Research Technology Therapies — 13 June 2018

It is normal to be stressed, it is ok to feel worried and anxious, because it is just life. Isn’t this what we all sometimes say? Life is busy, and life is stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. Stress has long-term and irreversible mental and physical impact, and it is very important to have an honest conversation about this.

What is Stress?

Stress is a physical response. It is important to understand that it is our body’s natural mechanism to deal with challenging situations, where we are required to make decisions and respond promptly. So, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Through the release of hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, we prepare ourselves to react to dangerous situations. That heart pounding, fast breathing sensation is the adrenaline; as well as a boost of energy, it enables us to focus our attention so we can quickly respond to the situation. In the modern world, the ‘fight or flight’ mode can still help us survive dangerous situations, such as reacting swiftly to a person running in front of our car by slamming on the brakes.

However, when we are continually in such a heightened state, then stress becomes dangerous. The results of having elevated cortisol levels can cause fight, flight or freeze responses. Our brain function is minimised. This can lead to an inability to ‘think straight’; a state that is a great hindrance in both our work and home lives.

There are several ways that we can manage stress and overwhelm, with some top tips here.

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Here are the top 5 free apps recommendations that can also help with stress and anxiety.

1. Headspace  is a free app that is rooted in the science of meditation. It has series of guided and unguided meditations, and plenty of other relevant content to listen in your own time and at your own pace.

2. Insighttimer is one of the most popular meditation apps, with over 9871 free meditations from over 2000 teachers, in over 25 languages. People joining this app find the community aspect most useful with over 4.5 m users, and around 6000 groups. You can see how many people are meditating at the same time as you, which can allay some of the isolation that can accompany working from home or alone as an entrepreneur. The meditations are in several categories, and it is like a lovely buffet, so pick and choose what works best for you.

3. Calm is another beautifully designed app that has some gorgeous backgrounds that are very calming to look at, and a series of meditations that can be completed from 10-20 minutes. It really helps to develop a daily practice, and also enjoy a moment of calm and peacefulness when the day becomes too stressful. Voted App of the Year in 2017, it has some lovely 3 minute sleep stories, and a vast array of other content for mindfulness. The Breathe Bubble is a relaxing bubble when you have only 3 minutes to spare. Most of the meditations are free, but some of the sessions are locked unless you subscribe.

4. Colorfy is a lovely colouring mindfulness app, that first started off in print version. Based in science of creativity, and how colouring can create a feeling of flow, that is associated with a meditative state. It is beautiful, and just looking at the lovely colours made me feel happy. You can paint from pre-loaded templates or even create your own.

Colorfy

 

5. Aura is a mindfulness app that is aimed at personalised meditations everyday, targeting stress, anxiety and depression. It is based in a set of initial questions, to assess current mood, that will then be used to deliver 3 minute guided meditation everyday. It is constantly being updated so none of these meditation should ideally repeat themselves. Blue is used as a background because of the calming effects as per colour psychology. You are able to save the meditation for later listening as well. It encourages you to note down what you are most grateful for, which inspires positivity and optimism.

Although most, if not all, apps are based in science and psychology, these should not be used in any way as a replacement for a trained counsellor or therapist. These are useful tools and aids to support mental well-being everyday, particularly to combat and manage stress and anxiety.

Note: None of these are affiliate links and are based purely in personal recommendations.  

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