Good anxiety apps and sites you need to know about

At the back of my new book first, we make the beast beautiful, I promised to share on my site a list of some top apps and sites for anxiety. This is that list. 

It’s a simple list because I personally don’t rely on such tech things heavily. For some context it’s worth noting that very few studies have been done on the efficacy of apps for anxiety, despite large organisations endorsing them in the face of decreasing funding for mental health services around the world. An Australian study found only eight scientific papers had been done on any mental health app anywhere in the world.

Despite this, there are thousands of commercially available apps claiming to target mental health. I reckon many of them would certainly play a very constructive role in modulating anxious symptoms for many…but it’s a matter of trying them for yourself. Some are great for building good new muscles. To put this list together I consulted experts and you, dear readers, for suggestions.

Meditation help

* Insight Timer. With more than 3000 meditations to choose from, Insight Timer is the top free meditation app on Android and iOS.  

* Smiling Mind. A not-for-profit organisation that works to make mindfulness meditation accessible to all. The (free) Smiling Mind guided meditation app has reached 1.5 million people worldwide.

Headspace. (Get the premium version.) Has a free 10-day introduction that consists of 10-minute segments that teach the basic concepts of meditation through cartoons and videos. 

Calm. Teaches you the basic techniques of meditation through a free, guided program. Calm has a free 7-day trial.

Mindfulness Daily. If you’re looking for shorter meditation options, most of their meditations are under five minutes. They offer a 21-day trial.

Lifestyle and insomnia

* Silo. Thrive Global’s new app that turns your smartphone into a dumbphone, which allows you to disconnect with the world and connect with your own thoughts.

* The world’s most relaxing song. Listen to this.

* Favourite songs to lull anxiety. A compilation on my site. Including the top ten list as compiled by a bunch of boffins from the British Academy of Sound Therapy.

* Sleepstream. Sound therapy app which plays soothing sounds, including binaural beats which slow your brain waves for sleep, deep sleep or meditation.

* My Calm Beat. A brain exercise that helps improve your ability to manage stress through slow breathing. Slow breathing allows you to increase the variability of your heart rate to decrease stress, improve focus and build resilience. 

* Yoga Nidra. Deep breathing relaxation practice app.  It’s a highly effective stress management tool and can also be used before sleep to manage insomnia.

* Pacifica. Tracks your moods (among other things) and aids anxiety, stress management in general. Good for people who love to track!

* Heart Math. An inner balance app, based on research from Macquarie University. Technology analyses and displays your heart rhythm, which indicates how your emotions are affecting your nervous system. And then trains you to self-generate a highly efficient physiological state called HRV coherence, which helps increase emotional composure and clearer reasoning. A few minutes of daily coherence practice has been shown to reduce and prevent the negative effects of stress, such as overwhelm, fatigue and exhaustion, sleep disruption, anxiety and burnout.

* Sleep With Me podcast. My brother Ben recommends this. He says: “It’s great. I’ve developed a bit of an immunity to it now, though. So instead I listen to Phillip Adams on RN. It’s either an obscure topic that puts you to sleep, or, if not, something interesting so I don’t mind being awake.” [This is very classic Ben – Sarah.]

Anxiety communities

* The Lives of Others. A platform that allows people to represent their experiences with mental health in an honest, safe and nurturing environment, participating in changing the way we see mental health.

* PTSD Coach app. This free app can be used to learn more about PTSD, track symptoms and set up a support network of friends and family members. The app also provides strategies for coping with overwhelming emotions; it might suggest that users distract themselves by finding a funny video on YouTube or lead users through visualisation exercises.

* The MightyCollates reads from writers with various anxious disorders. They do some great crowd-sourced posts that share what various anxious souls feel about everything from getting through grocery stores to living with chronic fatigue.

For kids and teens

Stop, Breathe & Think. Largely directed at children and teenagers. You plug in your mood – angry, anxious, disgusted – and the app suggests one of 15 free meditations and others that you can pay to download. You get rewarded with virtual stickers for meditating several days in a row, or completing a certain number of minutes.

* Cloud Guy. Also for kids, this meditation is available until September on the Smiling Mind app. The concept is that your favourite movie, book characters voice a meditation created specifically about that character to make meditation fun for kids. I met the young girl who designed it when we both appeared on Today EXTRA on Channel 9 a little while back. Access it here on Smiling Mind.

What would you add to the list? Any sites or apps you swear by? 

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