My Apps Are Questioning My Mood

Use an app to monitor your feelings, or do some me-search by keeping a journal.

Posted Sep 08, 2019

Today, there is an app for everything.  Besides playing games and music, apps help with mundane tasks such as calendars, organizing photos, or checking financials. Apps, like any tool, require you to have the time, energy, and motivation to make use of them.

For this post, let’s talk about the mental health apps available for most platforms. These programs assist with topics such as mindfulness, meditation, stress reduction, self-monitoring, breathing, sleeping, and relaxing. Sounds good, right? I decided to try a few myself

The first app I installed was “Relax” (I changed the name so as not to pick favorites or bias your own consumer research). It sounded nice, both in name and function, providing a variety of audio tracks such as ocean waves, babbling brooks, and New-Age flute music to enhance meditation.

Most apps I tested supplied information about mental health topics from anxiety to depression, and more. Most were free to download, but continuously prompted the user to pay for an “upgrade” to access more features. 

I even tried a “Sleep” app that provided audio-book stories narrated very slowly in a monotonous voice to help me doze off. I typically don't have trouble falling asleep, but I could see how this app might be for those who toss and turn.  

My favorites were health-themed apps that counted my steps, calories, and heartbeats. These apps automatically provide an easy reference when you wish to track your physical activity. But several also asked me to enter every food that I consumed. Over time, I found this to be tedious, so I stopped entering data. It is challenging to stay consistent about entering the requested information. As with all apps, the reports can aid personal improvement, but the degree of usefulness depends on the time and energy you put in. The health-related apps that, without effort on my part (other than carrying my phone) tracked my daily steps and provided feedback did help me increase my own activity levels.

At some point, each health-themed app prompted me to take a deep breath. This is always a good idea, but do I need an app to tell me to take a deep breath when stressed

LIFE HACK: Simply turn this behavior into a “mental app” by taking a deep, stress-reducing breath as needed. Next time you feel stressed, activate your mental app by remembering to take a long, deep breath, and chill.

A mood app I installed encouraged me to click on “emotion bubbles” to assess my mood. Eventually, with daily use, this app reported on my patterns. We sometimes don’t pay attention to our mood swings, or how often we spiral into a negative funk. For this reason, this type of mood monitoring pp can be helpful to your awareness.

But again, it should be pointed out that we don't need an electronic app to explore our feelings.  One of the best habits for improving mental health comes when you write about your life in a journal. Here’s an excerpt from Password for Your Mind,:

Shannon felt like something was holding her back, but she was unsure of exactly what it could be. She was in her thirties, and not happy with her career or love life. What was a girl to do?

She remembered writing in her diary as a teen, having to hide her book of secret thoughts from her nosey parents. But now as an adult, Shannon thought it might help to write her feelings down once again. At a quiet moment, she began: “Dear Diary…”

Journaling is an effective way to explore your central processor: your mind. Write about your problems, reactions, memories, and dreams to gain valuable insight. Your journal is a safe place to explore secret desires and promote a free-flowing venting of emotions. Best of all, the words in your journal are for you alone, so be honest. The self-knowledge you gain will support your good mental health.

You can use a mental health app, pick up pen and paper to journal, or even create some "mental apps" of your own. The point is to discover your own patterns, and to understand yourself on a deeper level. This type of “Me-Search” doesn't require an app. Your mental apps can help guide your way in the future.