Top 5 Apps for Managing Anxiety

Calm

Free

This mindfulness meditation app is a great introduction for beginners of meditation techniques. It’s a popular app, which allows for guided meditation programs alongside peaceful background noise of your choosing.

Its features include:

A personal profile.

This includes a calendar to track your recent meditation sessions and compare your progression.

Customisable scenes for your background noise.

There are a few that come as default on the app, but you can download more depending on what you find most relaxing. All are free. This is a newer update, which was added so that you can whittle down your favourite scenes, and access them easily from your home page without flicking through a number of scenes before you find the one that works best for you.

Guided Meditation

If you choose to use the guided meditation you can pick a specific program. The default one is called 7 days of Calm. Using the app for seven consecutive days will allow you to see any changes in your mood and find out if this app works for you.

There are also two default-guided meditations for the app. These are Calm and Body Scan. If you pay for Calm Pro, either monthly or annually, you can access meditation for specific issues or areas of your life you wish to improve. These include problems with sleep, concentration, commuting and confidence.

Timer

Allows you to have control over how long your meditation sessions last. They can last from 1 minute up to 240 minutes. You also have the option to change the sound that plays when your session has ended (so don’t pick anything that sounds like an alarm bell or it may wake you abruptly!)

Panic Attack Aid (P.A.A)

£2.99

A helpful app for anyone who suffers from Panic Attack Disorder or frequent panic attacks with his or her anxiety. This app features a number of activities to ease symptoms during a panic attack and calm the mind.

These include:

A Breathing Exercise

This uses the movement of a circle to regulate and slow breathing. We often over breath during a panic attack which causes hyperventilation. This exercise allows you to relax your breathing and also gives positive, calming mantras to read and repeat to yourself.

Reassurance

This part of the app includes explanations for symptoms of panic attacks, helping to reassure your racing mind and calm your thoughts. The reassuring explanations are also tailored to your location.

Distraction Exercises

This is my favourite section of the app. This section features exercises and games, which should allow you to focus your mind and therefore, be distracted from your panic attack.

MindShift

Free

This app gives some great insight into anxiety and is laid out like a journal.

This app includes strategies for most anxiety disorders (including Social Anxiety) but would also be helpful for those looking for tools to manage:

  • Test Anxiety (Driving test or exams)
  • Performance Anxiety
  • General Worry and Panic
  • Dealing with Conflict

Its features include:

Anxiety 101

These are clear explanations to why we suffer from anxiety and why it makes us react the way we do (for example, it explains what the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is as well as where our anxiety comes from)

This feature is helpful for anyone who wants more insight into anxiety and may not have had the chance to do his or her own research yet. It is easily explained and to the point.

Situations

This allows you to address situations you would like help with such as ‘taking charge of panic’.

Check Yourself

Allows you to recognise what issues you may have with your anxiety and how it can affect you.

Thinking Right

Allows you to identify more positive and helpful thoughts, which you can favourite, making them more easily accessible from the main page.

Chill Out Tools which include:

Relaxation Exercises (Calm Breathing and ‘Tense and Release’ for tension caused by Anxiety)

Visualization (Mental Vacation)

Mindfulness strategies (Body Scan and Mindful Breathing)

Active Steps

Gives you strategies you can use in everyday life to overcome your anxiety or panic attacks. These include exposure and coping techniques.

The app also has an inspiration section, which gives you a selection of positive quotes to reflect upon and read when needed.

Anxiety UK

Free

The charity, which helps to support people with Anxiety Disorders, has a very helpful app for those looking for advice from other people diagnosed with anxiety.

It allows you to take a questionnaire to better understand what may be causing your anxiety. I do recommend that people visit their GP before self-diagnosing though to make sure they are not suffering from other medical issues.

You can hear helpful tips from other members of the Anxiety UK community as well as professionals in the mental health sector as well as create your own tips for other users.

This app also includes some links for more information on all anxiety disorders as well as personal experiences from members of the charity.

Pacifica

Free

This app allows you to track your mood as well as your health. This is a helpful way to check how your daily activities may be affecting your mental health such as your diet, water intake and exercise.

You can also check your progress through a graph to check how your mood changes according to changes in your daily activities and using the apps features.

Each day you can update the app with your mood. The app will then give you access to a selection of activates which could improve your mood and help you manage your stress or anxiety.

These include:

  • Meditations
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Daily Challenges (Small, achievable goals for that day)
  • Thoughts Journal
  • Community (discussions by other app users)

*Not SPR

Topshop: STOP glamorising self-harm!

TRIGGER WARNING

Self-harm is a serious symptom of mental health issues and low self-esteem.

It is not a fashion statement.

So why is Topshop currently selling temporary metallic tattoos that appear to depict self-mutilation as if they are the ‘next big fashion trend’.

The golden scar tattoos were created in conjunction with a new range of accessories the popular retail store have created to encourage and celebrate loving ones self. The temp tattoos, which have become a popular accessories for the summer festivalgoer for the last few years, were designed in collaboration with a jewellery design student from Central State Martins and currently retail at £8.50 a pack. The packaging also shows the slogan ‘Scars worth fighting for’.

Topshop Tattoos Gold

But rather then being met with the positive and empowering response the fashion brand had hoped for, the tattoos have been met with distain and disgust by many people across the net.

This isn’t the first time Topshop have come under fire for their ‘distasteful’ and inappropriate use of mental health issues to promote fashion.

Last year the British retailers were selling clutch bags with the slogan ‘Stressed, depressed but well dressed’ which they soon pulled from their stories after receiving backlash.

Using mental health problems to create ‘fashion statements’ seems to be a worrying and ever popular technique of selling clothes and accessories for a number of high street stores. One of the most high profile being Urban Outfitters, who have produced various garments in the last few years which openly glamorize mental health issues, such as their ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt and the ‘Depression’ crop top.

So let me jump straight into it. There is no doubt in my mind that the products I’ve just mentioned were created and sold to cause offense and upset. Unless you are a child under the age of eight who can’t use their own initiative or intelligence to understand that a t-shirt that read’s ‘Eat less’ is most definitely glamorizing anorexia, then there is no excuse to produce clothing which has such a message.

But I could, in some way, understand where Topshop might have been coming from with these metallic temporary tattoos. Celebrating our flaws and our ‘scars’ rather than being ashamed of our personal struggles is an ideology our society should aspire to and any public figure that encourages this is doing right in my book. Yet, there is no doubt that Topshop have gone about this in the completely wrong way.

The official target market for Topshop is currently 15 to 30 years old.

When I was a youngster, wearing Topshop clothing was something to aspire to. Although pricey, young people are drawn to the shop for its catwalk inspired couture and on-trend statement pieces. The popular vloggers are all wearing it, so why shouldn’t they?

And this is exactly why these temporary tattoos, regardless of the innocent intention of their creation, need to be taken down from Topshop shelves.

Just like the current trend of denim dungarees, there is always the concern that these fashionable accessories could become of ‘aspiration’ to young people who may see the stick-on scars as a ‘fashionable craze’ they should all join.

It all links into the misconception self-harm is often tainted with; that harming one’s self is a form of ‘attention seeking’ or a ‘teenage craze’.

Mental health charities and ambassadors are still finding they come across this misunderstanding in today’s society.

They have spent much time trying to raise awareness and educate people on the truth about self-harm yet actions such as the one’s taken by Topshop completely undermine their efforts.

Fashion and self-harm should never have to be in the same sentence.

The seriousness of self-harm has been completely misjudged by Topshop.

Over half of people who die due to suicide will have previously self-harmed. 1 in 5 young people will suffer from mental health issues.

These statistics are often forgotten by retailers who create such products purely for profit, a profit which even when argued ‘holds a positive message’ will not go towards charities or organisations which work to help the very people who have to ‘fight their flaws’.

Stop glamorizing self-harm. No amount of gold metallic paint will cover the pain and darkness that hides within self-harm. A transferable sticker isn’t going to raise awareness of mental health. If anything it will belittle the many people who struggle with it day in, day out. It’s not a trend and it certainly isn’t a fashion statement that should be encouraged in young, impressionable people.

Education is key and the misuse of an issue as serious as mental health for brand promotion is both wrong and exploitative.

If you know someone who self-harms or you personally have been affected by this story, please seek help and professional guidance. There are a number of organisations out there that can help and support young people and adults struggling with mental health issues.

If you are looking to help a friend who is self-harming, remember that it’s important to listen and leave judgement at the door. When someone is struggling with mental health issues as well as self-harm, they will feel alone and isolated. They may not want to speak to anyone about it.

Self-harm and mental illness should NEVER be seen as shameful as many people suffer alone when they shouldn’t have to.

You can visit these sites to get more information and advice;

http://www.nshn.co.uk/

http://www.harmless.org.uk/

http://www.mind.org.uk/

G

“Eat a Burger or something!” The Truth Behind Skinny Shaming

Since when did it become acceptable to insult a fellow female based upon her body mass?

Last time I checked it was never.

But for some reason, unbeknown to myself, woman appear to have emerged in their masses with the objective of publicly revealing their hostility towards anyone within the female species who does not meet their own hypothesis of what a woman should look like. This isn’t a new occurrence of course. We know woman have been publicly slamming each other for many a year. You only have to flick through Hello magazine or some other celebrity magazine to see woman criticising one another based upon aesthetics. Hey, who knew that celebrities got cellulite too? And surely Kiera Knightly can’t just be naturally thin so let’s accuse her of suffering from a mental disorder?

But more recently woman appear to be more obvious about their abuse, expecting the female population to applaud their obnoxious teachings.

Take Meghan Trainor’s All About that Base as an example of the recent popular trend of skinny shaming.

Whether Meghan is oblivious to the fact her words are harmful or not is a question only she can answer. The song starts out as a positive message aimed at young woman.

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

However, Meghan then goes on to tell woman that she’s ‘got that boom boom that all the boys chase’ and how ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’. I may be right to assume that Meghan doesn’t know of the sexual preferences of the entire male population. And to make such an assumption about what ‘boys chase’ is damaging to both young females and males. Such popular songs are surprisingly influential over the younger generations like most of pop culture. Numerous studies have been undertaken in America to prove that violent music and lyrical content increase the likely hood of aggressive behaviour in certain children and adolescents, so what’s to say that other types of harmful music won’t have as much of a detrimental effect on young people when it comes to personal relationships and self esteem.

But these lyrics could still been seen as somewhat playful and just pocking a little fun at naturally slender females (though I assume if the shoe was on the other foot it would be classed as straight up bullying). That is until Trainor really let’s herself down with the following lyrics which were kindly pointed out to me by my friend, Alice, on Facebook.

Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No, I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat

It’s not until you observe these lyrics more closely you actually realise what they truly mean and it morphs from a little name calling to a more serious subject matter.

  • Do you feel fat even though people tell you you’re not?

This question is one that I just copied and pasted from helpguide.org about the signs of one of the world’s most serious mental illnesses, Anorexia Nervosa.

I realise that in a few paragraphs I’ve gone from slamming a young singer song writer for criticising woman of a smaller figure to discussing the seriousness of Anorexia, taking the mood from light to dark in a matter of a few sentences. But is that not exactly what the song’s own lyrics have done?

I don’t pretend to be an expert on mental health but it’s always been something that’s interested me from a young age. And since going through my own mental health issues , I’ve realised how important it is to be honest and open about it’s effects on people of all ages and backgrounds.

It’s a scary fact that ‘an estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime’, statistics taken straight from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

And it’s even more worrying that ‘20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems’.

So, as much as Megan Trainor probably did not intend nor set out to insult and discriminate against thousands of mentally ill young woman across the world, that’s exactly what she has done.

It’s a serious topic and not something anyone should ever use as an insult or a jibe, especially someone within the public eye who can be seen as a role model.

I’ve personally have never been a large girl and from the moment I hit 10 I was considered to be underweight. It was never really an issue. After all I came from a slender family and it was never in my genes to be over weight. I never really noticed how skinny I was until I was in middle school. People would often throw the odd insult and I was none the wiser, content with the assumption that I might grow into myself and wake up with a pair of humongous tits and an arse the size of the London Eye one morning. Sadly, I continued to stay extremely thin. I ate regularly and there was never any doubt as to whether I had a good appetite, but maybe, due to what I can only assume is a high metabolism, I have maintained a slender figure.

And as I’ve mentioned previously, this was never so much of an insecurity to me until my mid teens. High school was the worst. I hated PE. Not just because I hated the cold (that’s one of the negatives of being so small, your fingers/toes will turn to ice in the winter and it’s not so cool when your name isn’t Elsa) but also it was usually the time of the week I got the most unpleasant comments about my weight.

‘Wow, your so skinny! Do you not eat very much?’

‘Look at your wrists compared to mine, they are so skinny’

‘Are you anorexic?’ to which I would reply ‘no’ and they would look at me with a judgmental look before saying ‘Are you sure?’

Oh well now you come to mention it I’m not sure if I have an eating disorder which would consume the majority of my days and ruin my entire childhood.

That question is not just an insult to me, it’s an insult to anyone that’s ever battled an eating disorder.

I hate to think anyone would starve themselves to be skinny but it’s a harsh reality that woman (and even a percentage of men) suffer from eating disorders.

Yet skinny shaming, without actually thinking about the impact the words have, has become a common practice in recent years. We don’t know other people’s stories. We can’t assume that someone who is extremely thin is choosing to be that way of their own accord. The same also applies to anyone who is of a larger build. Everyone has struggles and worries we cannot necessarily see nor understand.

We also don’t know if they are naturally skinny, like myself.

Skinny shaming is almost being held as some triumph within society, as if by criticising woman of a slender build it will somehow hold a beacon for woman of all shapes and sizes to accept and love themselves. Some may even say that skinny shaming was a long time coming. We have seen in previous years curvy woman criticised for embracing their body types, such as the incident in which Karl Lagerfeld called singer Adele ‘fat’ in less obvious terms.

But as you’ve probably heard your parents utter at least once in your childhood, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Without trying to sound like I’m quoting Mean Girls, why can’t woman just accept one another regardless of shape or size? Is it not possible to be beautiful in all forms?

Criticising other woman will not make you feel good about yourself. It will just make you sound bitter.

You wouldn’t dream of pointing out how large someone is when walking down the street, so try not to mention how skinny someone is like it’s some kind of compliment to be admired.

Due to the comments I have received about my weight, more recently a comment in which someone begged me to eat more, I can’t help but feel insecure about the way I look. I hate wearing bikini’s, find it hard to wear figure hugging clothes and most importantly, can’t help but feel it effects my relationships with the opposite sex. So it’s even more upsetting to hear female singers slating anyone who wasn’t born to be curvy.

Please think before you applaud the likes of Meghan and Nicki Minaj for their ‘inspiring lyrics’ which intend to make woman feel better about themselves, because their messages can be just as harmful as the models on a Victoria Secret’s runway. Skinny shaming in the form of song lyrics or magazine comments is just as bad as shaming larger woman. It intends to turn woman kind against each other, with bitter words and indoctrination, and that’s the last thing woman kind needs.

(P.S. I’m pretty sure that anyone who believes that the lyrics ‘I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club, fuck you if you skinny bitches’ is inspiring might just need to book themselves a reality check of some sort)

Peace!

Quote of the Day:

CHECK YO’SELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

(aka. don’t speak badly of others and accept that people come in all different forms)

Georgia