Losing sleep? Losing weight? Losing patience? Jobs? Relationships or the control of your temper? Calm down. There’s an app for that!
There’s even a Calm site. It offers 30-minute sessions to help you to meditate, to focus, and to sleep. Android iPhone users can access the 2016 winners of “Best Anxiety Apps” at Healthline’s site.
The above are only a sampling of the mushrooming number of Anxiety Apps gaining popularity and purportedly soothing thousands of users. The world has come a way since the advent of White Noise Machines and simple nature walks. Meditation music such as softly beaten Tibetan Bowls had filled the air or personal ear buds, as the case may be, before downloadable anxiety apps came on the scene. Those once-popular techniques remain available. But they only work for some of the people who use them (they’re not for everybody). They’ll never work for people who stopped using them in order to modernize their approach to defeating a sense of stress, Anxiety Apps are the dominant trend in calming down, these days.
The question is, “Why are anxiety apps increasing in number and popularity?” The world still functioned when humanity prayed, pondered, or wandered in nature’s lovely, challenging or soothing surroundings before the Digital Age was even an idea in someone’s mind. The answer, apparently, is that online life is so addictive or demanding that users have forgotten, or never experienced, real world calm.
Whether anxiety apps are based on research or pop psychology and sales forecasts, the truth is that scant evidence exists to illustrate that happiness or calming apps improve mental health. It’s not even clear that they improve moods. The truth is that users need to be engaged in, involved with, day to day life in order to feel happy. Happiness is a state of mind, not something that you order a la carte like meals or donuts.
Good manners and refined behavior (a lifetime project to perfect) preceded things such as the Live Happy App, which reminds users to say “Thank you,” or to gaze at pleasing scenes. People used to live happily on their own initiative, as parents and teachers or clergy had taught them to. But as life became more frenetic with increased hours in a workday, digital devices replacing human interaction and the surrender of privacy on social media, a sense of serenity became elusive. Instead of indulging in down time, those time-honored relaxation efforts such as basking in sunshine, playing with pets and spending private time with loved ones, the people reaching for anxiety apps try to simply dial up a desirable mood.
Marketers are doing their best to convince the public that calming down might be easier by accessing anxiety apps. The fact is, though, that there is little evidence that anxiety apps work. The Big White Wall, a tool popular with Britons , is reminiscent of a diary. The online app apparently improves moods as people record their feelings online instead of in private diaries. They conduct conversations about what used to be considered “private matters” with complete strangers. The “History” page indicates that the BWW site has won awards. No mention is made, though, of anyone’s privacy being intruded upon by identity theft or other problems. Neither are the rates of increased post-use calm compared to enduring post-use misery. Nor is anything mentioned about the rates of correct and incorrect matches between the reasons for user unhappiness and the tools provided to them. In the age of mobile devices and the increasingly common surrender of personal information, that’s worth noting. In a related matter, the Journal for Medical Internet Research indicates that anxiety apps need to serve the interests of their users. These examples are evidence that efficacy is a standard worth pursuing. They do not, however, prove the efficacy of anxiety apps.
Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study proved that the best anxiety app is mutual love and respect, an aspect of the indulgence in day to day life referenced above. . The study followed over 700 men, physically and psychologically, for decades. They responded to numerous interviews and questionnaires regarding their accomplishments and their sense of happiness. Their blood was analyzed and their brains were studied with the advent of new technology. Conclusions of the study indicated that feeling and expressing love is the single most important variable in remaining emotionally and physically healthy and living longer.
Undecided about whether or not Anxiety Apps can soothe you? Check out Brain.fm. The creators claim that it will calm you as it raises your productivity. Meanwhile, mastering your personality traits and improving your social skills can’t hurt. You and that special person in your life just might connect, and connect better for it in the long run. Your health will improve, too. That’s quite an effective anxiety reducer.