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Mental Health Apps to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety

The confinement measures put in place, to flatten the curve and limit the propagation of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), have affected almost every aspect of our daily lives, and our mental health is no exception. Each individual is affected by the quarantine to different extents.


A study titled: The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it, published in The Lancet, explains that ‘mass social isolation is likely to result in mental health difficulties for a considerable number of people’. With the study highlighting the numerous adverse effects of being quarantined, such as: ‘emotional disturbance, depression, stress, difficulty sleeping, low mood, irritability and anger’.

After establishing some of the possible psychological impacts of confinement, this article will now explore various techniques and tools that will help you take care of your mental health and manage this situation as best as you can.

Having difficulty adapting?

Don’t worry if you are having or had difficulty adapting to the confinement measures. According to the British Psychological Society, it can take up to 10 days to adapt to a new situation. They recommend establishing a routine as quickly as possible, as this facilitates ‘a sense of control’ and the uncertainty of an indefinite period of confinement, by adding structure to each day.

Here is a selection of apps that will help improve your productivity and concentration and allow you to create daily goals, whilst at the same time, organising your day, for example Todolist. In this second article you will find specific guidance if you are struggling to work from home during this period of confinement.

Feeling Anxious and Stressed?

As (Smith & Barrett) explain, “the uncertainty of not knowing what lies ahead, especially in times of adversity, can lead to feelings of anxiety and fear”. The Coronavirus quarantine differs from other situations of confinement, in that for the most part, we do not know when the quarantine will end. As such it is difficult to project beyond the end of confinement, and ultimately we can become anxious about the future.

Here is a selection of apps that can help with feelings of anxiety and stress:

Mind Shift

Despite Mind Shift being an app designed for people with anxiety, it can also help people with mood disorders and insomnia. This app contains a number of mindfulness strategies, with mindfulness being defined as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally (Jon Kabat-Zinn). From the mindful breathing exercises to a 9-minute meditation, this app can help you become more aware of your body and how you feel.

Mind Shift can be downloaded for Android devices here, and for iOS here.

Calm

Calm is quickly becoming regarded as one of the best mental health apps. Similar to Mind Shift, it is aimed at people experiencing stress and anxiety and the app offers guided meditation, breathing programs and mindfulness exercises.


For more information about Calm, click here.

Chillpanda

Chillpanda is on the NHS’s list of recommended mental health apps. This is catered towards younger children, but can also be used by adults. It aims to help you to relax, manage your worries and improve your wellbeing. The app measures your heart rate and suggests activities relevant to your state of mind, such as breathing techniques and light exercise.



Chillpanda is available to download for Android and iOS devices.

Feeling Lonely?

During this period of confinement and social isolation it is important to maintain social links with your friends and family, however if you live on your own this is slightly more difficult to do, however these apps to make free video calls will help you stay in touch.



Even if you are not physically alone at home, sometimes people can mentally distance themselves as a manner of coping with a difficult situation. It is important to be aware that"living in close proximity with the same people for long periods of time can be stressful". According to Smith & Barrett, people should develop"an area of personal space, a place where someone can retreat to in times of frustration."

Confinement can also exacerbate pre-existing tensions, this can be seen with the rise in domestic violence cases. You can read more about this here.

Feeling Blue?

During this period of quarantine and social isolation, it is almost inevitable that at some point people will experience feelings of low mood, a lack of motivation, and possibly depression. Smith & Barrett explain that knowing it is “perfectly normal for mood and motivation to ebb and flow and that there will be some good days and some days” is comforting. Their advice is to find a ”sense of purpose”. For some this is work, for others this can be “finding a passion project” to spend time on. In addition, keeping a journal (written, visual, voice) offers people “a cathartic route to express their feelings”. All of these activities aim to keep a sense of control and order in people’s daily lives.


Here are a few articles which contain a wide range of activities to keep you busy:

Important: If you or anyone that you know is struggling with feelings of depression, it is important to know that there are people ready to help.

Speak to Someone

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or just want to speak to someone, please contact the Samaritans (116 123) in the UK and The Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) in the US.

Calm Harm

Calm Harm is recommended by the NHS. It is an app designed to help people resist, or manage the urge to self-harm. It is private and password protected.



You can download Calm Harm for Android here and for iOS here.

Exercise & Meditation

According to Smith & Barrett, where possible it is important to build an exercise routine as an “effective way of counteracting feelings of monotony and boredom and reducing feelings of stress”. In complement to this, studies have shown that exercise is linked to improved mental health.



If you are legally allowed to go outdoors for exercise, then do so solo, or with the other members of your “quaran-team”, for the allowed amount of time. Even if this is just for 20 minutes, the combination of fresh air, exercise and sunshine will do wonders for your mental health and personal wellbeing. However, outdoor exercise is not a possibility for everyone. As such, we have plenty of exercises and physical activities that can be done at home to help improve your mental health.

Feeling tired?

If you are having trouble sleeping because you are stressed, anxious and worrying about the Coronavirus, the above meditation exercises and apps should help to relieve your anxiety. Another possible reason for increased difficulty sleeping is that people are spending more time in front of screens, be that mobile devices, televisions or laptops, and as a result are exposing themselves to more blue light late into the evening.



It may be a good idea to install a blue light filter onto your device. You can download Flux here for your laptop, Android and iOS devices. It is designed to adjust the intensity of your screen and reduce the amount of blue light you are exposed to.

A similar app for Android users is Nightmode, blue light filter. If you are an iPhone user, you can go into your Settings and go to Display & Brightness, here you can enable Night Shift.

Summary

Hopefully this article will have been able to help you take care of your mental health during this difficult period, with some excellent apps, articles and tutorials. Stay safe and stay healthy!

If you want to read the full article from The British Psychological Society, you can do so here.

Photo credit: Unsplash
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