I have had a lot of things thrown at me over the last few months. I’ve moved to a new city and started a new job. But within those two seemingly amazing changes, there has been a lot of hiccups along the way. For example, I’m currently staying with family until I can get my own apartment. Need I really say more? The point is, we all handle stress and change differently. There have been times where I’ve handled things really well, and taken it all in stride. But there are just as many times that I’ve had epic meltdowns because I didn’t think I could go on.
Each time I go through one of these situations, I try to look back on what transpired in an attempt to learn from the experience. I also spend a lot of time cringing at my behavior. Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe. I do tend to beat myself up about anything and everything. But at the same time, I think it’s important to do that kind of reflection. Why? There are times when I can completely blow things out of proportion. But there are also times that I’m spot on with my assessment of the situation.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with a technology blog. Based on what I’ve said so far, nothing. However, as I’ve said many times, I find technology incredibly helpful in my quest to be a healthier person. Whether I’m logging my calories in My Fitness Pal, tracking my steps through Duffy, or logging my workouts through the Activity app, I am able to see what kind of progress I’m physically making. But what I don’t have a good handle on is my emotional or mental health. This isn’t something that we tend to talk about. And if I’m being honest, this isn’t something that I like to talk about either – especially when it pertains to myself.
But the harsh reality is this – more than 300 million people worldwide have some kind of depression. This is different than mood fluctuations or short-lived emotional responses. But if we aren’t checking in with ourselves regularly, those short-lived emotional responses can turn into long-term issues. How can technology play a role in our mental health? Check out these apps to help you work through the day to day stressors:
Simple Gratitude Journal
This is a pretty simple app, but I like to be able to use it to reflect on things that I am grateful to have in my life. I can go back to this app at a later date and remember the things that I’m grateful for. This is not an easy exercise, but once you use it more often, you’ll start to feel gratitude in general.
Thought Diary will help you evaluate, understand, and change your thoughts and feelings. By using this application, you can work to identify your emotions, analyze how and why you’re feeling this way, challenge those negative beliefs, and change your thinking patterns for future situations. I like this particular app because it allows me to really analyze what I’m thinking or feeling in that moment. However rational or irrational they might be at that moment, once I write them down, they’re there. After that, I like the ability to go back and review those thoughts and feelings to gain a better understanding of what is really upsetting me.
All this does is allow me to track my sleep, but the reason that this is important is because if you’re not rested, you’re going to feel well emotionally. Or at least I don’t. I can look back through the app and see where I’m not getting enough sleep, and I can also trace those moments back to “bad” days.
Breathe (Apple Watch)
If you have an Apple Watch, you’re likely familiar with the Breathe app. Call me cheesy, but on especially stressful days, having that reminder is all I need to get me into a better space mentally and emotionally. It’s not always that simple, but it helps for sure.
While I have gotten out of this over the last couple of months, meditating is a really good way to focus yourself mentally. This takes the premise of the Breathe app, but you end up doing it for a longer period of time. Maybe 15 or 30 minutes. Start slow though – try 5 minutes at first. You will find that the time zips by after a few sessions. Two apps that I would recommend are Calm and Headspace. Both require a subscription but are kind of worth it. Alternatively, if meditation isn’t quite your thing try the Down Dog yoga app, to at least get your breathing in check.
Lastly, part of looking after your mental health also includes making sure that your life is in order. I don’t mean making sweeping changes in your life, but just being able to make some small changes will go a long way. Try the app Fabulous – Motivate Me or Productive if you’re trying to modify some habits. Maybe you’re trying to drink more water, or eat more vegetables? Both of these apps will help you want to make some changes in your life.