Apps really can help lift your mood and improve your mental health. Here are ten great ones to download on World Mental Health Day.
It's good to work hard and play hard. But if you don't pay attention to your mental health at the same time, your life could come crashing down around you. That's why we're taking an enthusiastic part in World Mental Health Day today, a global annual event of raising awareness and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.
Elsewhere on Creative Boom, you'll find our handy tricks from creatives to help your mental health. But ultimately, knowing the right things to do isn't always the same as actually doing them. Most of us need prompting to eliminate bad mental health habits and form good ones instead. That can come from friends, family or colleagues, but sometimes we might prefer to keep things to ourselves. And that's where apps come in.
Apps can be great motivators for building mental health habits because they're automated and, therefore, completely reliable while also being neutral and non-judgemental. So whether you wish to start meditating, improve your diet, take yoga classes, or simply note how you're feeling, a decent app can help you stay on track, building consistency and regularity into your daily routine.
The apps we list below are all well designed, easy to use, and based on detailed research about how we can improve our mental health. Some are paid for, some are entirely free, and others operate a freemium model, but they all offer excellent ways to improve your mental health. And really, what better way to spend your time and energy is there?
1. Feel Better by Deliciously Ella
Deliciously Ella is a plant-based food and wellness platform that began as a recipe website and has since evolved into a restaurant, podcast and publisher. Its Feel Better app for iOS and Android provides a 360-degree approach to wellness, providing you with resources to improve your exercise regime, diet, mental health and more.
The app provides access to 800+ healthy, plant-based recipes and 300+ at-home exercise classes, including yoga, pilates, barre, cardio, strength and stretch. You're also offered nutritionally-balanced meal plans, mindfulness practices, tools to improve your sleep, and a wellness tracker fully integrated with Apple Health. The app is free to download, but you need to take out a subscription to access some content, for which a seven-day free trial is available.
2. Headspace by Headspace inc
More and more people are finding meditation helps improve their physical and mental health. And Headspace, available for iOS and Android, is probably the most popular meditation app available today. Using a fun and easy-to-follow interface, it takes you through a series of guided lessons on mindfulness, sleep, and breathing.
In one study, researchers found a significant increase in well-being, reductions in anxiety, depressive symptoms, blood pressure and sleeping problems in people using the app. Headspace offers a free 14-day trial; after that, you'll have the choice of taking out an annual subscription.
3. Exhale by Katara Enterprises
Exhale is an emotional well-being app for iOS and Android designed specifically for black women and women of colour. It's free to download and use, and there are no ads, but some content is only available through an optional paid subscription.
The central idea is that "it's time to exhale: to let go of all that isn't serving you and breathe in life, energy, healing, and love". The practices in the app are described as "soul medicine" and include meditations, guided imagining, breath work, coaching talks and affirmations.
4. Meditopia by Mindfulness Coaching
Meditopia offers 1,000 deep-dive meditations to get to the heart of what people deal with daily. Offered in nine languages, it aims to cover the entire spectrum of human experiences, from relationships, expectations, acceptance and loneliness to body image, sexuality, life purpose and feelings of inadequacy.
As such, it includes everything from sleep meditations to bedtime stories. You also get personal note-taking to track your progress, Apple HealthKit integration, a WatchOS app, in-app challenges with friends, and daily inspirational quotes. This app is available for iOS and Android and is free to download with in-app purchases.
5. MyPossibleSelf by My Possible Self
Created in collaboration with The Priory, MyPossibleSelf features interactive tools and coping strategies based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and customised for digital use to improve your mental health.
These include toolkits to help you identify behaviours and monitor progress; tags to help you recognise the activities, people and places that influence your mood; mood trackers to record how you feel and help you understand your moods; and visual and audio exercises to help boost your mood, relax your mind, or drift off to sleep. This app is available for iOS and Android and is totally free.
6. Streaks by Crunchy Bagel
Feeling unmotivated and lacking focus? Streaks is a to-do list app for iPhones, iPads and Macs that helps you form good habits. Track up to 24 tasks you want to complete each day, and your goal is to build a streak of consecutive days.
An Apple Design award winner, the app allows you to sync tasks across all of your devices using iCloud, share your tasks with other users to keep you motivated and get an automatic reminder whenever you need to complete a task. It costs $4.99 to download.
7. Able: Weight Loss Diet Plan by Ruby Labs Ltd
Able: Weight Loss Diet Plan is a science-based, comprehensive program for gaining control of your weight via an iOS or Android app. Rather than just focusing on narrow measures like counting calories, it looks at the big picture, including sleep, hydration, nutrition, movement, stress, and emotional health.
Also, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, you get one-on-one video, audio, and text coaching, so the process is tailored to your individual needs. A current offer allows you to try the app risk-free for a month at $49. If you don't like it, you can get a full refund.
8. Calm by Calm.com
Calm is the number one app for sleep, relaxation and meditation, with over 100 million downloads. Offering meditations, music, and 'Sleep Stories' narrated by actors like Matthew McConaughey, Calm is for anyone who needs a mental break, a soothing sound, or a peaceful night's rest.
Guided meditations are available in lengths of three to 25 minutes. You can also access a new, 10-minute Daily Calm every day, short videos with mindful movement and gentle stretching, mindfulness masterclasses, soundscapes and nature sounds. This app is free to download, with in-app purchases.
9. Lotus Flow by Uniondoes Teknoloji A.S.
Lotus Flow is an app for iOS and Android that lets you practise with experienced yoga instructors. There are hundreds of classes in yoga, fitness and meditation, all divided into categories and skill levels so you can easily find what you are looking for.
One particularly handy feature is being able to create customised video sequences by compiling the poses of your choice. The app is free to download, and you can unlock pro features with monthly or yearly subscriptions.
10. Sleep Cycle by Sleep Cycle AB
Most people underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep for mental and physical health. Sleep Cycle's smart alarm clock helps by allowing you to sleep better and wake up more rested. That's because it's designed to gently wake you up while you're in your lightest sleep phase.
You'll also get a detailed analysis from the sleep tracker, which monitors your bedtime patterns from the moment your head hits the pillow. The app is free to download for iOS and Android, while in-app payments unlock premium features, including relaxing sleep sounds and a story library.