functioning. Each day, five games are generated to be played and scored that target different areas of cognitive functioning (memory, attention, speed, flexibility, etc.) Over time, the same games are played over and over, and typically scores increase and the areas the games target improve daily functioning ability. This app helps with brain training/exercise, and is both fun and helpful. Each day's training takes about 10 minutes, so it's an easy commute to work or waiting in line activity. Lumosity is an excellent tool to keep your mind clear and focused when working toward New Year's resolutions and goals. Lumosity is available for free and is for IOS and Android. Created by Lumos Labs, Inc.