Your Phone: A Stress Management Toolbox?

Apps to Manage StressLet’s face it: Having the world at our fingertips is both a blessing and a curse. The constant accessibility, the draw to check on this or that, the buzzing and increasingly strange noises . . . it’s enough to make you a little nuts. The good news is that your phone can also be your sanity saver when it comes to managing this thing called life.

Some of the apps and features that can do wonders for your stress level are already installed on your phone. Others can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. If you’re cheap frugal like me, you’ll appreciate the plethora of free apps that can improve your world.

If you have not already silenced most of the alerts for email and other apps so that you’re not being summoned to your device several times an hour, do that before reading any further.  Go ahead, we’ll wait.

Now that you’ve done the basic first step, you’re ready to move on. Here are a few apps and features that can make life a little less complicated and give you a little more control.

Calendar Notifications If you’ve got one of those minds that always remembers everything and never needs any nudge to do anything, skip this one. For everyone else, these are a great way to remind yourself to do something at certain points in the day. You can set alarms to remind yourself to stop and take some deep breaths to tone down your stress, do a power pose for some extra energy, do an activity that you’re trying to get into your routine, or even give yourself a little encouragement. It takes the need to remember such things out of your brain and gives you some semi-outside accountability.

Call Blocking Settings (Blocking Mode on Galaxy/Do Not Disturb on iPhone) These block incoming calls from anyone not on your allowed caller lists and mute any notification sounds or vibrations. When you turn them on at night, they make it really easy to sleep without being awakened by text messages from vampires and people living in other time zones but with the assurance that if the people closest to you need to get ahold of you at 3:00 am for an emergency, their call will come through. When you turn them on during the day, you can get things done without interruption or the needless waste of willpower by deciding which calls to take or notifications to acknowledge (of course, if you’re really brave, put the phone on silent).

Lock Screen Photo How many times per day do you look at your phone? Wouldn’t it be great if your lock screen helped your day along with a picture that makes you smile or a quote or verse helps your mindset?

Reading Apps (Most devices come pre-loaded with Kindle) These make taking a break easy no matter where you are.

Blue Blocking Apps (I like Twilight) If you spend a lot of time on your phone or other device at night, the blue light can disrupt your sleep by signalling your body not to release Melatonin. Lack of sleep makes it hard to do, well, anything. These apps block out the blue light on your phone at the same time as the sun goes down, which supports your natural circadian rhythm. They give your screen an orange hue, but you can control the intensity.

Heart Rate Variability Apps (I like Stress Check) These apps use your camera and flash to measure your heart rate variability. The higher your stress level, the lower your heart rate variability. These apps give an objective measure of your stress level and can help you to take your stress seriously.

Breathing Apps (I like MyCalmBeat) The quickest and most effective thing you can do to physically bring your stress level down is take a few long, slow, deep breaths. These apps let you set the timing of breaths and how long you want to practice. Most have some sort of picture or indicator of where your breath should be to follow. You may even notice a difference on the first or second breath.

Games This one should come with a disclaimer, so here it is: Some games are stupid and annoying. Avoid those. Remember the point here is to relax! There are plenty of games that can give you a distraction or something that involves focus without brain strain.

Music Apps Who doesn’t like music? On apps like Pandora and IHeartRadio, you can create your own stations, so whether you’re looking for something to soothe you or rev you up for a workout, you can find whatever you’re looking for.

The Off Button Some people will be surprised to learn that these devices can be turned off. All it requires is a little self-control (okay, maybe a lot). Use it. Often.

That little hand-held device can can be your powerful ally if you use it wisely. Let it help you to take control of your stress and your life!