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Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US, but fortunately, there are many ways to treat it. Find out which apps can help you manage your anxiety.
When it comes to anxiety, there’s good news and bad news.
Let’s start with the bad news first: According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults over the age of 18. The good news is, however, that anxiety disorders are highly treatable.
Now here’s another set of bad news/good news: While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of people suffering actually receive treatment.
The reasons why people don’t seek treatment for anxiety disorders are many: Fear of social stigma, not realizing that help is available, actual anxiety about doctors, and more.
But before you get too bummed out, let’s not forget that there is still some good news. The good news is that there are more options than ever to help people manage their anxiety and get control of their lives. What’s more, these options can fit into the palm of your hand.
Yes, we’re talking about anxiety apps, or rather, apps that can help you cope with and manage your anxiety. Not only are these apps readily available whenever you need, but using them also means that you don’t need to go to a doctor and don’t need to face any social stigma.
Managing Anxiety Using Meditation
Meditation has been studied for years, with the research sometimes showing different results. However, most modern studies have found that meditation is, in fact, an effective way to manage anxiety, stress relief, and other mental health issues.
When you use meditation to combat anxiety, you are forced to slow down and take a break from running to various obligations. That slowing down, even if just for a few minutes, can be just the thing you need to restore your focus and gain perspective.
There are different kinds of meditation: Mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, meditation combined with breathing exercises, and meditation exercises that focus on different themes in your life, like sleep, stress, acceptance, and more.
Pacifica, Headspace, Calm, and Happify all offer various types of meditation exercises, as well as complementary tools like relaxation techniques, mood tracking, and more. You can decide which one is right for you by checking out the exact kind of meditation each offers and the combination of anxiety-fighting tools each comes with.
Managing Anxiety Through Healthy Sleep
It seems that with each passing year, more and more doctors and scientists are realizing just how big a role sleep plays in our physical and mental health. But sleep and anxiety have a somewhat complicated relationship. While getting enough sleep can help reduce anxiety, anxiety sometimes makes it hard to fall asleep! So it’s a self-perpetuating cycle, unless you decide to do something about it.
Fortunately, doing something about it can be as simple as downloading an app. Relax Melodies and Calm are two apps that provide different kinds of sleep assistance like relaxing sounds, white noise, even stories to help you fall asleep. While Relax Melodies is all about relaxing music and sounds, Calm offers sleep help along with mindfulness meditation and other techniques.
Managing Anxiety Through Breathing and Other Tools
While breathing is an important part of meditation, breathing exercises can also act as an anxiety-reducer on their own. Meditation can often require you to focus on a certain subject or clear your mind, but during breathing exercises, all you need to focus on is the physical act of breathing.
Breathing exercises are effective in reducing anxiety because they address the physical component of it. While it’s usually our thoughts that stress us out, the stress manifests in physical symptoms, namely, an increased heart rate. Breathing slowly has been proven to slow down your heart rate, which results in decreased anxiety and stress.
If this appeals to you, you can check out Breathe2Relax, an app that focuses on diaphragmatic breathing, or Pacifica and What’s Up?, which offer breathing exercises among other tools and exercises.
If breathing isn’t your thing, there are other apps you can try. Perhaps you’re someone who works things out through writing; in that case, Worry Watch is a good option. It’s an app that helps you beat anxiety by making you write out your worries, along with what actually happened. The premise is that once you see that many of your worries don’t come to fruition, you can more easily control your negative thoughts, give them less credence, and empower yourself through positive thinking.
Self-help Anxiety Management (SAM) is an app that helps you reduce anxiety through knowledge; when you sign up for SAM, you’ll get access to 25 self-help options that cover information about anxiety, including mental and physical relaxation, health, thoughts, and more. The information also comes along with guidance for putting the information into practice, but in all, SAM is more of a passive app than an active one. Still, this may be all you need.
Anxiety Management for Teens
Teens often experience the same anxiety that adults feel, only worse, because everything is magnified by teenage angst. And some of the typical anxiety apps require you to be 18 or older in order to use, which can leave teens out in the cold when it comes to learning to manage their anxiety.
Fortunately, there’s Mindshift, an app specifically geared toward the teen and young adult population and designed to help them face and beat age-specific anxiety and other issues. Mindshift aims to give teens and young adults the tools to beat different types of anxiety, like test or social, and sleep issues, intense emotions, perfectionism, worry, panic, conflict, and more.
Anxiety versus Anxiety Disorders
A word of caution when dealing with anxiety management: There is anxiety, and there are anxiety disorders. Regular anxiety is normal and can be controlled by positive thinking, meditation, mindfulness, and many of the other tools included in the anxiety apps mentioned above.
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are a real mental illness that should be treated by a licensed psychologist or therapist. In some cases, treatment can be medication; in others, it’s tools and techniques like the ones offered by anxiety apps. In many cases, it’s a combination. Whatever it is, if you have a serious anxiety disorder, it’s important to seek medical guidance and not rely solely on anxiety apps.
However, anxiety apps do serve a purpose, whether you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder or face daily anxiety that you’d like to get a handle on. And because there are so many apps with different focuses and niches, you can choose the one that speaks most to you.