Let’s make one thing clear—an iPhone app is most likely not going to be the one-stop shop for revolutionising your mental health. Mental health upkeep (a notoriously underrated endeavour) is a collection of efforts that looks different for everyone. Everything from sufficient sleep, a support system of family and friends, stress-relieving hobbies, and accessible treatment for conditions like anxiety and depression plays a crucial role in caring for our minds and inner well-being.
What the right wellness apps can do, however, is serve as approachable options in your personal rolodex of mental health tools. Don’t like meditation but need it to stay focused? Use an app that grows a virtual tree as a reward for practising mindfulness. COVID-19 making it hard to visit your therapist? Book an online session through a virtual platform—it’s all about finding solutions that work for you.
Here, eight wellness apps that Vogue recommends for busy go-getters who still want to make their wellness a priority, even if they only have five minutes to spare.
Breathe In: Meditation & Sleep
Known best for its sublime pastel visuals, Breathe In is a beautifully designed meditation app perfect for introducing a little bit of calm into every day. As the app’s name suggests, its central focus is on breath-work, with special routines for a number of categories including sleep, anxiety, productivity and inspiration. Led by mindfulness expert Karen Heshusius, each guided meditation session is effective, digestible and easy to fit into even the busiest of schedules. Don’t underestimate your breathing—something as simple as focusing on inhales of four seconds and longer exhales of six seconds can slow your heart rate and relieve tension from your body.
Available on the App Store.
Wakeout! – Move and Smile
Amongst all the wellness apps available, it’s hard to find one with a higher number of genuine rave reviews than Wakeout! – Move and Smile. “Wakeout has become a cheerleader in reminding me to keep my focus on becoming more active. It’s very reminiscent of having your best friend by your side,” reads one such review. With innovative workout plans and daily reminders, the creators of the movement therapy app have designed it to be exactly that. Each exercise is fun and unexpected, using all sorts of household objects you’ll have easy access to: from plant pots to watermelons. Inclusivity is also at the heart of the app, with work outs designed for people of all abilities, including persons in wheelchairs.
Available at wellness.app
Mindfulness on Apple Watch
If you own an Apple watch, you already know that the small but mighty gadget has long been a well-rounded and effective tool for overall wellness. Its latest operating system (watchOS 8) is taking Apple’s mental health efforts to the next level by revamping the existing Breathe app into the Mindfulness app, which features an enhanced breath-work experience alongside a brand new session type, Reflect. Each Reflect session welcomes you with a unique, thoughtful notion to consider that invites a positive frame of mind, for example: “Reflect on one thing you’re grateful for and think about why you appreciate it so much.” Versatile and flexible, this new feature can be used on-the-go, in as little as a minute. If you’ve been looking for a bite-sized way to introduce mindfulness into your daily routine, this might just be it.
Safe Space is a virtual therapy platform that aims to close the mental illness treatment gap in Singapore by connecting users with trained counsellors for both in-person and virtual therapy sessions. Once users answer a series of questions on the app, they are matched by an A.I. programme to a real-time therapist that’s best suited to their needs and preferences. Developed in Singapore by an ex-advertising executive worried about the mental health impact our all-work-no-play attitude can have, this app focuses on providing discreet and quick therapy sessions for individuals who have trouble carving time out of their day for self care.
Available at safespace.sg
Bad habits are hard to kick, and they can take a serious toll on your mental health. Singapore-born Intellect is designed to “hack” your behaviour and habits through psychological training programmes packaged into bite-sized, daily exercises within the app. If there are certain personality traits, relationship problems and work habits you want to fix for good (chronic procrastination, for example) this psychologist-developed app provides a good place to start. With over 10,000 members using the app’s many features including a guided journal for easy mood-logging, its ultimate goal is to help users achieve higher self esteem and overcome mental barriers to happiness.
A self-improvement app from New York, Happify is all about using games to boost your mood, reduce stress, and ultimately, make you happier. With evidence-based programmes grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and mindfulness psychology, the app was developed by founders with backgrounds in online gaming. Their goal is to translate inaccessible mental wellness science into easy-to-understand activities that anyone can do from the comforts of their home, in a reasonably short amount of time.
Focused on corporate wellness, Mind Fi was founded by a Singaporean entrepreneur who knew he needed a change after suffering from stress-induced chest pains at the age of 29. Having picked up meditation on a silent retreat in India, he then created the Mind Fi app, which has 75 percent of its users in Asia. The app includes several stress-relieving features like one-minute meditations (completing a few sessions allows you to grow a virtual bonsai!), haptic breathing exercises, and timed digital detox sessions intended to improve your focus.
Anyone who has struggled with an addiction of any kind knows how difficult they can be to beat. Recovery tracker app Sober Time keeps count of your sobriety down to the second, recognising and recording milestones to keep you motivated. Users can set up personalised goals for sustained recovery, and enjoy support from the app’s dedicated forum where the community discusses their daily struggles with addiction while sharing tips and encouragement, to ensure that you never feel alone in your journey to recovery.