We've heard it over and over again — social media and technology in general are making us
anxious, depressed, and ruining our self-esteem. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. But what if there were ways to use our liking and texting skills to make us feel better about ourselves? Or to make us feel like we have everything under control?
That's where the good news comes in: There are a ton of apps out there that can help you do everything from de-escalate a panic attack to remember to take your meds.
These aren't alternatives to therapy and they won't cure you of anything. But they will make the day-to-day struggles of living with a mental illness or just run-of-the-mill stress a little bit easier. With these in your pocket, you'll have new options for handling those moments when you're not feeling great. And when you
do feel better, you'll be able to see it right in front of you. Ahead, we've collected a few of our (free) favorites.
While it's not a replacement for therapy (and no app
), Sanvello (formerly known as Pacifica) incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy exercises to help make anxiety and stress a little more manageable. And if that doesn't help, it also includes a directory where you can find a therapist in your area.
Come for the adorably retro 8-bit graphics, stay for the simple yet very important daily self-care reminders. If you find yourself forgetting to do things like eat on time, drink water, or even breathe (although hopefully you can do this without the help of a scheduled push notification) then
is for you. Best of all, you can customize the days, times, and frequency of your reminders so that they're helpful, not annoying.
Have a lot on your mind? Get lost in I Love Hue's mood-soothing, visually-satisfying game based on color theory. Described as "a gentle journey into color and perception," the app is ideal for getting lost in the tranquil background music and simple yet impactful design. The app is free to download and play, but you will require an in-app game currency called Prisms (which you either buy or get for free by watching an ad) to unlock certain levels.
This immersive, comprehensive mental health tracker isn't just another beautifully-designed app — nothing wrong with that, though! Stoic gives you the tools to get through everything your day has in store — ups, downs, in-betweens — including journaling, targeted exercises to help soothe stress all through the lens of stoicism philosophy, which TL;DR: is the belief that the world is inherently unpredictable and therefore, we need to maintain a strong sense of self to navigate it to the best of our abilities.
As the name suggests, Moodpath aims to provide support and guidance for people who struggle with feelings of being overwhelmed or depressed. It's not a replacement for seeking professional help, but it can be a great, informative resource if you're beginning your mental health journey. The app works by answering daily check-in questions, which it processes into a digestible assessment that comes with helpful pointers on how to manage moods and patterns.
Everyone talks about how great
is for your mental health but if it still feels too daunting, Insight Timer is a great place to start. The app meets you where you are, whether it's your first time, or you're a pro. Plus, you can connect with plenty of other users across the world with an activity feed (though of course, meditation isn't a competition).
Ever wanted to keep a journal where you didn't have to commit to writing long entries every day? Look no further than Daylio, a micro-diary app that lets you quickly jot down your impressions about your day and easily keep track of your mood.
You can put down your emotions and activities and get a monthly mood chart that lets you see all the highs and lows you went through. The downside is that it's not super customizable, but it's perfect for anyone who just wants a quick overview of their days.
It's always best to be able to meet with a therapist face-to-face, but if you just don't have the time or would prefer to write down your thoughts, Talkspace might just be the next-best thing.
You start with a free consultation, where you'll be matched with a licensed therapist who's best equipped for what you're going through. Then, for $49 a week, you'll have somewhat unlimited access to them, meaning you can text them through the app, but some therapists will understandably have times of the day when they aren't working or responding.
Happy Not Perfect has a whopping 200+ mindful exercises that help you
practice more positivity
. You can use it as a journal, to create a daily relaxation routine, and even to send good vibes to friends on the app.
It's also got a clean, soothing interface that makes it easy to use, but one downside is that you do have to pay for a subscription ($9.99 per month) to use a lot of the features.
Not to be confused
with Whats App
, What's Up is a free app that guides you through CBT (
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
) and ACT (
Acceptance Commitment Therapy
) methods to help you cope with anxiety, stress, depression, negative thinking, and more.
Plus, it gives you the option to journal out your feelings, or even play a "grounding game" meant to keep you in the present when you're stressed out.
Remembering to take your meds is tough — until you get a little reward for it. Seriously, we’ve seen gamification of pretty much everything (hello FitBit takeover!), but rarely is it as effective as it is here. Mango Health functions as a medication reminder, but also gives you information about what you’re taking and a heads up for how it might interact with anything else in your regimen. Plus, take your meds when you’re supposed to and you’ll get those precious points, which are entrance into raffles for a chance to win actual rewards — including charity donations and gift cards to places like Starbucks.
This app comes recommended by the American Psychological Association for stress management, especially amongst those who suffer from anxiety disorders or PTSD.
Breathe2Relax guides you through breathing exercises to help with stabilizing your mood, controlling anger and managing anxiety. It's also user-friendly, and can even be personalized to fit to a pace that's best for you.
The main goal of this app is to just “feel happier,” and the
gives you plenty of options for working toward that goal. You’ll get to
choose a path
of activities that reflects what that really means for you.
You’ll start by taking a test to see where you're at and how you tend to approach tough, stressful spots in your life. Then the app will suggest a path based on your answers. To move along the path, you’ll complete gratitude exercises, do a little meditation, and learn a lot about yourself along the way.
Although there’s no substitute for real, live therapy,
can help you out when you just need someone to talk to, fast. Sign in and the app connects you with a trained counselor (or “listener”) to talk about pretty much anything. You can choose a listener based on what you’re interested in talking about or their life experience. Whether you want to chat about anxiety attacks with someone else who’s been there or you just want to vent about your boss for a few minutes, 7 Cups has your back.
We won’t lie to you, T2 Mood Tracker is the definition of “no frills.” But this tried-and-true mood tracker is a classic for a simple reason — it works. Developed by the
National Center for Telehealth and Technology
, it was originally created to help people in the military to monitor their emotional health. Since then, it’s become popular with the rest of us, too. The app will prompt you at certain times of day to tell it where you’d rate your emotional state on a variety of axes. It will also graph your progression over time so you can keep a lookout for any trends.