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Anxiety Depression Health Issues Lifestyle Mental Health Stress

Self-help, Try our Top Three Apps to Soothe the Mind

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Self-help apps are a part of a growing economy

Addressing your mental health with smartphone apps may seem counter-intuitive, however, many people do find solace in such self-help apps and products.

I’ve been struggling with anxiety attacks for a few years. It’s been a painful process. As time went by, I became kinder to my mind and I got better at managing them. However, it was challenging, at first, to put myself together and to find peace, warmth and light while crumbling and suffocating.

I became fond of a few self-help techniques. My favourites (and the most effective for me) are: listening to soothing piano music, immersing myself in meditation, letting my friends shower me with love and support (which, I admit, can get a bit tricky at times) and binging on hazelnut chocolate while mindlessly watching comforting TV shows.

In this article, I focus on self-help through meditation, a complex process which has been praised since antiquity. I believe it’s one of the best methods to silence and mend your mind. Meditation is sacred in the Eastern World. It became popular in the West in the 19th century and it now has other attributes than religious and spiritual. It’s practised in one’s private and business life; numerous psychological studies showed that a regular practice leads to the reduction of stress, anxiety, depression and pain.

I think all of us have been told to try to meditate, to the point where we would roll our eyes dismissively and mentally rewind our unsuccessful past attempts. Rightfully so, as there’s nothing more frustrating than sitting crossed-legged on the floor, straightening your back, breathing in and feeling your thoughts squeeze into each other while you desperately try to ease your mind. The times I spent hunched over on the floor, testing breathing exercises and clenching my fists in annoyance, are countless.

I was determined to meditate, though. I turned to meditation apps as a last resort and was surprised by how helpful they turned out to be. They softened my journey and stilled my mind. Those apps are not limited to meditation though; they work if you’re dealing with stress, panic attacks, depressive episodes, all the cut. Think about it as a way of silencing your thoughts and embracing your mind, whatever your spiritual beliefs or non-beliefs are.

What is meditation?

Meditation means quieting the mind with the goal to attain an inner state of awareness, to intensify personal (or spiritual) growth.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means being fully aware, bringing your attention to fully experience the present. It means acceptance: you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel.

 

Top three apps to help you soothe your mind

Headspace

My personal favourite app is Headspace. Headspace is a guided meditation app that offers short exercises that you can complete daily. Their motto is “Meditation and Mindfulness made simple”. If, like me, you tend to be forgetful, don’t worry; it can also send you notifications. To be honest, the notifications can be a bit of a hassle and a guilt trip at first, but sticking to the daily exercises provides clarity in the long-run, so it is for the best. The spoken word exercises are very soft and they gently lure you into relaxation.

Headspace can be used for ten minutes a day, for less or even more – if you wish to repeat the exercises. When I have time and motivation, I try to push myself to do that. It brings me serenity.

The first ten days pack is free, the rest would cost you £9.99 monthly or £74.99 yearly.

*The app works both on Android & IOS.

Calm

Calm works similarly to Headspace: the app provides guided meditation, with a seven-day free pack, a £7.99 monthly subscription and a yearly option which is less expensive than Headspace: £29.99.

However, they also provide sessions that help you get a better sleep and unguided meditation sessions, bustling with music and nature sounds. The app’s design is quite lovely: as soon as you open it, calming background noises unfurl and the imagery is warm. You can choose from a variety of types of meditations, even walking meditations, and sessions on subjects such as forgiveness, love and kindness. The guided meditation sessions are led by Tamara Levitt, who has a beautiful, sing-songy voice.

My favourite feature from Calm is the sleep stories. I used to have quite an irregular sleeping pattern; sleepless nights, late hours, consuming dreams, early and draining mornings. Calm helped me get a profound sleep and lighter dreams.

*The app works both on Android & IOS.

Happy not perfect

Happy not perfect has the same aim as the other two apps: it helps people feel more emotionally balanced, reduces anxiety and stress and provides comfort.

It was created by TV presenter Poppy Jamie, who suffers from anxiety and crushing stress herself, therefore she has a personal insight, which is visible.

The app is colourful, complex and sophisticated. It’s easy to use, quite interactive and entertaining. You begin by choosing how you are feeling from a range of emotions, from “anxious”, “happy”, “meh” to “heartbroken”. The app switches things up daily, so you never have the same experience.

Then there are the REFRESH sessions, which push you to relax your shoulders, inhale profoundly and write down the things that make you sad, the things that make you happy, the things you are grateful for. My favourite feature is the option to send a thank you note or a compliment to a friend. It’s a reminder that you are loved and so are they. You can also virtually burn your negative thoughts after writing them down and you can keep a gratitude journal, in which you list the things you are thankful for, to scroll through on bad days. There also are RECHARGE sessions, with mini-games and breathing exercises to refresh yourself after a long day.

A monthly subscription is £8.99 and a yearly subscription is £52.99.

*The app works both on Android & IOS.

I think what the most important thing these apps have in common is that they teach you the goal isn’t to be perfect, but balanced. Peaceful. Aware and in control of your mind and body. And that is reassuring – and beautiful.

Happy meditating!

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Disclaimer – Content written for and on behalf of Healthnotepad.com is not professional medical advice and therefore cannot be taken as such. If you have a serious health problem or are affected by any of the topics covered on Healthnotepad.com, you could seek professional medical advice. Please be aware of other issues such as allergens that may come in to play when reviewing our posts. Always consult a doctor if you or a peer has genuine health concerns.

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Tea Nicolae

I am an aspiring Romanian writer and activist based in the UK. I'm an introverted kind of soul and I'm currently writing for a few independent magazines and cultural platforms. My work tackles depression, mental health, gender issues and pain. I cried for a week when David Bowie died.

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