smartphone apps & computer software for coping

Hello!
I know it has been a while since I’ve blogged here, especially regularly – my mental and especially physical health has been pretty terrible for a while, and on top of that I am getting ready to move into a new apartment in mid September. I’ll totally do my best to update you guys on all kinds of things going on in my life in another post soon, but for now, I really want to share some resources with you, specifically some of the apps, and software I have found to be very helpful in coping with my mental illness. Some of these programs and apps have adds, but none of them are extremely intrusive or stressful advertisements in my experience.
Many of these apps and programs are free, and the ones that aren’t are low-cost! I’ve suggested free and low-cost apps/software both because I don’t have the extra money to spend on expensive software and also because a lot of mentally ill people (and people in general!) don’t either. I think that the majority of these could be helpful to neurotypical people as well, especially if they struggle with stress or insomnia, for example. I’m very excited to share these with you since any tools to help someone cope can make a huge difference in their life!
I will note that while some of these may be helpful to mental health professionals, this post is aimed at people who are struggling themselves. I also want to mention that not a single one of these companies/programs/etc has sponsored me, and everything I write here is my own honest opinion. Some of these apps are for iphones only and not on android and so unfortunately won’t be accessible to everyone, even everyone with a smartphone. There are also some browser extensions that are very useful, but since I don’t currently use any of them I don’t want to recommend them here, yet. I will, however, mention that if you have difficulty with viewing gifs or autoplay music/audio while browsing the internet, there are multiple extensions to help with both of those – extensions to not allow any music to autoplay, and extensions to stop gifs from displaying and/or animating.
I’ll start with the software section, because so far I’ve only found one program that is helpful to me, but it is pretty great – so I’ll cover it quickly and move on to the apps and extensions after! This might be kind of a long post in general, since I want to share many things that could be helpful for all kinds of problems neuroatypical people have.
SOFTWARE:
  1. Optimism – this is available as a program for windows and mac, an internet extension, and as an app! You can sync your account between these devices if you use more than one, and it’s also totally free. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty exciting. Optimism allows you to track your mood, exercise, and sleep, catch your symptoms worsening early on, and create a “wellness plan” which can remind you what is helpful to you when you are too distressed to think clearly. Here is their website.
APPS:
  1. Mango Health – this is my favorite app for tracking when I’m taking or missing doses of my meds, and for helping to remind me to take my meds. Sure, I have a billion and twelve alarms set on my phone (and other devices!) to ensure I don’t forget doses of my by now multitude of medications, but this app doesn’t just remind you to take your meds. It sends you a second reminder if you don’t let it know that you took them, it allows you to log which meds you are taking (and have taken in the past), it gives helpful tips, and it has a feature to allow you to show your prescriber your history of which med doses you’ve taken and which you’ve missed.  It can also warn you about possible negative interactions between different medications that you’re taking. Honestly, I don’t even use every feature on this app, because there are so many, and yet it’s very easy to use.
  2. Reach Out – this is an app that I installed recently that gives you easy access to a list of helplines and other people you can contact when in crisis. You can add phone numbers for people or organizations you may need to call when in crisis. It also features some short videos that are reassuring.
  3. Colorfy – I use this app to help soothe my anxiety when it isn’t super severe, but I can feel it getting worse and I want to use a discreet coping technique on the go to help calm myself down. It is basically a digital coloring book. There are a lot of different “coloring pages”, divided into categories for you to choose from, and you can color the little spaces in the pictures by clicking on them, and choose colors to fill them in with (there are a lot of color choices, too, and you can purchase more color choices within the app) I find this to be a great and distracting app that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy to utilize.
  4. DeepCalm –  I love apps that make a rain sound, ocean sound, or other soothing sound (sometimes even several at once, depending on the app!) to help me calm down and/or sleep. This app is one of my favorites that falls under that category.
  5. Balanced – this app is great because it reminds you to do five activities of your choosing (or more if you spend $3.99 on upgrading the app to get more) regularly with notifications. I personally have chosen activities that I find therapeutic or helpful for my mental health in order to keep my mindset as positive as possible.
  6. Stop, Breathe & Think – This app is fantastic for anxiety, since it helps you to breathe and especially to meditate. It allows you to select a mood from a fairly extensive list, among other factors such as your physical wellness, and then automatically selects several guided meditations for you to choose from (or to choose to ignore and do something else instead if none of them appeal to you at that time), or you can choose from their entire list of guided meditations to use.
  7. Good Habit Maker –  this app reminds you multiple times per day (you get to choose how many times) of a statement of your choosing. I have mine set to remind me to hydrate and drink a glass of water, but it would also be very useful for other tasks you need reminders for, such as taking meds or stretching.
  8. Infinite Storm – this is another app that I use to make calming sounds that help me relax, de-stress, or get to sleep. You can also play music on your device at the same time as the relaxing sounds, if that helps you.
  9. Pacifica – this is an app that lets you focus on your mood, or your anxiety, and track your health habits and mood. My favorite thing about this app, though, is that you get to choose a daily activity that makes you feel better – such as going outdoors at least once a day, or spending time with a pet or pets. It also includes some unconventional things you can track, such as caffeine, alcohol and cannabis usage.
  10. SleepySounds – another app to create soothing sounds to help you relax (there are many of these apps, including many I don’t even know about!) that also allows you to play your own music on your device. This app is especially helpful for getting to sleep, as suggested by its name.
  11. Grid Diary – this app was recommended to me by my lovely friend Farrah, who also has a blog, and it is currently one of my very favorite apps. It allows you to choose questions, either preset questions or questions that you write yourself, and answer them each day. You can also track your mood from a limited list of mood options, and the weather that day. Then, you get to look back on each day you’ve written in your grid diary for, which I think is so darn neat! I paid $4.99 for extra features within the app such as being able to add pictures to your question answers, although it’s a great app even if you only use the free version.
  12. Bellybio – (EPILEPSY SEIZURE WARNING for the website) this is an app that is great if you have difficulty with deep breathing from your belly but do still find it helpful. In order to utilize it you recline in a chair and place your phone above your pelvis on your lower stomach area. It tracks your breathing physically, while also providing information about your breathing, and can help to guide your deep breathing with colors and sounds, letting you know how you’re doing and when to inhale and exhale.
I also want to mention that if you’re on any medications (psychiatric or otherwise) then your pharmacy likely has an app of its own that you can use to refill prescriptions and check on the refill dates. Since different people use different pharmacies I won’t link to any of them – but search your pharmacy on the app store on your phone (for example “CVS” if you use CVS pharmacy like I do) and it should be easy to find, unless you use a small local pharmacy. I know that this is very helpful for me since going out in public and talking to people is difficult for me with my anxiety, and this reduces how much I have to do that.
That’s all for today – but I’m hoping to update again soon – I love blogging for you guys!
xoxo,
Zelie