There's an app for that!
In today's technologically saturated world, there is no shortage of valid health-related reasons to disconnect from our mobile devices. Yet, we mustn't overlook the potential health benefits these handheld gadgets can bring straight to our fingertips. If you’re looking to refresh your health, and more specifically your mental health, here are seven free mobile applications that can have a positive impact on your body and mind.
T2 Mood Tracker: Originally designed for service men and women to track their emotional and behavioral patterns following deployment, this award-winning application is now a go-to, self-help resource for both military members and civilians worldwide. Users can track their emotions in real-time and receive accurate ratings of symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress. Data is saved over time and can be displayed in a graphic format. As an added convenience, data can be shared via email allowing health care providers to monitor their patient’s symptoms throughout a treatment episode.
Parenting2Go: Developed to help military parents strengthen and reconnect with their families after disruptions caused by deployments, this app offers tools and guided exercises to help parents shift gears between work and home, become more mindful during family time, cope when feeling stressed or overwhelmed, manage challenging parenting situations, and communicate positively with their children. It also gives users quick access to their personal support network and resources for professional mental health care.
Virtual Hope Box: Designed to help individuals regulate their emotional and physical states and facilitate healthy coping, VHB uses personalized and supportive audio, video, pictures, games, mindfulness exercises, positive messages, activity planning, inspirational quotes, and other valuable tools. Users can upload their own photos, record words and videos from loved ones, listen to soothing sounds and music, and engage in guided imagery, controlled breathing, and muscle relaxation to decrease their experience of distress.
Breathe2Relax: This app teaches hands-on, easy-to-follow diaphragmatic breathing exercises for stress reduction, mood stability, anger control, and anxiety management. Users are guided by instructional audios and videos to counteract the body's 'fight or flight' (stress) response and achieve a state of calmness and relaxation. A unique feature allows the rate, speed, and depth of breathing to be adjusted for the user’s personal comfort.
Optimism: This self-tracking application helps users identify and understand factors that impact their mood and overall health. Users regularly record their emotional states, along with other factors such as their daily quality and quantity of sleep, amount of exercise, consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and potential emotional triggers. Data can be converted into charts and reports that provide an overall picture of mood and allow for detection of patterns and the development of strategies to maintain wellness.
ReliefLink: This SAMHSA award-winning mood and behavior tracking application was designed to assist with continuity of care and follow-up linkage for people discharged from inpatient units and emergency departments. Personalized safety planning, medication and appointment reminders, Help Center map locator, and an emergency button for connection to help lines, mental health providers, emergency services, and family/friends are just a few of the features offered. Coping tools such as voice-recorded mindfulness exercises and music for relaxation are also included.
Daily Yoga: This yoga-coaching application is weight-loss oriented and provides an on-the-go mind/body workout suitable for all levels, beginner through advanced. Videos offer step-by-step instructions and users can focus on specific body parts with dozens of poses and exercises in variable intensities. A global yoga community offers the opportunity to stay connected and motivate others.
**Please note that the above mobile applications are intended for use as an adjunct to (and should not replace) professional treatment.