10 Best Anti-Anxiety Apps That Will Help You De-Stress
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017
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Pounding heart, dry mouth, sweaty palms. While nervous jitters before a job interview or first date are common, many people suffer from severe anxiety every day, disrupting daily life and impacting their ability to connect with others. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are the most common kind of mental illness, affecting 40 million adults in the United States alone. They range from obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder to panic attacks and general anxiety. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment due to lack of available services, cost or the perceived stigma of seeking help. Fortunately, a wave of anti-anxiety apps are available to help those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, giving them support in the palm of their hands.
Just launched this month, the new Mindsail app targets millennials looking to manage their emotions and improve their mental health. The app offers bite-sized lessons from more than two dozen experts on topics relating to relationships, health, work, stress and more. These self-paced programs include coaching from experts in the field, meditations and breathing exercises. For those wanting a more personal connection with the experts, users can submit specific questions to be answered and see those already submitted by the Mindsail community. In addition to the multilesson programs, Mindsail also offers mini Moodboosts that provide short but substantive tips to help you quickly handle negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety and insecurity. PRICE: The app and first month are free; then it’s $5.99 a month.
Related: Meet the Female Game Changers in Health and Wellness
Meditation and other mindfulness techniques have been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress and improve overall wellness. Launched in 2002, Headspace is one of the world’s leading meditation apps, with more than 10 million users worldwide. Start with Headspace’s Take10, a free introductory series of 10 guided meditations and animated videos that introduce you to the foundations of meditating in just 10 minutes a day. Then choose a meditation series that focuses on the issues that matter most to you, such as performance, relationships or health. Or use Headspace’s SOS mini sessions to ward off an impending meltdown. PRICE: The app and 10 introductory meditations are free; then it’s $12.99 per month.
Related: More info on Headspace — and where to find it
When panic hits, your breathing and heart rate can quickly spike. The Inner Balance app works in conjunction with a wearable sensor to help you learn how to monitor and control your physical reactions to anxiety and stress. The goal of the app is to improve your coherence — when the heart, brain and nervous system become balanced and synchronized. According to the app developers, “synchronizing your breathing with your heart rhythms while focusing on positive emotions has been shown to reduce the negative effects of stress, improve relaxation and build resilience.” Keep in mind that the wearable sensor is not designed to be worn all the time — just during daily training sessions. PRICE: Free; sensor $129.
Related: More info on Inner Balance — and where to find it
Self-Help for Anxiety Management
SELF-HELP FOR ANXIETY MANAGEMENT
Recommended by the ADAA, the Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM) app takes a holistic view by helping sufferers learn about anxiety, track symptoms and collect a toolkit of tips and techniques for dealing with the disorder. The app also provides a range of physical and mental activities to deal with anxiety and a closed social network of fellow SAM users for additional support. PRICE: Free
Related: More info on Self-Help for Anxiety Management — and where to find it
Targeted towards adolescents, teens and young adults, the MindShift app helps users learn about and manage the symptoms of various anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, perfectionism, performance anxiety, specific phobias and panic attacks. The app’s strengths lie in its active coping strategies tailored to the type of anxiety along with a variety of methods to manage it, including breathing exercises, mental imagery and mindfulness strategies. Instructions are provided in both text and audio formats, and users can save their favorite anxiety-reducing techniques for quick access. PRICE: Free.
Related: More info on MindShift — and where to find it
If you find worry consuming your day and leading to anxiety, the Worry Watch app may help. The app provides a password-protected journal for logging your worried thoughts. You'll also be able to label each worry into categories; track the outcomes; and analyze charts and graphs that highlight various factors — such as people and events — that might be causing your anxiety. PRICE: $1.99.
Related: More info on Worry Watch — and where to find it
Pacifica combines cognitive behavioral therapy with relaxation and wellness techniques to help you track, understand and lessen your anxiety. The app allows users to rate and write about their moods throughout the day, set goals and track health activities like exercise, sleep and caffeine intake. Users can also learn deep-breathing techniques, behavioral exercises and guided meditations specifically designed for anxiety to identify negative thinking patterns and replace them with positive ones. PRICE: Free.
Related: More info on Pacifica — and where to find it
The Panic Relief app is designed to provide users with specific, practical techniques to use in the middle of a panic attack. The free version includes access to the “progressive muscle relaxation of the arm” skill, while the upgrade allows access to the rest of the skills, including the CBT technique of square breathing, diaphragmatic breathing and a visualization exercise. The app provides direct instruction on how to perform the techniques as well as short animations demonstrating each one. PRICE: Free.
Related: More info on Panic Relief — and where to get it
Not into mediation? Roll your eyes at deep-breathing exercises? The Happify app wants to make improving your mental outlook a bit more fun. This app relies on a collection of science-based quizzes, games and activities designed to remove stress, reframe your thinking and help you create a more positive outlook on life. Choose from more than 30 different topics for improvement — from conquering negative thoughts to coping better with stress to building self-confidence — and then complete a range of fun activities and earn medals for your accomplishments. PRICE: Free.
Related: More info on Happify — and where to get it
Another app recommended by the ADAA, MoodKit uses the principles and techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and anger. The MoodKit Activities tool offers more than 200 different activities to help reduce negative feelings and enhance well-being. The Thought Checker helps you to manage and modify negative feelings related to specific situations. MoodKit also has a Mood Tracker and journal feature to help you better track and understand your feelings. PRICE: $6.99.
Related: More info on Moodkit — and where to get it
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you ever used an app to help with anxiety and mindfulness? What's your favorite app for managing anxiety? What other techniques do you use to manage your anxiety?
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