By Nicole Glennon
Limerick Mental Health week will run from Sunday, October 9th to October 16th this week, an initiative which aims to raise awareness about mental health issues and provide information about the supports available around Limerick.
Although there is no replacement for speaking with a trained professional or drawing support from a trusted friend or family member, there are many apps available on both Android and iOS that can help promote positive mental health in your life.
The following apps are some of my favourite for taking a breather, reflecting on the good in my life or just reading something positive to start off my day.
Headspace (Android & iOS)
Marketed as a “gym membership for the mind,” this app encourages you to invest in your mental health just as you would in your physical health. Headspace, the brainchild of former monk Andy Puddicombe, is all about being “present” in the current moment. After downloading the app, you can avail of a free ten-day programme which requires you to set aside ten minutes of your day for meditation. After this, you can become a paying member where you have access to a wide range of programmes that cover topics such as anxiety, depression, focus, creativity etc. The app even includes unique once off meditation sessions designed to help you meditate in a variety of sessions; cycling, cooking, even while eating!
WorryTime (Android and iOS)
ReachOut.com are behind this wonderfully simple app that is designed for those of us who have been coined “a worrier.” The app promises to help you combat perpetual worry by allowing you to store away your worries for a specific time each day. This way you can set aside anything from five to twenty minutes a day to allow yourself to think about your worries instead of “carrying them around with you 24/7.” All you do is make a new note when a worry enters your head and at the end of the day you can swipe through all of these worries. My favourite aspect of the app is that you can scrunch up the virtual piece of paper your worry is on and throw it away at the end of the day if it isn’t worrying you anymore!
Attitudes of Gratitude Journal (Android)
The pretense of this app is simple as well as the interface. All you do is write something down that you’re grateful for – preferably at least once a day. It’s a simple idea but it can really make a difference to how you’re feeling. If we can all take just a few minutes to reflect back at the end of the day we are guaranteed to find something good in each and every day. The app also allows you to add pictures as well as the option to set a notification to remind you to notate what you’re grateful for every day. This app is only available on Android but for iOS users, the Five Minute Journal is an app version of the popular physical journal from Alex & Mimi Ikon which serves a similar purpose.
Pacifica (Android and iOS)
Pacifica is the most comprehensive of all the apps. It allows you to track your mood, record your thoughts at any given moment and set challenges for yourself. Based on your mood the app will recommend what activity they think you should do in that space of mind eg. take a moment to relax, journal your thoughts, set a goal, etc. Under the ‘Health’ section you can also input the hours of sleep you got that day, how long you spent exercising and/or meditating, how much water you drank etc. There’s a relax tab with meditations for every kind of situation and from simple breathing exercises to longer, guided meditations. The only downside to this app is because there’s so much you can do it can be a bit overwhelming trying to track everything all of the time.
Good News Network (Android and iOS)
These days it’s impossible to turn on the TV, the radio or your phone and not be bombarded by bad news. Whether it’s the latest in a stream of outbursts from Trump, another bombing in Syria or a shooting in the US, it feels like something horrific and tragic happens every single day. It goes without saying that this has a negative impact on our mental wellbeing and can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Good News Network does exactly what it says on the tin – it brings you the good news. While this app isn’t marketed towards people who want to manage their mental health, it has definitely had a positive impact on my mental health. It never fails to bring a smile to my face (even if it’s while I am on a bus into a 9am lecture).