When you’re feeling stressed, depressed, and unable to get out of a funk, these free apps can help manage your mood and trick your brain into feeling more positive for the time being.
From bots that will talk to you through a funk to long-term projects that help express and manage your mental state through photography, these apps have several approaches to change how you feel. It’s all about mood management and mind hacks, a combination that can help you better understand depression and anxiety, and deal with disorders.
Important: If you have signs of depression, mood disorders, and other mental health issues, these should be addressed by a medical professional. The apps in this article are stop-gap measures or add-ons to actual therapy and advice, they can’t replace medical diagnoses.
The One Project (Web, Android, iOS): Therapeutic Photography for Disorders
The One Project has been around for eight years, but a recent overhaul has put it on a new stage. The project continues its goal of using therapeutic photography, but now puts it into a new mobile app that lets you better connect with the community and the goals of the ideal.
Therapeutic photography is all about taking and analyzing your photos to understand how you see the world. Others in the community can also comment on your pictures to perhaps uncover things about yourself that you didn’t realize. It’s a learning process, done both consciously and subconsciously. You can learn more about it in the TED talk by founder Bryce Evans.
The One Project generally carries a $9.99 membership, but the community prides itself on denying nobody. So if you have financial constraints, you can still use the app by requesting a free membership.
Healacrity [Broken URL Removed] (Web): Daily Questionnaire to Reduce Stress
When you wake up and start the day, you can approach the challenges and tasks with a clearer mind. Healacrity takes this clarity to prepare your brain for the day, no matter what happens, so that you don’t get stressed.
The web app, which also works on mobile, has a step-by-step questionnaire. You will be asked about big goals and the future, small goals and what’s troubling you, and worst case scenarios too. By writing your deepest desires and fears on a daily basis, it’s a bit like a doing a brain dump that also preps you.
Healacrity will email your responses immediately so that in case things go wrong, you can refer to your inbox which has a plan that you set at the start of the day on how to deal with obstacles. It’s better than having your tired, stressed mind coming up with a new attack.
Youper (Android, iOS): Bot to Track Moods and Rewire Your Brain
Youper is a mobile app that combines an AI-based chatbot with basic features of apps to track mood and progress. Through a series of questions and exercises, it will help you figure out how you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and beat it.
The chatbot will ask you a daily question to track your mood, or you can start the app to talk through how you’re feeling. There’s a bunch of presets for common moods, and you can choose the intensity of your feelings too. Over time, Youper will smartly figure out patterns in how you feel, and counter them with exercises.
There are also short-term exercises like guided meditations, for situations when you are feeling bogged down and want an instant boost. The bot understands normal language and has even auto-replies to feel like a natural process.
Moodrise (Android, iOS): Instant Mood-Changing Videos
Our moods are dependent on chemicals in our brain, like dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and so on. Some studies have shown that certain types of videos, sounds, or activities release more of these chemicals. For example, watching nature videos can release GABA, which makes you calmer.
Moodrise is an incredible app that puts together a series of 10 video exercises to help change your mood. First, you state how you are feeling, so the app can track your emotions. Then you choose from the recommended chemicals and undertake the exercise. It takes less than five minutes to finish one, but through watching, listening, and interacting with the set, your mind will trick itself into feeling better.
Moodrise is completely free, and you can do multiple chemical exercises in a day too. If you can’t find “Moodrise” on your phone’s app store, try searching for the developer AeBeZe.
Pause by Pauseable (Android, iOS): Move On Screen to Meditate
We all know that mindfulness meditation apps help improve your life, but several people find it difficult to sit still in one place without any activity. Pauseable combined the principles of Tai Chi with technology to create Pause, an app that makes you move to meditate.
Start the app, plug in your headphones, and you will be asked to touch the screen. Then you have to slowly trace your finger across the screen. Calming sounds play on your headphones, in sync with the calming animation and movements of your finger. You’ll get prompts if you go too fast or stop, along with prompts to close your eyes.
Ideally, a Pause session should last for 10 minutes, after which you’ll get a notification on your headphones. But you can change the duration in the app’s settings, as well as the difficulty for how slowly you move on screen, how much contact you need, and so on.
Download: Pause for iOS (Free)
To Fight Depression, Move Away From Screens
This set of apps offer various ways to change your mood and feel better. But don’t over-rely on them. In fact, technology can be the source of your depression without you even knowing it.
The internet, smartphones, social media, and other such digital factors can affect your mood. Learn about how technology feeds depression, and take steps to counter it.