How can we use technology to better our mental health?
I’m sure many would agree that this year has taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. We’ve not been able to do the things we’ve wanted to do, not been able to see the people we’ve wanted to see and perhaps not achieved the things we were hoping to achieve this year.
For Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re talking about the technology we use to manage and improve our mental health.
Mindfulness can take a bit of getting used to before you can really reap the benefits, but guided meditation can definitely help stop your mind from wandering. Whether your goal is to sleep better, focus better or worry less, guided meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm are an excellent place to start.
When your work is done for the day, switch off! The built in Digital Wellness feature on Android* phones can really help with this. With this feature, you’re able to set time limits on app usage, you can enable Focus Mode, which will remind you that you shouldn’t be checking certain apps at certain times and also a wind down feature which will come on at a time of your choosing and will change your screen to greyscale and mute calls, alerts and other sounds. Nobody needs to be checking Slack at 11pm; it can wait until the morning.
*Downtime and Time Limits are also available on iOS.
Whether you’re into crushing candy, flinging birds at pigs or crafting intricate block mines, we’ve probably all played a game on our phones at some point in our lives. When you’ve been in back-to-back meetings all morning, sometimes picking up your phone and completing a couple of levels of a puzzle game can really help you destress for a bit.
CheckPoint, a mental health charity for gamers, asked it’s community if they believed videogames had benefited them either emotionally or psychologically and a whopping 88.4% of people said yes.
Nature Sounds/ White Noise
Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School discovered that playing nature sounds positively affects the part of the brain responsible for rest. When we think of relaxation, we think of long strolls in the countryside, sitting around a campfire in the peak of summer or those cosy rainy Saturday mornings spent cuddled up in bed. Nature sounds, such as birds chirping, a crackling fire and rain on a window can take us back to those relaxing moments and bring our stress levels back down.
Mood trackers don’t need to be too complex and they don’t even need to be app based if you feel more comfortable using spreadsheets or journaling. All you need to record is the date, how you’re feeling (either on a scale from 1-10 or an emotion you’re feeling) and a quick note or tag to explain what you’ve been doing which may contribute to the way you’re feeling. After a month or two, you might see that you’re rating your mood at a 2 or 3 on the days after you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine in the evening or you might find you feel your best after going for a run. This will help you change your habits so that you’re doing more of the things that make you feel good and fewer of the things that made you feel bad.
Search “Mood Tracker” in the app store, and you’ll be shown hundreds of apps to help you keep on top of your mood.