I recently shared my 5 tips for avoiding stress which I know from your feedback you found helpful. Over the past few months I’ve been taking a look at apps that claim to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of our mental health with mindfulness techniques, guided meditations and exercises.
The 3 apps I’m sharing with you today are free and my favourites. If used consistently I believe they can help you towards living that stress free life.
Changing mindset and effecting long term improvements takes a lot of work. We need time to create new ‘rituals’ and new ways of thinking. Every time you do an exercise it strengthens those neural pathways and interestingly, science supports the benefits of a daily 15-20 minute practise. Brain scans reveal visible changes to the structure of the brain with a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional regulation. Your dedication will pay off.
Of course these ‘portable coaches’ are no substitute for professional intervention and I would urge you to seek professional help. I also think it’s important to talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling.
Bliss is a collection of exercises which have been shown to create long-lasting improvements in happiness, motivation, resilience, life-satisfaction, and a host of other positive mental traits.
Exercises can be done in any order or any frequency based on your own needs. Some exercises (ie; Three Good Things) can be done every day, others (ie; Best Possible Future) you might only want to complete every few weeks. Get into a routine that works for YOU. Examples are given as a guide.
“With consistent effort over time you really can become a happier, more positive person.”
Two of my favourite exercises:
- Sometimes it may feel like it’s impossible to keep that positive vibe going in your work environment. Meaning in Work helps you transform the way you view your work. (It’s all about perspective isn’t it!). By focusing on the people you help and the skills you master you transform your work from a job into a calling. How does the work you do help others? What unique skills and strengths can you use in your work? What opportunities for learning does your work give you?
- One of the techniques we use at school is to focus on the positives rather than the problem. Three Good Things trains your brain to focus on the positive. As you continue to do this you will notice your mind becoming more aware of the positive things in your life. Being positive brings psychological benefits and helps you to become the best possible version of yourself. I think it’s good to do this exercise last thing at night, reflecting on the day just ended.
My least favourite:
- I don’t think focussing on a time in your life when things went wrong is helpful, especially if you’re feeling low. However, you might think differently to me! Could be Worse – is said to make you happier by readjusting your brain’s mental baseline. By identifying how much worse your life could be you gain a renewed sense of gratitude for how lucky you are. Identify a few times in your life when you were lucky or were helped by others. What could have gone wrong? What could have happened that didn’t? What opportunities could have been missed?
Best Possible Future – Imagine your life several years in the future where everything has gone well, you’ve achieved everything and you’re feeling totally fulfilled. Describe that life using all your senses.
Gratitude Exercise – What are you grateful for? (Do this daily instead of a gratitude journal).
Honouring People – Pick a specific person you’re grateful for and write what it is about that person you appreciate the most. This trains your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your relationships and ultimately strengthens that relationship.
Transforming Problems – takes the most troubling things in your life and transforms them into motivation.
“the way we think about our circumstances is a choice.”
Identify the single problem that is troubling you most. How is the problem an opportunity for growth? What new skills could it help you to develop?
Savouring – Train your brain to focus on daily pleasures by repeating this exercise. Set aside 10 minutes for an activity that you enjoy … favourite food, cup of coffee, shower, a walk. Remove all distractions. Bring your attention to your senses, how many different sensations can you detect? Use your senses. Write a short paragraph as if you were selling the experience to someone else.
A Canadian initiative created for teens and young adults to cope with anxiety, however I think it has value for adults too.
MindShift will help you learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help you take charge of your anxiety. This app includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to tackle:
- Coping with test anxiety
- Tackling social fears
- Facing performance anxiety
- Dealing with conflict
- Taking charge of panic
- Letting go of perfectionism
There are 6 steps to each area:
Intro step 1, The Facts, Check yourself, Make a plan; Step 2 Facts; Step 3 Check yourself; Step 4 Helpful thoughts and star the ones you want to remember; Step 5 chill out tools; Step 6 Active steps strategies and star the ones you want to try.
- The inspirational quotes
- Chill out tools
Chill out tools – I think it’s fabulous that you can choose from a male or female voice.
Relaxation exercises – Tense and Release 9 minutes. Calm breathing 3 minutes
Visualisations – Mental Vacation 5 minutes, Confidence builder – test anxiety 6 minutes, Confidence builder – social anxiety 7 minutes, Public Speaking – 4 minutes. My favourite visualisation is Out of this world – 5 minutes.
Mindfulness – Body scan 8 minutes, Mindful breathing 3 minutes
Language in the Anxiety 101 section is at the level for the intended audience but you might find something you didn’t know! What is anxiety? What’s going on when I’m anxious? The Anxiety Triangle What is the fight=flight=freeze response? When does anxiety become a problem? Where does anxiety come from? What can I do about anxiety? Why not stay away from things you’re afraid of? How can I overcome my fear?
Lite version is Free
This app is the multimedia version of the book ‘Mindfulness : The Art of Being Human.’ There is a simple guide on what mindfulness is, how mindfulness is practised and some tips and tools for everyday living.
I love the bite sized sections and in the lite version, two audio tracks.
It’s broken down into two sections:
Experience – practical – *Guided meditations (in the lite version) – Mindful check in (9 minutes) Mindfulness of the Breath (10 mins)
Knowledge – insights into the human mind and behaviour.
I think the Challenge is brilliant! Practise 8 days for 10 minutes a day and you will feel the benefits.
*Full version 8 guided mindfulness tracks, extra exercises, tools and 8 Day 20 minute challenge costs only £2.52
I have one ‘go to’ guided meditation that I’ve used since 2004 and recommend to anyone and everyone (even my 20 year old uses it) which is Glenn Harrold’s Complete Relaxation.
Whilst it’s not an app it is audio … it uses hypnotherapy techniques and digital recording technology. It really does guide you into a completely relaxed state of mind and body. At the end of the tracks there are hypnotic suggestions to help you cope with the pressures of modern day life with composure and with a new sense of inner calm. It works for me everytime.
What’s your favourite app for de-stressing?
What tools and resources do you use?