Can you really find calm from your smartphone? Yes, according to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, (Howells, 2018) which concluded that smartphones offer a way “to make happiness seekers significantly happier.” It’s not the phone itself, however. It’s the access it gives to hundreds of wellness apps to help with everything from meditation, stress, and mindfulness to depression, anxiety, and productivity/habits.
Mental health apps are not intended as a substitute for face-to-face care, be that in person or by teletherapy. Look for professional, licensed, clinicians for that. However, mental health apps can be a great supplement to therapy or a convenient strategy for those looking to start new, healthier habits. One study found that 90% of people who tried a mental health app reported improvements in motivation, confidence, and attitudes about mental and emotional health. (Crookston, 2017)
Don’t have time? Even 10 minutes a day make a difference.
“It’s not about the duration of time,” says Dr. Margo Jacquot, founder and Chief Care Officer of The Juniper Center. “It’s about the capacity to focus and bring yourself into a state of mindfulness.” That means inviting your parasympathetic or “rest and digest” nervous system to take the lead. The parasympathetic nervous system is distinct from your sympathetic or “fight or flight” nervous system, which can be connected to feelings of anxiety.
The good news is that “every time you practice mindfulness or meditation, it’s like bringing your nervous system to the gym,” says Margo. “You can train it to get into that parasympathetic state more readily.”
Margo herself has used Calm (an Apple Best of 2018 Award Winner) and Insight Timer (free and boasting over six million users) apps for morning and bedtime meditations. Although there are plenty to choose from. (See this list of 23 Mental Health Apps for Stress, Anxiety, and More from verywellmind.)
More Tech-Based Resources for Mental Health
Caring for Our Caregivers
With many healthcare workers working 13-hour days seven days a week, finding time to relieve stress is near impossible for them. “Healthcare workers had higher rate of suicide than any other profession, and that was prior to the pandemic,” says Dr. Saloumeh Bozorgzadeh, PsyD, who founded Caring For Our Caregivers last April along with M.T.O. Tamarkoz® and the Sufi Psychology Association.
The not-for-profit has raised funds to distribute over 900 tablets and 31,000 individually wrapped headsets to 300 hospitals and counting. The tablets are pre-loaded with meditation and relaxation exercises that healthcare workers can easily use right on the job. (See the full story and details on how to help in the interview with Dr. Saloumeh under New on Video below.)