The dreaded January blues can hit some of us like a tonne of snowballs, but we’ve hand-picked some great mental health apps that could be useful.
The leftover turkey’s been well and truly gobbled, the decorations are defunct, and work is back with a vengeance – those dreaded January blues can hit some of us like a tonne of snowballs. According to MIND, 1 in 6 of us report to feeling anxious and/or depressed in any given week, so it’s worth taking any mental health symptoms you may be experiencing seriously.
Believe it or not, there’s plenty of support right at your fingertips. You may not have the inclination to Snapchat or Instagram, but have you thought of turning to more relevant apps on the days when things feel tough?
It’s time to work on your mental health.
Whether you’re looking for specific advice or you’d just like some distraction from your thoughts, we’ve hand-picked some apps that could be useful. While they’re not a replacement for medical advice, they could well be worth having in your toolkit:
Depression CBT Self-Help Guide: free on Android.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is all about talking through your feelings, identifying thought patterns and behaviours that aren’t doing you any favours, and then giving you a toolkit to help deal with those challenging thoughts. This app also has a test that can gauge if you’re depressed, and the severity of your feelings. You’ll find articles about CBT itself (so you can get familiar with how it works) and you can use the tracking feature to help focus on positive thoughts and behaviours.
Sometimes a mood diary is the best way to stand back and keep track of how you’re doing. You’ll get an insight into any patterns you’re experiencing and hopefully you can understand a bit more about possible triggers. Catch IT is a joint project between the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester and was designed to show some of the key principles of psychological approaches – like CBT – to mental health and wellbeing.
This is a great app if you’ve been thinking about incorporating meditation into your daily routine. Mindfulness is a really useful tool, and not only for those of us who experience feelings of anxiety or depression. There’s a section called Learn to Meditate which explains why mindfulness is beneficial, and what to expect. And there are 30 free sessions that you can get stuck into with themes such as Breathe, Connect With Your Body and Be Kind. It even covers some of the neuroscience of mindfulness and the physiology of stress – in case you’re a little sceptical. And of course, you can simply use it to meditate and find calm with some soothing background tracks.
Sometimes the simplest strategies are the best. And if you just need to talk to people who are objective and trained, help is at hand in the form of TalkAbout. This app lets you connect with licensed, accredited professional counsellors in a safe and private online environment. It’s free to get started, but it’s worth noting that there will then be a weekly fee that starts at £25. This may put you off initially, but you’ll get unlimited sessions with your counsellor, 24/7.
Blue Light Therapy: free on iOS.
This app is designed to stimulate your brain with blue light. It helps you wake up more naturally (so you can stop abusing that snooze button) and claims to improve mood, restore alertness and improve motivation. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) then “you have a little piece of sky everywhere you go” according to the creators – they claim that the ever-changing patterns of interactive blue and white light therapy can really give you the boost you need.
If you don’t feel like yourself, then these apps could be a good way to start the journey to mental wellbeing. They’re no substitute for a visit to your GP but they just might help with some of your symptoms.
And if you don’t have the impetus to look at any of our app suggestions, don’t forget that mental health charities and helplines are out there waiting to speak to you. Calls to the Samaritans are confidential and free from any mobile if you dial 116 123.