When technology helps to fight anxiety and sleep problems

When technology helps to fight anxiety and sleep problems
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Almost everyone experiences anxiety and stress at some point in their lives. Many people deal with anxiety on a daily basis that is caused by a condition known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It is not one particular issue causing the anxiety, instead, people suffering from GAD experience a chronic feeling of tension and worry as they navigate through the day. Whether a person is struggling with GAD or just having trouble with common stress and anxiety, it has been proven through numerous studies that practicing Mindfulness can calm the mind and reduce tension. Mindfulness involves learning and practicing how to keep focus on the present moment. It is not necessary to attend a meditation class to learn to practice mindfulness, it can be done anywhere and anytime in just a few minutes by using downloadable applications on your smartphone or tablet. Psychologist Dr. David Metzner, who is the clinical director of the New York Psychotherapy Network, recommends the following applications for his clients with anxiety and sleep disorders:

        One of Dr. Metzner favorites, the Mindfulness App, was developed by MindApps. The Welcome message located on the first screen of the application is where a new user should start. This gives an overview of what mindfulness is all about and how to use the app. From there the user has the option of practicing mindfulness with a guide talking them through the session. Sometimes it is helpful to begin mindfulness practice with a voice reminding the listener to stay focused. Once the user is familiar with how a session proceeds, it is possible to select silent meditations that ring a bell at specified intervals and at the end of a session. The length of a session can be preset from three minutes to thirty minutes, or it can be customized depending on exactly how much time can be set aside for practice. Additional guided meditations from well-known meditation teachers are available for purchase.

        A second useful application to learn mindfulness is Calm developed by Alex Tew and Michael Smith from Calm.com. A portion of this application is free to download. The best feature of this application is the 7 Steps of Calm. This teaches the user step by step how to be mindful by focusing on posture, mindset, body and breath. Once the user is comfortable with how to be mindful, a ‘Calm’ meditation session can be practiced in 2 minute to 20 minute sessions. These sessions are guided with a relaxing voice to help the user stay focused. For an additional monthly fee, dozens of specialized guided meditations can be unlocked. These meditations focus on areas you may want practice in more depth to help with personal issues, such as forgiveness, self-acceptance, creativity and confidence. Whether a person chooses to subscribe to the additional features or not, the free version of this application is well worth the effort to download and explore.

        Another mindfulness applications recommended by therapists is Headspace-On-the-Go. Similar to Calm, this application is free to download initially, but there is a wealth of additional content that can be purchased on a subscription basis. The developer of this application calls Headspace ‘a gym membership for the mind’. They believe that with daily practice, a person’s brain begins to experience positive changes in as little as three days. After initially signing up for Headspace, the user will complete a ten minute session once a day for ten days. This teaches the user how to practice mindfulness, become aware of their body and focus on the present. After completing the ten days of practice, a person should already being feeling less stress and anxiety in their lives.

        To find these and other mindfulness practice applications, search the app store on any Android or Apple device. Having so many applications available to help ease daily anxiety and stress is almost like having a back-pocket therapist. For severe anxiety, there is a ‘Panic’ application and a ‘Calm Down Now’ application that can be used when a person is on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. It may not be necessary to reach for medication or call a doctor when tools to help yourself with smartphone and tablet applications are so readily available. It is well worth the time to check out the applications mentioned in this article, or spend a few minutes browsing through the dozens of available applications that have been developed for mindfulness practice, anxiety reduction, meditation or stress relief. Life doesn’t have to be a whirlwind of tension and worry once you learn to live in the present moment by being mindful.


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