Next week is spring break. When the kids were younger, vacations were simply a chance to do something fun and miss school. I have noticed, as they have gotten older, they need a vacation. With AP classes, extracurricular activities and the fear of missing out, they are dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety. Both of them are looking forward to a week without the social and mental pressures of school.
According to the NIMH, about 8 percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder. Some studies have linked increased anxiety with social media, coining the term Facebook Depression. Whether or not social media contributes to a teen’s anxiety is debatable. What I find interesting is the role technology can play in helping teens with anxiety. We have Fitbits and other wearable technology examining our physical health and now we have apps to help with our mental health.
Here in Washington, three teenagers from Kennewick created an app called Safe and Sound. The teens were inspired to develop an app to help teens with anxiety after the shooting at Marysville and their own experiences with depression and anxiety. The app included ideas for controlling everyday stress as well as how to find help during a crisis. Recently, the Safe and Sound app creators were honored at the White House Science Fair.
While the Safe and Sound app is still development, there are other apps available to help manage anxiety. These apps cannot replace a therapist but they can offer suggestions and exercises for helping teens deal with stress.
The SAMApp (iTunes, GooglePlay) is from the University of the West of England Bristol. This app offers a variety of methods to help people manage their anxiety including helping users to identify stressors and track their emotions. The app also includes a variety of tools to help reduce anxiety such as questioning your thoughts, changing the focus, and relaxing. One of the ones I love is “picture peace” which uses drawing as a way to calm the mind.
Created by two non-profit organizations, Anxiety BC and BC Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Mindshift app (iTunes, GooglePlay) focuses on tools such as mindfulness, visualization and positive thinking. Instead of reading through these tools, a narrator walks you through different exercises for calming your mind. The voices are soothing and guide you through a series of meditations and relaxations techniques.
This app (GooglePlay) uses cognitive behavioral therapy tools to change your thinking. The app starts with a test to assess your happiness. After the test, you can keep a journal to record positive events and choose challenges to help adopt a more positive outlook.
Calm (iTunes, GooglePlay) focuses on meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. It begins with the 7 steps of meditation. The app talks you through a guided mediation that can be as short as 2 minutes and up to 30 minutes. If you just want to sit quietly and listen to the ocean, users can set a timer last from 2 -45 minutes for solo mediation.
Yoga is a fantastic way to calm the mind as well as strengthen the body. Daily Yoga (iTunes, GooglePlay) offers quick yoga routines. Not all routines are free but there are enough free ones to satisfy most users. Most routines are under 30 minutes.