It’s true what they say: There is, in fact, an app for that. For food delivery, ride sharing, and hookups, yes, but also for deleting social-media evidence of your ex, and figuring out when to take a bathroom break during a movie. And while there’s been plenty of hand-wringing in recent years over the effect that technology, especially excessive cell-phone use, can have on our mental health, several developers have created apps with the goal of improving it.
While there’s no substitute for seeking help from a mental-health professional, making meaningful changes to your daily routine — like decreasing your screen time, getting more sleep, exercising, and learning to relax — can go a long way towards helping you manage your stress and anxiety. And some mental-health and mindfulness apps can go a long way towards helping you make those changes. Here are ten of our favorite apps to help you slow down, work through your worries, and take a moment to breathe.
Happify claims that its games can help increase your happiness and reduce stress while teaching you life-changing habits. When you enter the app, you’ll be asked a series of questions that will help determine which “track” you should follow, with options like conquering negative thoughts or coping with stress. Based on your answers, the app then assigns you daily quizzes and activities focused on helping you advance toward the goal outlined by your track.
Cost: Free (Happify Plus starts at $11.67 a month as an in-app purchase.)
In its own words, the goal of Brain.fm, an app developed in consultation with neuroscientists, is “unlocking music’s potential to influence cognitive states.” Choose your desired outcome — focus, meditation, relaxation, nap, or nighttime sleep — and the app’s algorithm will generate music to help you achieve it within 15 minutes.
Cost: The first five sessions are free, after which monthly subscriptions start at $6.99.
Whatever your excuse for not meditating — you’re time-strapped, you don’t know how, you need guidance — Headspace offers a solution. The app includes “mindful moments” to keep you present throughout the day, as well as mini meditation exercises for a quick mental reset. The basic course, which is free, offers beginner-level instructions to help you think more mindfully about everything from eating to sleeping to social interactions.
Cost: Free for beginners. Additional exercises through a subscription plan start at $12.99, and a lifetime subscription costs $399.99.
Ranked by Apple as one of its best mental-health apps of 2017, Pacifica is both easy to use and beautifully designed with a soothing purple and blue interface. The app provides space for you to track your moods, health, and habits, offering relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises tailored to your specific needs. It also offers curated audio exercises to deploy if you are having a panic attack, are faced with a stressful moment at work, or even just stuck on the subway.
Cost: Free access to some features. Pacifica Full Access starts at $3.99, and a lifetime subscription costs $199.99.
5. Worry Watch
To use Worry Watch, just follow five easy steps: record, reflect, reason, realize, and refute. The app helps you track your mental state over time by asking you first to write down the cause of your stress, and later asks you to return to the app to reflect on the worry and note whether the ultimate outcome was good or bad. Based on your responses, the app generates charts and statistics to help you analyze your thought patterns — and, in many cases, come to the realization that your worries are unfounded.
6. Mood Path
If you’ve been feeling sad, stressed, or lethargic, Mood Path will analyze the duration and severity of your symptoms to suggest whether you might be suffering from depression. This interactive mental-health screening tool assesses your mental state over the span of 14 days and then generates a report, which can then be shared with your physician or therapist.
Cost: Free (Additional in-app purchase of Jahreskarte costs $61.99.)
TalkLife, which calls itself “your place to talk to people who get you,” was developed as a judgment-free chat room for people struggling with self-harm, depression, anxiety, stress, eating disorders, bullying, or suicidal thoughts. Conversations are carefully monitored and users are encouraged to ask questions, chronicle their struggles, and offer tips anonymously or by name.
Cost: Free (In-app purchases start at $0.99.)
8. What’s Up?
Not to be confused with WhatsApp, What’s Up? uses techniques from both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy to help users cope with mental-health issues like anxiety, depression, and anger. Among other things, the app offers a diary feature with a scale for rating your emotions, a “catastrophe scale” to help you put problems in perspective, breathing techniques, and an interactive question game to keep you feeling grounded during stressful moments. It also serves up answer forums, positive quotes, and silly-sweet metaphors to simply help you focus on feeling good.
What if the daily disappointments in your life — a bad date, a fumble at work, a strained relationship with a friend — could be seen as an opportunity to strengthen your resilience? Created by game designer and self-help author Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter — based on her book of the same name — helps frame life’s challenges as part of a tough but rewarding game, with players moving through “quests” toward larger goals. Two separate studies even found that playing SuperBetter may improve psychological well-being.
10. Talk Space
Talk Space matches users with licensed therapists in their area almost instantly. Simply download the app, complete a matching questionnaire, select a therapist, and choose a weekly payment plan. Once that’s done, you can message, video chat, or call your therapist immediately.
Cost: Plans range from $49.00 to $79.00 per week.