It can be easy to get caught up in the overwhelming nature of the world. However, even in the best moments, it is important to remember to look after one’s mental health. A frustrating time can be a setback.
For the past two years, I have looked to meditation and other relaxation activities as a way to feel centered and calm down after a rough day. I have tried multiple apps to track and aid in my journey of improving my mental health and have found some to be helpful.
Paying for apps is a deterrent for me, and likely others, so the ones I am recommending are free to download. While some have in-app purchases, I find the free features alone make them worth it.
Here are some of my recommendations for apps geared toward relaxation and mental wellness:
Oak - Meditation & Breathing
This simplistic app offers different meditation exercises depending on the main goal of the person practicing them. From breathing exercises to guided meditations, there are multiple options for different purposes.
I think the “mindful” meditation in particular is helpful, as it helps you learn how to clear your mind and focus. This app also tracks progress based on how many exercises are completed, with various stages from “grasshopper” to “mountain” representing how often the app is used.
stoic. mental health journal
This app provides prompts for journal entries revolving around subjects such as gratitude, future plans and daily summaries. These entries are saved in the app and tracked by day, along with all other activities within the app.
There are also sections for guided breathing exercises, inspirational quotes and visualization. The “thoughts” exercise is useful for breaking down negative thoughts and learning methods to rationalize or overcome them.
The clean layout makes stoic. appealing to the eye as well as easy to use.
Ladder: Mental Health Tracker
Ladder is a goal-setting app that allows you to track habits you would like to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine. These can be set to just be visible in the app or to send a notification at specified times.
New habits are recommended based on intended goals, such as increasing happiness or boosting productivity. Choosing one of these will show a list of habits that coincide with these goals.
This app also includes creative meditation exercises and articles about mental health issues and how to cope with them. Ambient sounds are another feature that can be set at a timer and played for purposes such as sleeping and focusing during work.
This app is offered free through IU when using student login information. When using the app through IU, the settings are customized especially for students and include resources for help at the university.
WellTrack offers wellness assessments based on a series of questions about experiences related to mental health functioning. These assessments then provide ratings on depression, anxiety and stress. While not definitive, they can be helpful for recognizing how extreme any of these states have become in recent days.
There are also courses available in the app that discuss the definitions of certain mental health topics and methods for coping with them.
Cove: music for mental health
Cove is a unique spin on a mental health wellness app. Rather than meditation, users can create calming music to correspond with mood.
Upon opening, the “create new” option at the top prompts you to identify your current feelings to begin creating a variety of beats to match these feelings. After making the song, it can be saved and played on repeat for relaxation.
While unconventional, I find the process of making the simple melodies to be distracting from other stressors.