• Sarah Rossmiller LPC

Top 5 Phone App Recommendations

As part of my commitment to finding helpful tools to support my therapy clients outside of the therapy room, I try to look into phone apps related to health and wellness on a regular basis. Sometimes these apps just up sitting on my phone, neglected and sad little icons that eventually get the boot during the next attempt at organizing the clutter. I either never give them a real chance for whatever reason, or they just didn't do enough for me to hold my attention. However, some of those apps kept me coming back or struck me as something special. Of those, these are my current TOP 5, covering a range of health and wellness areas, that I would recommend in a heartbeat.

1. Moodnotes

App's description:

"Capture your mood and improve your thinking habits through an innovative approach to journaling! Moodnotes empowers you to track your mood over time, avoid common thinking traps, and develop perspectives associated with increased happiness and well-being."

Why I love this app:

As with most of these types of apps, you can record how you're feeling throughout the day, and there's a section for notes/journaling if you want to add that as well. This is pretty standard as far as mood tracker apps go, but this one adds something to the process that the others don't. It incorporates cognitive restructuring tools, allowing you to "check a thought" associated with your mood. If you're thinking is limited/unreasonable in any way, the app walks you through identifying the "thinking trap" at play and challenging it with a more balanced replacement thought. It also provides suggestions for shifting perspective so if you're stuck you're not just left to figure it out on your own. It then takes all the entries you make about mood and thinking traps and provides insightful data that summarizes your trends and patterns over time. It has options to export this date to your email too, so you can easily share it with a therapist. Moodnotes has a small fee to download it, though I think it's more than worth it.

2. Stop, Breathe, & Think

App's description: "

Stop. Breathe. Think. Check in with how you’re feeling, and try short activities tuned to your emotions." Why I love this app:

Breathe offers opportunities for meditation and mindfulness that just feel more accessible to me than other meditation apps. I like the look and feel of this app too - it just flows nicely, has cool illustrations, and doesn't feel overly intimidating or time consuming. You check in with how you're feeling, both physically and mentally, and then you're given an option further clarify your emotions (which you can also choose to skip). Based on this check-in, you're given a short list of recommendations for mindful activities you can try. Mindful activities include breathing techniques, various meditations topics, guided walking, listening to short stories, body scanning, relaxing music/sound, etc. You can adjust the length of these as well as the voice delivery. It's really an excellent way to begin redirecting and rewiring the mind to promote positive self-talk, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, relaxation, and compassion. Breathe is totally free and clear of pesky ads, though for more advanced features they do require a small financial investment.

3. Habitica

App's description: "

Habitica is a free habit and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy and happy." Why I love this app:

I've never gotten as excited about an app as I have with this one. It's turned me into a gamer-nerd, but that's totally cool because instead of it being a distraction from what I need to be doing, it's motivating me to get more done! Every time I complete a task, work on building a new habit, or get something on my to-do list done, I'm rewarded with gold, prizes, pets, and equipment that help me advance in the land of Habitica. The best part about this app is the support and accountability aspect....members can join "parties" and go on quests together to battle monsters (by completing your individually determined tasks) which gives you even more rewards. Having an avatar that is earning experience and health points and working against distractions with the support of fellow Habiticans is a really fun way to keep track of our needs in real-life. In real-life our healthy habits and completion of tasks improves our health while neglecting those things can harm us physically and mentally. Having people on our side to support our efforts increases how successful we are while being cut off from others contributes to loneliness and depression. Oh, and guess what? Amazingly, this app is also free to you and free of ads! You can make donations for fun extras (and I think this app is entirely worth contributing to in this way) but it's not necessary to enjoy the app in its entirety.

4. Down Dog

App's description:

"Great Yoga Anywhere. Down Dog gives you the power to build a yoga practice you love! Choose your favorite voice, your level, tell us how much time you have, then get started or choose across 6 more settings to individualize your practice even further."

Why I love this app:

You can really individualize your practice with this app so you're getting what you need out of yoga. When I want a more intense workout, I feel like I'm getting one as good as I would at a studio. It works just as well when I want to get some gentle yoga in before I go to bed or to help calm my mind. And if I'm short on time and want a mid-day energizer, this app has me covered. The delivery never feels patronizing or pseudo-spiritual... I have lots of feelings about the practice of yoga turning into a platform for instructors to lecture on mental health, spirituality, and the like, but I digress. Every practice is different so it's hard to get bored, and it includes "actual" music by known artists (vs crap-tastic elevator versions or white noise ambient tunes) and the songs are synced to match the pace of the flow. It's also free and you can enjoy it without ads, though to get a larger variety of features you do have to scrounge up a little bit of cash.

5. Gottman Card Decks for Couples

App's description:

"Inspired by the popular card decks from The Art and Science of Love weekend workshop for couples, this fun app offers helpful questions, statements, and ideas for improving your relationship." Why I love this app: This app offers a fun way to communicate and bond with your partner, but it's also a really great tool for diffusing some of the tension and anxiety around difficult topics (i.e. sex and feelings). The use of these card decks promotes the skills necessary to create and maintain a healthy, happy relationship. You can benefit from there whether your relationship is struggling or stable - every couple needs to make time for each other after-all. With this app, you get access to 14 different card decks (which equals to more than 1,000 cards), you can "favorite" cards you want to return back to, and the app is really easy to navigate. There's no cost and no ads. You can't lose!


Let me know what you think! Do you find any of these apps particularly helpful? What mental health and wellness apps do you love that aren't on my list?

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