Anxiety can be crippling, persistent and affect anyone at any point in their lives. Whilst the treatment that works best can differ greatly from person to person, there is much to be said for the therapeutic benefits of play — either via video games or apps.
This where your smartphone can be a lifeline. Whilst not a substitute for professional advice, therapy or medication, apps and games can be an accessible, portable way to supplement treatment. By either assisting with entering a meditative state to reduce the symptoms of an anxiety attack, or for immediate help to access vital resources, here are some of the best mobile apps for dealing with anxiety.
Breath of Light, $7.99
Image: Many Monkeys
Created by the award-winning Melbourne developers Many Monkeys, Breath of Light is a meditative and beautiful puzzle game with a hypnotic soundtrack by Winterpark.
Inspired by modern minimalism combined with a range of meditative art styles, players guide energy by moving rocks around the mystic garden, setting them in place and watching the energy settle into its new flow.
Headspace aims to help you learn meditation and mindfulness, in just 10 minutes a day.
The app has a great support network, too. You get access to great information about mental health services and Headspace's catalogue containing hundreds of hours of content, on everything from stress and creativity to relationships and happiness.
Relax Melodies, Free
Relax Melodies lets you select sounds and melodies that you like and combine them to create a mix. You create your own personally soothing background noise , adjusting the volume of each sound individually.
There are also soundtracks specific to guided meditation, that may be used in conjunction with techniques provided by your therapist.
MoodKit is designed to help you apply effective strategies of professional psychology to your everyday life. MoodKit aims to help you to engage in mood-enhancing activities, identify and change unhealthy thinking, rate and chart mood across time, and create journal entries using custom templates designed to promote well-being.
Developed by two clinical psychologists, the app draws upon the principles and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), one of the most effective and scientifically-supported methods of psychotherapy. MoodKit's innovative design enables it to be used on its own or to enhance professional treatment.
ReachOut Breathe, Free
Research shows that slowing your heart rate can increase feelings of calmness in your body. Using simple visuals, ReachOut Breathe helps you to control your breath and measures your heart rate in real-time using the camera in your phone. This lets you address the onset of physical symptoms of stress, like shortness of breath, increased heart rate and tightening of the chest.
After installing Breathe, you can customise settings to suit you, then set up your preferred breathing time and measure your baseline heart rate using your iPhone. It's simple to use and can be accessed at any time from your mobile or Apple Watch.
A final note: don't ignore anxiety, and don't rely on Dr Google — seek real life help. Visit your GP who can refer you to a local professional, or contact BeyondBlue. For more information about how gaming can help with mental health, I highly recommend giving Prescription Pixel a visit.