5 wellness apps for the online semester

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By Ivana Vidakovic

As September creeps around the corner, one thought is at the top of all students’ minds: how will I handle the first ever online semester? 

Quarantining and social distancing have proven to be mentally arduous situations for many students so far. Whether you’re a seasoned Ryerson student or a first-year who has yet to experience university, taking care of your mental health is an important part of your academic journey. 

Although apps aren’t the perfect remedy for mental health struggles, they can help ease some of the tension brought on by high-stress situations. 

Here are five apps you can turn to when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Happify

Who said taking care of your mental health always has to be a serious task? Happify is a free app that’s as fun as it sounds. Users start with a questionnaire that takes into account aspects including age, health issues and goals for mental well-being so that the content is catered to the user’s specific needs. 

They’re then given various activities like gratitude journaling and arcade-like games that help build on well-being and positive affirmations. This is a great way to bring some fun into your day. 

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is an app that’s great for beginner level meditators. Not only does it have hundreds of guided meditations available, but it also has a unique timer designed to ease you into a self-led meditation. The app has 55,000 free meditations, along with hundreds of courses from mediation experts and spiritual leaders. 

A 2011 Harvard Medical School study reported that meditation can actually increase density of the brain’s gray matter leading to better memory, information retention, emotion regulation and connection with the external world.  

Calm

The Calm app is designed specifically to improve your “mental fitness.” Upon downloading, users have access to a variety of free meditations geared to help you fall asleep or simply calm your mind. 

When you make sure to sleep well, your stress levels are naturally lower during the day. Although the free version has a limited number of meditations available, there is still something for everyone. 

This app is a great way to slow down and destress, especially at night when anxious thoughts often enter the mind after a long day of classes and assignments. 

BetterHelp

Therapy can be a transformative tool for improving your mental health but is often expensive and difficult to organize. 

BetterHelp is a therapy app that matches you with a licensed therapist based on your individual needs. If you feel like the therapist you receive is not a good match for you, you can easily apply for a change. The app is cheaper than many in person and online therapy options, ranging from $40 to $70 a week (billed each month). Users can call or message their therapist at any time or can cancel membership without providing a reason. Since many therapy offices remain closed during the pandemic, BetterHelp is an online option for prioritizing your mental health from the comfort of your own home. 

CBT Thought Diary

The way you talk and think about yourself is a major determinant of your mood throughout the day so it’s important that we train our minds to think constructively. 

CBT Thought Diary is a free journaling app designed to retrain your mind using cognitive behavioural therapy to affect your moods and behaviour in a positive way. It allows you to track your repetitive, negative thoughts and then asks you to challenge and reframe them. 

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