The more smartphone-reliant happiness seekers among us want apps to help us become happier.The best happiness apps on the market are, first and foremost, free (at least for a trial run). Many also use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a basis for their concept. According to the NHS, this is a talking therapy aimed at changing thinking patterns and behaviours and is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. While applications are indeed very different than an hour of talk therapy with a counsellor, the way that apps can work within the realm of CBT is to try to modify your thinking patterns and by helping you to change patterns of behaviour through repetition.
While not all the apps are free, many beat the cost of going to see a mental health professional, and, what’s more, the stigma of going to see a specialist unfortunately still exists for many.
In a nutshell,
Still, an app can be a good first step in the right direction.Of course, it's important to remember that happiness and health apps are an excellent way to keep working towards better mental health at the forefront of your everyday life and can consolidate healthy habits, but even the best happiness apps by no means replace visiting a mental health professional, or even just simple human contact. Think of these happy apps like vitamins - supplements are great, but they can never replace the real thing.
For the more socially minded of you, there's a community page with inspirational comments from other users. You can add your own too to brighten someone else’s day since it’s proven to make you feel happier. There are 58 “core activities” to begin with, with different variations, adding up to 1,200 various activities total. These activities were designed with the help of a professor of psychology at Hiram College Acacia Park, and they range from asking you to write down what you’re looking forward to in general, or looking forward to doing for a friend. Each of the 58 activities has a “Why it works” icon next to it, to explain you more about the science behind the fun games. Every two weeks, your phone gives you a happiness check-in, so it can continue on its quest to
“Overcome stress and negative thoughts" and "build resilience.”The reception for this simply happy app has been overall positive: indeed, users say that it changed their outlook, “especially when it comes to stressful experiences” adding that it reframes their "negative thoughts.”
Users also reported feeling more motivated and productive, indicating that it helps you to solidify positive, helpful habits that are the framework for a more confident and happy life. What’s more, users have reported that it gives them perspective, acting as a “digital scrapbook.”
Some of the things it features are Emotion Training Audios for help with managing emotions so that you can be more aware and cultivate a more positive attitude, best used when you feel overwhelmed by anger, sadness, or stress. Then, if you're feeling particularly anxious, you can also use the Relaxation Audios to unwind and to learn deep relaxation, something which is always an excellent way to relax and to benefit from life more. Or, for those of you who like to find out more about the concept and the history of the pursuit of happiness, there's their Choosing Happiness Audio to delve into the idea of and search for well-being. For those of you who like to cross things off of a list and who are conscious of their self-care, Happy Habits also features a Customisable Happy to Do list.
This reminds you to exercise, go outside, take a breath or drink some water.Like most of the best happy apps, it's game-ified, which means it turns the pursuit of happiness into a game rather than a tedious chore, with its point feature that helps you to keep track of your progress. For extra motivation (nothing like seeing how much you've been succeeding to achieve even more), it has a graph feature that then helps you to zoom out to see your progress. Users who like to write and keep track of their thoughts will be happy to know that the app has a Happiness Journal for writing personal affirmations for yourself and recording positive events to look back on later. Those of you who like to read can learn more about the science behind the app with articles on happiness and CBT. Its design is a little retro, but it uses positive colours like yellow and orange, and it’s customisable - for example, users can put their favourite picture of Hawaii, a snapshot of a beloved pet, or a family photo as their background.
She explains that what she found was that happiness lies in the small moments in life, and that you can be happier by just appreciating them more.In her own words, she wants to inspire you to say “I'm happier now because” by developing a “gratitude habit.”
In practice, the app works by helping you to be "more present and positive throughout the day," working like a life appreciation platform, or even a personal life coach. Each day it prompts you to write what you are most grateful for, be it the sun shining on your back, a moment spent with a loved one, making every stoplight on the street, or getting your favourite ice cream - you can even add pictures! These are moments that you might not notice if not for Happier, with which you can "create, collect and share those tiny positive moments." Ways you can use it are to lift your mood, take a meditation break, or enjoy the moments that make your day happier.
It's portable and can be used on Apple watch as well, acting as your gratitude journal. It also offers “bite-sized, expert-led courses,” to teach you more about the practice and science of happiness on which the app is based, breaching subjects like strength, calmness, and gratitude. What's more, it works as a sort of happiness social media platform, where you can connect to those around you (if you want, since sharing publicly is entirely optional) and get inspired by their gratitude posts. There's something very zen about Happier, an app which urges you to think of happiness, not like a feeling, but more like a muscle to be trained and on which you can rely on your day-to-day life.
We invite you to try out what we think are the best happiness apps to see what works best for you, and what pushes you to do the little things that will make your life better.
Rae Bathgate is an American journalist based in Barcelona, where she enjoys sunlight, yoga, and bookbinding.
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