Many people look for different ways to minimize the time they spend on their devices, but for those of us who manage mental illness or mood disorders, “adulting” can be particularly overwhelming sometimes. Over the last few years, I’ve found a few apps that help me get through things.
The apps listed below can help with everything from water-intake reminders to even waking up in the morning. That’s not to say they’re perfect, but to say that there are options out there to help you make 2018 a more productive year.
Way of Life helps break bad habits and create good ones. You list a set of “tasks” that you need to start or stop, and at the end of the day, you click green for success or red for “not success” (we won’t call it failure). I’m competitive and really into uniformity, so I strive to keep a long green streak without breaking it up. At my best, my tasks are “Go to the gym” or “Write for at least one hour,” but at my worst, “Brush your teeth” or “Take a shower” or “Go outside for five minutes” goes onto the task list. This app is available for iOS and Android.
When you’re depressed, if you’re able to go to sleep, waking up is fairly easy, but actually leaving the bed is not. This alarm app doesn’t only remind me to get out of bed; it also literally forces me to get up and spin in a circle in order to get the ringing to stop. Once I’m up, the desire to crawl back to bed is real, but I stand up and spin in a circle, so it makes it easier to use that small pocket of time to make some better choices. Not to say that I don’t end up back in bed, but at least I got out at some point. (There’s also an alarm that makes you do math before it stops ringing, and that gives me rage issues, so I won’t mention it.) Spin Me is available for iOS and Android.
I’m cheating with this one because it’s a combination of two apps, but they serve the same basic function. When things get bad, staying on top of simple things like drinking water and eating becomes difficult. I love My Water because it not only tracks water intake but also calculates how much water is in other things you drink. Meal Reminder is exactly what it sounds like. I know many people are emotional eaters, but if you’re like me and an emotional “noneater,” then this is a handy reminder when you’re in a fog to at least try and get something, no matter how small, into your belly. These apps have both iOS and Android options.
I’ve been using Unfuck Your Habitat for years. When things get overwhelming and the pile of laundry or the dishes in the sink feel like too much to tackle, UfYH sends little messages (like “Clear a surface” or “Pick just one thing up off the floor”) that help break the work into bite-size and attainable tasks. It basically just asks you to do as much as you can, and if that’s all you can do, congratulations! You did a thing! But more often than not, once you start small, you want to continue. Or not. It doesn’t judge. UfYH is also a book, so if that’s more your speed, you can get it here. The app is available for iOS and Android.
Moodnotes asks, “How are you feeling?” and depending on your response, it asks more questions until you get to the root of it. I’ve often been in a weird space until the notification pops up, and next thing I know, I’m working through something I didn’t even know was an issue. It brings a certain level of clarity. It also helps you track your moods to figure out what time of day, month or year you’re more inclined to feel “a way,” whatever that way is. It’s also helpful during therapy sessions. Moodnotes is available only for iOS.
I have no words for the greatness of this podcast. As someone who has had trouble sleeping since I was a child, I was skeptical when I first stumbled on it. The podcast host, who goes by the name Scooter, has figured out a way to use the tone of his voice and a nonsensical pattern of speech and repetition to lull you into a confused sleep. My brain is so focused on trying to figure out what he’s saying that the part of my brain that is chattering and anxious and keeping me up is muted in favor of, “What the fuck is this dude saying?” And next thing you know: sleep. I was once told that he gave me a shoutout on an episode, and I have never been able to stay awake long enough to hear it. It’s like bedtime stories for adults.
Like anything, none of these work unless you are in the space to use them. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered to find my phone, let alone use it. So these tools do not take the place of learning healthy coping mechanisms, but they can aid in making things just a little bit less stressful when you need a little boost. They work for me, and while I can’t guarantee that they’ll work for you, it’s worth a shot.