This week’s blog was written by Daniel Cazares, SCY Student Program Assistant, focusing on how mobile apps can provide mental health and self-care services, during continued social distancing and shelter-in-place.
As shelter-in-place orders continue across the country, there is a recurring conversation taking place amongst millions of Americans around the approaches they are taking to combat isolation’s effects on their mental health. Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19, many struggle to continue moving forward by finishing out their academic school year online; while others feel privileged to be able to work from home.
Unfortunately, many American’s don’t bear the same fortune as others. The number of people who have lost their jobs or are being furloughed continue to rise. At the same time, essential workers are exposed to dangerous work environments without the promise of hazard pay. There’s also the added stress of healthcare professionals working endlessly to contain the spreading of COVID-19, with the impending issue of reopening certain areas of the economy too soon.
The effects of COVID-19 differ from person to person. Parents now have to juggle working from home, while also having to set aside time to teach their kids who are adopting virtual schooling. For college students, there’s the financial hardship of having lost jobs; moving back to an unwelcoming home environment; and dealing with what feels like a reduction in the quality of education. For other Americans, it’s dealing with financial hardships, and trying to find a way to continue paying for rent, car notes, groceries, essentials, etc.
There’s been much debate surrounding how one should be spending their time during quarantine. Some argue that time should be spent being productive, while others have acknowledged that taking time to yourself is equally as important – the latter ringing true. As we continue to transition into a new normal, questions will arise how one defines being productive, given that we currently sit in a gray area.
As we continue to navigate shelter-in-place orders, we begin to understand the importance resources play regarding self-care and mental health. Certain individuals might tackle the issue by exercising, while others might draw or paint. Some meditate, and others engage with different members of their community through discussion forums. If the aforementioned methods suit you, or if you’re looking to try something new, the following mobile apps can further help:
Calm was named Happiest App in the World by the Center for Humane Technology. This particular app helps with sleep, stress, and anxiety. Users can choose whether they want to listen to sleep stories, or participate in breathing exercises. If you’re one to relax to the sound of waves or rain, this app is for you.
Nextdoor: Local Neighborhood
What better way to build community than by getting to know your neighbors? Nextdoor offers you the opportunity to engage with others in your area. This app keeps you alert for local events, home services, deals, and crime. Some users have even revamped how the app works – by offering to get their neighbors’ groceries while they do their own.
Happy Color™ – Paint By Number
If listening to white noise or exercising isn’t much of your thing, then think about letting your creativity shine. Happy Color offers a number of different images for one to spend their time coloring in. Whether you enjoy wildlife, Marvel, nature, or famous art pieces, this app will keep you busy with its paint by number structure.
Looking to remain active while staying at home? FitOn offers workout plans that one can do from home. Sessions include cardio, strength, yoga, pilates, and dance. This is a great way to continue a healthy lifestyle or jump start on goals set for future dates.
Headspace: Meditation & Sleep
If you’re looking to target different areas with just one app, Headspace is the one for you. This app encompasses meditation essentials, movement and health, physical health, and much more. When it’s bedtime, users can choose whether they want to listen to sleep music, perform breathing exercises, or listen to stories. The Wake Up portion of the app offers educational videos, such as, how honey is made or taking users through a year in the life of a maple tree.
As we continue to effectively work towards a new normal, it is important to be aware of resources available to those struggling with mental health during this time. We are living in an unprecedented landscape where health and living situations change on a daily basis. Though, the provided mobile applications are here to provide short-term relief, it is strongly encouraged you seek professional help if you feel you are in need of it. Please see below for additional resources:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- (888)-628-9454 (Español)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration