How Mobile Phone Apps can Promote Wellbeing
Technology overall has a bad reputation when it comes to promoting wellbeing.
22:23 11 May 2021
Addiction to social media, cyberbullying, scaremongering, and spreading misinformation have been significant issues over the last decade.
Technology is now part of everyone's daily lives, whether that is because we wake up and instantly check out social media accounts, call a taxi or an Uber, stay in touch online, or book a reservation at your favorite restaurant.
Many people will say that the best thing you can do for your wellbeing is to throw your phone away! However, if you can stay in control of technology and not let technology take control of you, then there are many ways that technology can help to promote your wellbeing.
Mental Health Apps
While mobile phones and social media can undoubtedly damage your mental health, there are many apps available on smartphones that can promote mental wellbeing.
There are thousands of mental health apps available, claiming that they can help with depression and anxiety. There are even some available that claim to be able to treat insomnia and even help ease some cases of PTSD. Bold claims.
Bold claims, without evidence in the majority of cases. Some apps and services available on a mobile phone are backed by evidence, however, and there is generally good data to suggest that online therapy can be highly effective.
A study carried out in 2014 and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders concluded that online therapy was just as effective as a face-to-face treatment for depression. Another study published the same year found that cognitive-behavioral therapy delivered online was effective. In 2018, a study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders concluded that cognitive-behavioral therapy delivered online was "effective, acceptable and practical."
Woebot is an app that is available on android and iOS. The app was developed with the help of doctors and professors in psychology or related academic fields at Stanford University. They have different apps that are aimed at various age groups and demographics. They even have research specific to their app published in several journals, including the JMIR Mental Health journal.
One study found that using Woebot led to a 22% reduction in depression compared to a control group; over just a two-week period.
Woebot effectively uses a tree decision model and some artificial intelligence to interact with users. If you need to get something off your chest, you can vent to Woebot whatever time of the day or night it is.
Woebot isn't exactly a therapist, but 'he' can help you guide yourself through a number of cognitive-behavioral therapy exercises. Every day the app will check-in and ask how you feel and if anything is troubling you. If necessary, he can then teach you strategies and methods for improving your mood, calming yourself down, and questioning negative beliefs and thought patterns.
Telephone Answering Apps
It may seem odd to include a telephone answering app in a blog post about wellbeing but bear with me. Using a 24/7 telephone answering service app can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
For example, if you are a business owner, then unwanted phone calls can be a giant headache. To being with, unwanted phone calls take up a lot of time. Research has shown that after a single interruption, it takes nearly 25 minutes to re-focus and get back into your workflow. That alone is very frustrating for busy entrepreneurs and can cause some serious time pressure at the end of the day.
Unwanted distractions such as spam calls also increase our stress levels and error rate:
"Results show that when peripheral tasks interrupt the execution of primary tasks, users require from 3% to 27% more time to complete the tasks, commit twice the number of errors across tasks, experience from 31% to 106% more annoyance, and experience twice the increase in anxiety."
With a telephone answering service, you can also get into a state of relaxation and complete immersion outside of work hours. For example, let's say you clock off at 5.30 pm and are relaxing, watching TV with the family. You will not have to constantly listen out for your phone if you have a 24/7 telephone answering service taking care of your calls. You can literally switch off, relax and unwind.
Productivity & Organisation Apps
Again, you may think an organization-type app is a strange one to include in a post about mental health. Still, good organization and communication can help reduce conflict, anxiety, and stress.
For example, the FamilyWall app is a family organizer that contains a shared calendar, shopping lists, meal planners, and a secure messenger. You can also share images.
If you've ever forgotten an appointment or forgot to pick something up on the way home, then this app might be for you. It's a very efficient way to organize your family life. You can update each family member's calendar and set reminders. For example, if you are going out to the cinema on Friday evening, put it in your own and your partner's calendar to not forget or double book yourself. You can also create shopping lists and to-do lists for each other. Rather than telling each other to remember to do this, that, and the other while you're trying to eat dinner, put in in the app. there is also a GPS tracker included – which can help stop you worrying about where the kids may be.
Mobile phone apps specifically designed to aid therapy and practices related to mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and journaling may help promote wellbeing directly. It can be important to remember that being organized and switching off from work can also have a significant impact on how you feel. If you control your mobile phone and use it in a manner that is best for your mental health - by not getting sucked into a void of social media every minute of the day, mobile phones can become valuable tools in the pursuit of contentment and happiness.