In our low moments, there are plenty of mediums that can help lift us out. It could be our favorite games, music, films; or perhaps a book that's been written by a mental health expert.
Others use exercise to subdue panic attacks and harmful thoughts, or those memories that take us back to happier times.
For me, it's certain apps on my iPhone that help me manage anxiety attacks whenever they start to rear their head at random times.
Mental health is a subject I believe to be really important, and with this being Mental Health Awareness Week (opens in new tab) there's no better time for me to share the apps that I rely on to minimize that impending anxiety.
Apple Music & Spotify
It's an obvious pick, but listening to plenty of songs on loud does help to settle the growing panic and unrealistic situations that could form in someone's mind. While it's not just Spotify (opens in new tab) you can use for this, as there's Apple Music and Tidal available, I've been a user of Spotify since it was in beta in 2010.
I'm also a big fan of the gestures in the user interface, something that Apple Music lacks, and sorely needs.
But you may be wondering about some of the tracks that I listen to when I feel like anxiety is coming. Here are a few tracks that give me a lift, which you can look for on your favored service:
- This is the Day - The The
- Changes - David Bowie
- Jiggle Jiggle - Louis Theroux
- Digital Love - Daft Punk
- Something Kinda Funny - Spice Girls
- Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters
- Sunday Best - Surfaces
- No Pressure Intro - Logic
- The Universal - Blur
- Peace and Purpose - The Last Jedi
- Can You Feel the Sunshine - Sonic R
- Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
- Put Your Records On - Corrine Bailey Rae
- September - Earth, Wind, and Fire
- Live and Let Die - Wings
- Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
- Sonic 30th Anniversary Symphony Album - SEGA
- Animal - Def Leppard
But if you don't want to look for these tracks individually, I've got you covered. There's both a Spotify (opens in new tab) and Apple Music (opens in new tab) playlist that you can subscribe to, which has all of the above tracks, with some extra treats.
Having an Amazon Prime subscription means that I can sign up for Kindle Unlimited, which allows me to add a bunch of books to both the app on my iPhone, and my Kindle Oasis.
Reading in a cafe or a library can help block out the self-defeating thoughts as you're focused on the subject matter in that specific chapter.
A big benefit of Kindle Unlimited is the ability to switch between devices. There are several occasions when I've been on a train and I've forgotten my Kindle, but thankfully I can use my iPhone to carry on my reading.
Similar to Spotify, there are other apps that can achieve the same here, such as Books from Apple, but we have a guide to other reader apps on iOS that you can subscribe to.
Your podcasts don't always have to be a series of murder documentaries – there are some which can cause you to laugh uncontrollably as you walk down the street, or another where it causes you to note down a new trick for your air fryer.
When I need it I can open up Overcast (opens in new tab) and tune in to one of my favorite shows. A go-to for me is an episode of a show I've heard before, one that I know has will have me laughing in no time. It's a quick way to get my nerves under control and calm the rush of incoming negative thoughts.
Overcast is particularly great as it lets you manage episodes and playlists so you can access exactly what you need when you want a quick podcast distraction.
Available on the App Store for free (opens in new tab), alongside an optional monthly subscription for $1.99 / £1.79 / AU$2.99 a month or $11.99 / £10.99 / AU$11.29 for a year, WorryWatch is an app that does what it says on the tin.
If you can upgrade to the premium version, I'd recommend it. I've been using the app as a diary to keep track of situations that have led to sleepless nights, worrisome thoughts about the future, and paranoid thoughts about the world as a whole.
Keeping this record is incredibly useful. After the fact, I can look back at how I was feeling at that moment in time and spot trends in how I created and behaved. This has led me to find different ways of tackling these situations, and it's all thanks to WorryWatch.
Bonus: Secret Cat Forest
From the words of our Deputy Managing Editor Josie Watson, there's an app that had to be mentioned, if cats are your thing.
Launched in 2020 by Korean app developer IDEASAM, Secret Cat Forest (opens in new tab) is basically Animal Crossing meets idle clicker. Free to download alongside a bunch of in-app purchases, it blends some of the cutest kitty art I’ve ever seen with soothing ambient background noise. You have a single objective; attract as many fur babies to your cabin in the woods as possible.
There are only a few small activities you can do within the game, stopping it from becoming a huge time sink (I’m looking at you, Merge Dragons). Simply cast your line and collect fish to feed visiting cats, and you might get lucky and find other resources.
These resources can be combined with sticks harvested from your Infinity Tree to make new furnishings and decor – and as each cat has their own preferences, you’ll want to hoard as much furniture as possible!
It’s the antithesis of many popular mobile games, leaning heavily into the casual gaming genre by never giving players more than 5 minutes of “tasks” to do – unless you really, really enjoy pressing and holding your finger over a tree to collect wood.
With so many apps vying for our attention, distracting us and creating stress, Secret Cat Forest is a pleasant reminder that not all idle clickers need to be overbearingly addictive.