On an appier note: Using smartphones to improve your mental health

There are various apps that can help you feel better and many are free on both Android and iOS devices.

There are many ways you can use your smartphone to improve your general wellbeing.

Here are five apps recommended by Universiti Malaya Department of Psychological Medicine Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari that you can try and they are available for both Android and iOS devices.

CBT Thought Record Diary
(Free with in-app purchases)

One of the best ways to keep your emotions in check is by writing down your feelings. This app is a thought diary that lets you keep track of what goes on in your mind, and you can always return to analyse the flaws in your thinking and it may even help you recognise patterns.

But, of course, you don’t just jot down negative thoughts that occur throughout the day, but also the good and happy ones so that you are reminded of the amazing things that have happened to you. This is a great way of making you aware and thankful for all the positive moments in your life.


Breathing – how difficult can it be, right? Well, you’d be surprised to learn how different breathing techniques can help improve your mood and mental health in general. Breathe2Relax aims to do what its name says – to help users relax and manage stress with diaphragmatic breathing, an exercise that is done by contracting the diaphragm.

The app shows you how it’s done via diagrams and videos. And you can set your own inhale and exhale breathing lengths, and increase or lower them according to your preference. You can also connect it to your Android Wear smartwatch so that you can track your heart rate before and after each breathing exercise.

(Free with in-app purchases)

This app has a few free tracks that you can choose from, namely Conquer Your Negative Thoughts, Cope Better With Stress and Find Your Calling. Each track you choose is divided into several parts, including games and activities which you need to complete before moving on to the next segment.

From learning how to cope better with stress to building self confidence, the activities are designed to elevate your emotional wellbeing. You can choose either the Private Mode where your profile and posts are kept private by default, or the Community Mode where you can get encouragement and feedback from other members. You can always change your privacy settings via the profile page.

(Free with in-app purchases)

The app offers guided meditation and mindfulness techniques that can help you remain calm and relaxed throughout the day. It will guide you to focus on the positive things that matter, and be less distracted or reactive to your surroundings. The Basic course is completely free and will teach you the fundamental techniques of meditation and mindfulness.

There are also meditations to help you create the ideal conditions for a good night’s rest. The premium subscription gives users full access to Headspace’s meditation library where they can train their mind with guided meditations on everything from managing stress and anxiety to relationships.

MY Moodigo

Does your mood fluctuate so much that even you cannot keep track of whether you are always happy, sad or mostly frustrated? The MY Moodigo app is designed to encourage users to key in their feelings, quality of sleep and duration of exercises (if any). You can set a daily reminder for you to record your mood and there are so many to choose from such as “I am peaceful”, “I am nervous”, “I am okay”, and “I am tired.

Users are also encouraged to share why they feel that way, and can even use photos to encapsulate their mood. Users can also take the MY Moodigo questionnaire as prepared by the Malaysian Psychiatric Association to gauge their mental health, as well as learn how they can manage their stress and maintain healthy mental wellbeing.


Related: Smartphones: Bane and boon to mental health

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