#MHAW16 - Mobile Self-Help

 This morning I wasn't feeling so great. It wasn't for any specific reason, it just happens sometimes and I don't do anything to bring it on. When I can feel it, however, it's so difficult to stop myself from spiralling lower and lower and just allowing it to happen. For this reason, as I showed in my most recent update blog, I have an envelope pinned to my cork board titled "What To Do if I'm Not Okay". For me, it's important to have self-help tools and techniques within arms reach, so it's easy for me to stop the spiral before it gets out of control.

Thinking about this, and thinking that maybe other people feel the same, I wanted to talk about the self-help apps I have on my phone in the hopes that one of them may be of use to you all. These days we all have our phones with us at all times, so why not store something on there that can help you relax and work on your mental health in as convenient a manner as possible?

1. SAMApp

I've spoken about the SAM or Self-help for Anxiety Management app in much greater detail on my blog before, so I would recommend reading that post after this one. It's an app that does as it says, provides the user with techniques for self-help and anxiety management. The UI is pretty straightforward and in bright, calming colours mostly blue and white. It comes with a large amount of features for just one app, including a tracker to track your anxiety levels at as regular an amount of intervals as you would like. There are various calming activities like colouring in images, typing out things that make you anxious and tapping the screen to blow them up, educational information, and contact information for emergency help to name just a few things.

2. Calm

The Calm App was recommended to me by my IAPT therapist while I was still seeing her. It's a guided meditation app, voiced by a generic but soothing female American voice. There is a free set of calming meditations available, much like the body scan meditation in varying lengths depending on your need. It also utilises calming sounds like ocean waves and rainfall to enhance the experience and block outside noises when using headphones. Because there are super short minimal movement meditations available through it I actually use this for situations in which I am immediately uncomfortable or panicked like crowds or particularly busy public transport. If I don't have the option to get up and walk, this is a great way for me to quietly lower my stress levels in the midst of a busy bus or train which can be unbearably stressful. There are more meditations available behind a paid subscription, but use the free 7 days of calm, compare with other apps, and see how you feel first.

3. Headspace

Headspace is another app for the purposes of guided meditation, with many many different courses of mindful meditations guided by the soothing and personable voice of meditation and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicome. There are meditations for all aspects of life and self-improvement like improving focus, sparking creativity, help with relationships and much much more. It's a fantastic resource for ongoing self-help, and while access to these meditations does come at a price the app offers a 10-step beginner course called "Take 10" for users to try for free and decide for themselves whether or not to subscribe. While this can be used on the go I would suggest being in a place where you can really engage in the words being spoken and feel entirely comfortable with meditating, unlike the Calm app. The results are honestly worth it, however. It's a really accessible way of taking on board mindfulness techniques and I absolutely love it, not to mention the aesthetic and the illustrations are absolutely charming.

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