While these apps won’t magically cure your depression, they can be used as helpful tools and coping strategies for making difficult times more manageable. Our smartphones often get a bad rap when it comes to mental health, but they can also help to ground us, assist our memory, and provide positive distractions. Here are my 5 favourite apps that I use to help manage depression.
This app is the BEES KNEES. You choose a little animal friend, who finds it hard to get up every morning. To wake your animal friend up each day, the app gives you three tiny quests – things like brushing your teeth, finding a funny joke online, or doing some stretches. Once you wake your buddy up, it shares encouraging quotes with you, and gives you points with which you can buy hats for it to wear (it loves hats)! It also can remind you to take your meds throughout the day, and of any appointments you have.
I can’t tell you how many times this app got me out of bed, on days when I probably wouldn’t have moved otherwise. It also enabled me to become independent in remembering to take my many meds, which helped me to feel much more in control of the whole situation 🙂
I’ve tried a few meditation apps, and this one is definitely my fave. The subscription is a little pricey, but well worth it. The meditations are very down to earth, and just wonderful. Every day they release a new short meditation with a different theme, and they have meditations for every scenario!
The things that have helped me the most through depression, though, are the sleep stories. On nights when I felt really terrible, putting in my earphones and playing a sleep story often helped me to drift off, and get some much needed sleep.
Some of the meditations on the app are free, so even if you can’t afford the full subscription right now, give the free ones a go!
I discovered this adorable game when I was in a really bad place. You put your finger on the screen, and all these little cats run towards it (if they’re tame – to tame increasingly rare cats, you play mini games to make your finger “more attractive”, which I find hilarious). Sometimes they leave behind kittens, which you can put in your kitten house to visit and pat. All the cats and kittens meow happily at you, and it’s all very adorable.
I played this game when I was nervously sitting in waiting rooms to see various therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists; I played it when I felt too terrible to move; I played it when I was wide awake in the middle of the night; I played it when I was trying to get around on public transport… I played it A LOT, and it helped to ground me when I was feeling rough – and to bring a tiny smile to my face.
Okay, so maybe you’ve downloaded “Play with Cats”, and it helps you to feel a bit better when you’re awake in the middle of the night. Maybe Netflixing a funny show on your phone, or scrolling through Pinterest helps you to settle down enough that you can sleep.
We know that looking at our phones before bed exposes us to blue light, thereby disrupting our ability to fall asleep, but when I was in the worst of my depression allll of my coping strategies were things on my phone. If you’re in this boat too, you know that there’s zero point trying to help your sleep by not using your phone before bed, because you need those coping strategies to help you to drop off.
This app cuts down the blue light on your phone, replacing it with red light, meaning that you can keep using your phone in the middle of the night when you need it, without it keeping you awake.
Download free in Google Play. (There are no apps for this on iOS, but if you’re on iOS 9.3 or later, you can actually do this through your phone settings – go to Display & Brightness > Night Shift)
One of the many frustrating “bonuses” that comes with depression it its affect on your memory. I love this app because it’s a really clean, simple way to jot down everything you need/want to remember – grocery lists, websites, dates, names… by keeping all these things on your phone, you take the pressure off needing to keep them in your head, reducing the workload for your brain.
I also keep a rolling “to do list” pinned to the top of the app (I like to give it a cute encouraging title, atm it’s called “😽 Let’s get you through today, boo 🌻”), which has tiny steps that I can tick off, to help me to do what I want to do each day. Now that my brain is doing much better, my steps are broader; but when things were really bad, I broke everything into tiny steps, like “put your feet on the floor”, “walk to bathroom”, “brush teeth” etc.
Being able to tick these steps off feels rewarding, and giving yourself clear directions also helps to reduce some of the workload for your brain. I like to make my list for the next day each night. Keep puts your ticked items at the bottom of the list, so you can easily untick the recurring things, like teeth brushing, without having to write out your whole list again.
I hope you found this list helpful! Do you use any apps that help you with your mental illness? Have you tried any of these apps, and if so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!