By Skyler Ash
Having anxiety is a common and very real struggle for university students. The Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM) app helps you to track and deal with your anxiety, and was created with students in mind.
Through a variety of charts, lists and interactive activities, you can easily track your symptoms and practice techniques to lessen your anxiety right from your smartphone. It also features a chat room that you can use to talk to other people about your anxiety in a safe, protected and anonymous environment.
I use this app almost daily to help me with my anxiety, and it’s been really helpful. It’s easy to use, and can be accessed at any time from any place. The app’s logo is also inconspicuous, so if you’re worried about people seeing it on your phone, there’s no need — they won’t know what it is.
You can track your anxiety by sliding bars on a scale to see how you’re feeling. This monitors your anxiety, worrying thoughts, any physical side effects and whether or not you’re avoiding things you fear. This information is turned into a colour-coded graph, allowing you to see how your anxiety has changed over the course of time.
Next, you can fill in a list of things that make you anxious, such as school, work, relationships — anything. Then, you can set reminders to tell yourself to practice your exercises to help you manage the anxiety that these issues may cause you to feel.
The exercises are simple activities that really force you to focus. When you click on the ‘help for anxiety NOW’ button, you are sent to the page with the exercises. Here, you read a short paragraph that explains that anxiety is normal and that what you’re feeling will eventually subside.
There are three exercises to choose from when you first start using the app, each of which have different levels you can work up to with more practice have. Once you work with the app more frequently, you can have access to new exercises.
You can do a breathing exercise, which prompts you to breathe in and out at a regulated, healthy rate. This will help to calm you down if you feel you can’t control your breathing or need to bring yourself back into the moment.
Next, you can work with something called ‘Picture Peace’. The app provides you with a set of stock photos, and you can chose which one you’d like to use. Then, you can either use your finger to uncover the picture or to bring the photo from black and white to colour.
And finally, you can practice something called ‘change the focus’, which essentially is a list of prompts to guide you through a mindfulness exercise. This forces you to focus on individual things around you, to pay attention to your breathing and helps you shift your thoughts away from what has been bothering you.
Using SAM to help you with your anxiety can be very useful. As long as you have your phone, help is never far away.
The app was developed by the University of West England and MyOxygen in Bristol, England. SAM is totally free, and available on the iOS App Store and Android’s Google Play.