Best apps and tools to protect your mental health at work
Our busy working lives present a whole host of challenges for our mental health.
From never fully switching off from our work and constant notifications pinging on our mobile phones to receiving hurtful comments on our social media accounts, it can be difficult to protect our mental health each day.
As we continue our focus on mental health in the workplace, we’re rounding up some of the best tools, features, and apps to help build resilience both at home and at work.
Use social media wisely
Social media isn’t bad for our mental health in and of itself. But when you combine the hours and hours of mindless scrolling (taking us away from being fully present with our loved ones) with the impact of negative content or offensive comments, there is potential for it to take a serious toll on your mental health.
Beyond being more mindful of how we use social media and giving less focus to how many likes our posts receive (something Instagram is already changing), there are tools within the social media apps and on our phones that can be used to help us use social media more wisely.
1. Block offensive comments
Thankfully, social media for most of us is a friendly, inclusive place, but trolling and offensive comments seem to be increasingly common and are obviously damaging for mental health – especially if those comments are targeting you or anyone close to you.
Most social media platforms have the ability within the settings function to block offensive comments. In addition, there’s usually an ability to block specific accounts to avoid interacting with offensive content. Don’t underestimate the impact of offensive social media content on you – be proactive in managing what you see on a daily basis and protecting your mental health.
2. Set time restrictions
It’s also worth proactively managing how long you spend on social media, especially if most of what you’re doing is mindlessly scrolling through content. Although that kind of passive usage can feel like downtime, it’s actually highly stimulating for your brain. Too much screen time can impact sleep, increase cortisol and seriously impact how productive you’re able to be with your time. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of stress.
Both Instagram and Facebook allow you to set time restrictions on usage. This allows you to choose how much time you want to spend on social media every day. You can then set a daily reminder to give yourself an alert when you’ve reached the set time.
I find this a great way to manage my time more carefully and raise my awareness of how much time I’m spending on social media each day (it was a lot more than I thought..). Once you’ve maxed out your time, you know to power down and close the app.
Use apps to find moments of calm in your day
Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Our brains are often at full capacity with deadlines, to-do lists, reports, meetings, phone calls… it’s easy to see how our mind can feel overwhelmed.
While every job is bound to have some stressful periods, there are ways that you can start to incorporate small moments of calm and mindful actions to help relieve work-related anxiety.
3. Clear Your Mind with Headspace App
The award-winning and research-backed meditation app Headspace has hundreds of meditations (some are just 5 minutes long) on everything from stress, to sleep, to focus and anxiety. Just a few minutes a day (which you can do at your desk without anyone even knowing what you’re doing!) can make a big difference to your mental health by reducing stress and helping you to become more aware of your own internal dialogue.
4. Build Healthy Habits with The Fabulous App
The hardest part to taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is consistency – it’s not possible unless you build healthy habits into your daily life. Whether that’s a reminder to drink more water, take a break from your screen or to get outdoors on your lunch break, The Fabulous app helps you build positive habits into your day.
While you’re building new habits with small, daily changes, you can also learn some of the science around mental health.
5. Get moving with DeskJob App
Sitting and staring at your screen for too long will only add to your stress levels —getting up, moving and stretching it out is crucially important for your mental and physical health. Deskjob App is a pretty basic app that simply reminds you to take a break from your desk and guides you through some easy stretches you can do at work. There’s nothing fancy about it — just useful prompts keep your mind and body nimble.
6. Reflect and plan with the Productivity app
Dedicating time each day to your mental health is crucial, no matter how busy work gets. The Productivity app helps you to do this by monitoring your mood and energy on a daily basis, asking reflective questions each day on your thoughts and actions, allowing you to set goals in all areas of your life, track your progress and actively manage your time to minimise stress. It also includes a daily gratitude journal – a tool which has been shown in a number of studies to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as improve physical health symptoms too.
I find the to-do list function – which sends helpful reminders and motivation during the day – an excellent way to keep me organised and maintain motivation to keep ticking things off my list.
But remember that sometimes, an app just isn’t going to cut it
Mental health is a spectrum – the apps above can help you to manage stress and stay on the healthy end of the spectrum. While the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and other mental health problems, present themselves in different ways for different people, if you’re feeling down at work (and/or at home), it’s important to remember that there are people around who are able and willing to help you. There are also some excellent online resources such as these where you can look for more specialist help, if you ever need it.
And finally, the irony of this article isn’t lost on us… As we aim to spend less time on our phones to protect our mental health, we’ve set out suggestions of apps on those same devices to help achieve this. However, it’s important to remember that these apps can usually be used across various devices – whether you’re setting up reminders to get moving on your Fitbit or accessing your to-do list and gratitude journal on your laptop, it can be a good idea to use a number of different devices to reduce the temptation of being drawn into mindlessly using your phone.
Hannah Bradshaw is an Executive Coach & Client Development Manager at The Executive Coaching Consultancy. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.