Recent research published by the NHS revealed that one in four adults experience a diagnosable mental health issue every year. Even more recently, the impact of the pandemic has taken its toll on many people’s mental health, not to mention the additional impact caused on our physical health too. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the pandemic has resulted in an increase in loneliness and stress amongst UK adults. Along with the crippling fear of student debt which hangs over many students as they struggle to complete university during the current circumstances, many adults are also multi-tasking working from home and homeschooling children. These additional pressures can sometimes become overwhelming and the need to prioritise our mental health has never been greater.
It is vital that anyone experiencing serious mental health issues or feelings of being depressed speaks to their GP. Talking to your GP about your mental health is often for many people struggling with their mental health the first step in speaking out about it, however it is extremely courageous to do this and you should remind yourself that you aren’t alone.
Here is a little video with some advice on ways that you can talk to your GP if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or possibly scared and don’t know how to discuss how you are feeling at the moment.
Although speaking to your GP is definitely the first point of call that we would recommend, there are also some apps which you can download on your phone to help you access resources from the NHS and provide you with ways to teach yourself how to manage your mental health better.
Given that the average adult spends three and a quarter hours a day using their smartphone, with the top twenty percent of people spending over four and a half hours (according to research from RescueTime), perhaps we could invest more time in using apps to strengthen our mental health and help educate ourselves on ways to create solutions to some of our problems which we face on daily basis rather than spend endless hours scrolling?
Head of Information at the mental health charity MIND Stephen Buckley highlights that it’s important ‘to think of mental health apps as complimentary, rather than a replacement of “real world” mental health issues’.
We have put together some apps which you can use to help reduce the time you spend on apps such as Instagram and Facebook. We’ve come up with the top five apps which are great for boosting your mood and will help you to feel more positive especially whilst working from home.
Listening to music is an incredible way to instantly feel uplifted and positive! Whether you love listening to the best pop hits, creating personalised playlists or enjoy listening to podcasts, Spotify offers a variety of options. By listening to music, you will feel more motivated to finish your work.
Camille from Harmoni uses Spotify, she says that, “It's just the perfect way for me to unload after a big day of work or when I'm taking a few breaks throughout the day. I have a different playlist to match my mood and I love that!”
In fact, music can subconsciously alter the way we think without us even knowing; helping us to keep creative ideas flowing. Moreover, studies show that eleven to twenty percent of people who work from home are more productive when performing creative tasks. Work efficiently by keeping your mind engaged and feel more motivated and inspired!
ThinkUp is a positive affirmations app which provides daily positive mantras to help you improve your mental health, and thus work more effectively and efficiently. Research shows that hearing positive affirmations in your own voice helps to make them ten times more effective! Positive mantras repeated daily through simple phrases such as ‘I am calm’ and ‘I am worthy’ are simple steps you can take to help reduce negative emotions and feelings. This will help you to overcome any obstacles that prevent you getting over the next hurdle.
Additionally, positive affirmations can help to strengthen nerve connections, increase your flexibility and adaptability. Several studies have shown that the brain is unable to differentiate between a memory that is real, and one that is visualised. This is really powerful as it means that by visualising your success, you can help yourself to overcome any fears and build up your self-confidence without actually having experienced the event.
Visualisation is a great tool as it means that you will perform really well under pressure and will feel less stressed.
Do you get easily distracted looking on the internet when you should be working? Do you find that as the day goes on you become increasingly tempted to check your Facebook and Instagram when you should be working?
Getcoldturkey is the app that you need to help you switch off digitally, and focus more on the here and now. This app allows you to temporarily block distracting apps and websites from your desktop so that even if you do feel tempted, the option is no longer there! So many of us spend hours scrolling through our phones, and it doesn’t take too much research to know that this isn’t helping our mental health. In fact given the quote that “we become what we think”, how is comparing and idolising other people really going to help us become better versions of ourselves? With Getcoldturkey, you can study better, block any distractions, and boost your productivity.
Christoph from Harmoni loves using this app! He says that it helps to create a “clean separation between work and free time. It prevents me from overworking in the home office and from procrastinating during work time!”
The app OFFTIME allows you to unplug from the digital world and focus on the present. You can help to reduce your digital footprint by working on the relationship you have with your phone and technology devices. By unplugging from the digital world, you will feel a better sense of value for the people and things in your life that you care about, and will also be able to focus more on your friendships in real life, rather than communicating through your phone.
Offtime also asks you to question, “When was the last time you spent time thinking about what you would like to do with your life, in the future, and if you are prioritising the ones you love over your phone. It’s hard, right?”
Christoph from Harmoni believes the app is really useful. He says there are many benefits as it “gives me a healthy notification diet, and also means I am not being pestered by meaningless social media all day long!”
By focusing less on your phone, and more on the immediate people in your life, you too will feel better connected and more intrinsically in tune with yourself and your emotions. By switching off from your phone you will also develop better communication skills, learning how to better communicate how you are feeling with other people rather than relying on doing this digitally when you are not required to be as present, or your authentic self.
Sanvello is an app which aims to make the mental health system more connected and effective. With over three million users, Sanvello has been voted the number one app for stress, anxiety and depression. Users of the app check in regularly with their mood and can easily track their health activities such as their sleep patterns and exercise habits.
Through guided journeys designed by experts, users can access therapy to help them overcome any struggles they are going through, and recognise ways in which they can improve their current state of mind. By rating their mood regularly, users are given resources and tools which are suggested to them to help improve their mood. Sanvello also creates a ‘roadmap for improvement’, allowing users to track their progress and set regular goals for themselves each week!
As we all continue to adapt to working from home, it is increasingly important to look after our mental wellbeing, and also to check in on our friends and family. Given that more than sixty percent of Americans report feeling significant stress on a daily basis (according to a Gallup poll in March, 2020), there are certain things we can do throughout the day to help ourselves. Apps such as Spotify and Getcoldturkey allow us to switch off from our mobile phones, and lose ourselves in some upbeat pop music or podcast - whichever takes your fancy! So however you are feeling today, be sure to be kind to yourself and listen to your emotions. Switch off from social media and do something you enjoy, whether that is exercise (which helps to release endorphins), listening to music or something creative, you’ll thank us later!
Mental Health Resources
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (9am to midnight, every day of the year)
STONEWALLMental health support and resources for LGBT people.
Please see the list of resources published by the NHS here for further information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
‘Best Mental Health Apps’ <https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/consumer-advice/technology/a29756282/mental-health-apps>
‘What Should I Say to My GP’ <https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/talking-to-your-gp/>
‘Shock! Horror! Do you know how much time you spend on your phone?’ <https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/21/cellphone-screen-time-average-habits>
‘Mental Health’ <https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/>
‘6 Ways to Relieve Stress Naturally’ <http://www.justinmanning.com.advisor.news/6-ways-relieve-stress-naturally/?c=eyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJub2RlX2lkIjoyNDA2OCwicHJldmlldyI6ZmFsc2UsImNvbW1faWQiOjI5MjM4MjYsImRlc3RfaWQiOjM5NjgyOTgsInJlYWRlcl9pZCI6bnVsbH0.tbgSoEhp7h0J8w-dJKCZRmdWvaLG7C8smFQItag1Tx0>
‘Get Support From a Mental Health Charity’ <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/>
‘STONEWALL’ <https://www.stonewall.org.uk/> <https://www.stonewall.org.uk/category/mental-health>