Everybody has turned to technology while we’ve been self-isolating. Digital technology can be useful for communicating with friends and family, playing games and keeping us entertained, but also for finding out useful information and learning while we’re stuck indoors.
We hope that this article will give you some insight into some amazing apps to support your mental health and wellbeing (when you aren’t tuning into Trust Links Live, of course!), and help you to use your phone in a more productive and positive way.
Apps for Communicating
While in isolation, technology is one of the few ways that many of us can keep connected to the outside world. Although we can’t pop round to a neighbour’s for a cup of tea right now, that does not mean we cannot communicate with them from afar. Apart from texting, calling or messaging our friends through social media, there are lots of apps that can help you communicate with your friends and family. Here are two of our recommended apps:
Zoom is a video-calling app that allows you to see the person or people you are talking to. As long as you have a camera and a microphone you can use Zoom – and it’s free. Once you have made a Zoom account online you can invite people to join you by using a ‘meeting code’ and password – and that’s all. Share the meeting details with whoever you want to be part of your meeting, and open up a conversation for up to 40 minutes.
Recommended for: Zoom is good at connecting lots of people on the same call, without causing too much slowness or malfunctioning. A good use of Zoom is for a whole-family catch-up or a chat with a group of your friends – why not host a virtual quiz or trivia night?
Houseparty is our second recommendation. Like Zoom, on Houseparty you can host group conversations with multiple people at once who you can see and talk to. Houseparty works best on mobile phones and tablets, and it has the added feature of letting people drop in and out of group calls in-progress – if you open the app, you’ll see if your friends are in a call and you can join the party. Plus, you can play drawing, trivia and charades games in Houseparty, which are a really fun way to socialise with friends.
Recommended for: Houseparty is great for bonding and relaxing with friends, and helping you ward of the loneliness of social distancing. The games on Houseparty work best on mobile devices, so we recommend using Houseparty on a smartphone or tablet.
Apps for Learning
DUOLINGO is a free app that teaches languages from a beginner’s level. Choose from dozens of languages from around the world and start learning them from the very beginning. DUOLINGO uses pictures and graphics to make learning fun and clear, and you can unlock achievements as you go to help track your progress.
Recommended for: if you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language, or brush up on the skills from school that you might’ve forgotten, then DUOLINGO is a great way to fill your free time with cultural learning. En avant!
With PictureThis plant identifier you can learn more about your garden. When you take a photo of your plants, PictureThis will identify them for you and give you loads of interesting information about where the plants come from, their Latin names and how to care for them. You can also save your discoveries to look back on later.
Recommended for: if you’re missing the therapeutic benefits of our Growing Together gardens you can still enjoy the nature in your back garden or out in the streets. If you’ve ever wondered what type of tree is at the end of the road or what’s the proper name for your favourite flower, then this is the app for you.
Apps for Mental Health and Wellbeing
Reflectly is a self-care journal that gives you a place to collect your thoughts. Reflectly makes it easy to keep a diary and gain perspective for self-reflection. Reflectly asks simple questions like ‘How are you feeling today?’ to help you get thinking and to evaluate your thoughts, moods and feelings. You can look back at old diary entries to chart your wellbeing journey and Reflectly gives you prompts for positive feelings and activities.
Recommended for: Keeping a paper journal can be daunting and time-consuming. Using Reflectly is a great way to track your wellbeing journey and see how far you’ve come. This is something we can all benefit from, especially when we’re unable to access the full range of mental health support in-person at Trust Links.
With so much difficult news, it can be difficult to keep your emotions under control. Clear Fear is an app designed to help you explore and manage your emotions. When you feel overwhelmed by the news, the lockdown or your emotions, you can open the Clear Fear app and work through your anxiety. Clear Fear has a special focus on suggesting ways to adapt or change your thought-patterns and behaviours.
Recommended For: Clear Fear has good tips and advice on dealing with physical responses to stress and anxiety, and can be helpful for understanding your “Fight or Flight” response. Clear Fear has a really visual layout, with lots of images and pictures, and so it’s also useful if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by your phone or for young people.
NHS App Library
The NHS is a brilliant social resource that we should all be proud of. They also have dozens of apps and wellbeing guides available at the NHS App Library. Choose from First-Aid apps and healthy lifestyle apps to self-care and mental health apps, as well as dedicated apps to help you stay safe and informed about Covid-19. There are a mix of free and paid apps available at the NHS App Library, and there is something for everyone.
Recommended for: keeping healthy and positive about your physical and mental wellbeing. The wider NHS website is a goldmine for easy-to-understand and trustworthy advice to help you understand and manage your mental health and wellbeing. This is a trustworthy, reliable resource for finding out about how to keep healthy.
One of the apps on the brilliant NHS App Library is Chill Panda, which is designed for adults and children who want to learn to manage stress and worry. Using the camera on your smartphone, Chill Panda can work out your heart rate and help you understand what’s going on with your body when you feel stressed and worried. Chill Panda can then suggest playful activities like light exercise, other games and breathing exercises that can help you feel calm and happy.
Recommended for: Chill Panda is really good for young people, especially if you might be feeling cooped up indoors in lockdown. Be aware, though, that although Chill Panda can help you understand your body and your heart rate, it’s not a medical device. When you’re looking for something to keep you occupied when you feel overstressed, try Chill Panda.
You should always make sure to use your smartphone, laptop or gaming device in moderation. Excessively using or relying on these devices can affect your posture, eyesight and hearing. Technology can also be a distraction from more mentally stimulating tasks that don’t involve screens.
Make sure to explore reading, arts and crafts, exercise, creative writing and so on. It is important to keep track of how often you use devices, and try to take plenty of breaks to limit your screen time. Make sure your daily routine is full of different, stimulating activities, and these handy apps will help you stay happy, connected and switched-on during the lockdown.
Visit our mental health and wellbeing page to find out how we can support you.