There are thousands of downloadable smartphone applications tackling the health of our minds, but which ones really warrant your time? Here we present four apps that score high in credibility — the magnitude and quality of the research that is supporting the app.
At the very pinnacle of mindfulness, Headspace is meditation done with ease, and while on the go. Shortly after installing this app, you will be greeted with several curved characters, free-flowing in a muted colour palette. Inside, you will unearth a range of digestible mind-snacks — from minute-long mindful activities to hours-long meditation courses — that you can fit into the business of your life. Before you commit to a subscription plan, you will be able to complete a 10-session free trial. If that does not sound like a lot, you will be thrilled to discover a piece of research titled ‘Putting the App in Happiness’ that concluded that Headspace provided notable increases in positive emotions and decreases in depressive symptoms after a mere ten days!
A leather couch and a therapist probing your childhood. That is one way to think of therapy. Another is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT seeks to put the finger on and address distorted thinking patterns that adversely affect our behaviour. Therapists who utilise CBT are all around the world, but Woebot brings a particular one to the palm of your hand. This AI-powered chatbot will have bite-sized conversations with you, occasionally spiced with an adorable pup image or a funny joke! If you do not feel like spending time texting, Woebot also offers educational videos such as Carol Dweck’s perspective on growth mindset or guided exercises where you can challenge your own perspectives on mind matters like stress. Woebot founder Alison Darcy — a former Stanford University clinical research psychologist — sees Woebot as your ever-available ally that can be messaged any time of the day or night.
Resilience is a beautiful — and much-needed — property of the human mind. It refers to our ability to bounce back and adapt when faced with challenges. SuperBetter gamifies resilience. If you want a mind health app that tangibly pours into your everyday routine, SuperBetter is the one. Conquering quests such as taking a brief walk, getting real-life power-ups by chugging a glass of water, or fighting the bad guys that have shaped your bad habits, are just some examples of how the app increases resilience and wellbeing through entertainment. Cameron Sepah is a Silicon Valley psychologist who expects more mind apps to take the form of a game in the future. Sepah believes that applying game terms to one’s real-life troubles can encourage players to “play the game of life”. An empirical game of life that is — SuperBetter is one of a handful of apps that have been evaluated in peer-reviewed journals!
If you opened this blog post with the hope of finding a vibrant cognition training app, fear not, we’ve got a good one for you! Lumosity, the “original” cognitive training app, has been featured in dozens of peer-reviewed publications and has been created with the help of over a hundred researchers worldwide. At its beginning, you will get to play three minigames, each calibrating a distinct aspect of your cognition: memory, attention, and processing speed. Their results will give you an insight into the aspects of your cognition that require a bit of exercise. In the days to come, Lumosity will have daily minigames for you. While games might have a child-like appeal — delivering cartoonish bags to the right hotel guests or preventing ant collisions on a green landscape — Lumosity has actually been found to boost adult cognition (even more than crosswords do!).