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Odds are, if you are human, you have experienced anxiety. Even something as small as being on an airplane can cause anxiety, let alone speaking to hundreds of people from a podium. Anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting over 40 million adults in the U.S. alone, yet only a little more than 36% get treatment, according to the ADAA.
From performance anxiety to social anxiety to panic attacks, anxiety has the potential to really cripple your life. And a job in a competitive environment doesn’t help matters. Anxiety can get in the way of your work and make it harder to sleep well. But there are many ways to learn how to handle it better, even without going to a professional counsellor. From useful apps to podcasts to wearables, here is a roundup of tech that can help.
Lief Smart Patch
Wearable devices have an advantage over smartphone options when it comes to helping you handle anxiety. These wearables can give immediate feedback about what’s happening physically so you can interrupt it early on. The Lief Smart Patch attaches to your rib cage, near your heart, to monitor heart rate and breath, and it offers four training routines to help you improve your stress levels. With the app, you can monitor your progress over time and map your thoughts and feelings to the physiological shifts you experience.
Whether you’re speaking in public, taking a high-stakes test, or performing on stage, performance anxiety is no joke. There are in-person opportunities to practice speaking, but if those aren’t accessible to you, try an online course designed for overcoming performance anxiety. With this kind of anxiety, the best response is to educate yourself about your fears and build your self-confidence — a class can help you do just that.
This app offers relaxation techniques like many meditation apps, but it doesn’t stop there. With Pacifica, you can also explore cognitive-behavioural techniques to reduce anxiety along paths designed by psychologists. You can also track your progress over time to look to when you’re in the grip of serious anxiety.
Sometimes we forget about the simple things. Start paying attention to the music you choose when you’re feeling strong and calm, and make yourself a playlist on Spotify to listen to when your anxiety starts to ramp up. Not sure where to start? Some song ideas to help anxiety are “Weightless” by Marconi Union, “We Can Fly” by Rue du Soleil, “Someone Like You” by Adele, “Please Don’t Go” by Barcelona, and “Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)” by DJ Shah.
A different kind of wearable device, the Spire is a small stone that you can clip to your waistband or bra strap. It’s unobtrusive, so you can even wear it at work. It monitors your breathing to provide a feedback loop so you can notice when your anxiety is increasing. The app analyses your breathing patterns and sends you notifications when it sees a sudden change so you can intervene with a calming practice of your choosing.
Practicing regular meditation or mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety overall, but you already know that. Headspace is one of the most highly recommended apps for meditation. Try incorporating these sessions into your daily routine — you can set the length, and there are options specifically for anxiety. When you’re in the grip of it and need something immediately, find one of the app’s SOS sessions. If you’re preparing for a big work presentation or walking out of a stressful meeting, spend a few minutes doing a meditation with this app.
Your Digital Notes
One of the hard things about anxiety or panic attacks is that you don’t necessarily know what’s happening when your body is freaking out and your mind is racing. One of the great things about technology is that you can use it to outsource small memory tasks. After you’ve had a bout of serious anxiety, make a list of the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations you experienced. It can help to look at that list when anxiety flares again to orient you to what you’re experiencing and remind yourself that you’ve gotten through it before.
Make another list of things you know help you in those moments. Depending on the app you use, you can also access these notes from a desktop if you need to sneak a look at them in the middle of your workday.
If you’re caught in a cycle of looking at your smartphone, scrolling through a feed, or playing mindless games, try using it in another way: to listen. The Anxiety Slayer podcast was created specifically for people struggling with anxiety, panic, or stress. Individual episodes are under 20 minutes long, so it shouldn’t be hard to fit one into your day. This type of podcast is helpful because you learn about how anxiety functions as well as getting tools to manage it.
Anyone in a fast-paced job will have some amount of anxiety, but it can sometimes get out of control before you realise what’s happening. These tech tools can help you keep your anxiety in check and intervene when it becomes overwhelming, and the education they provide will serve you well in the long run.
Author: Hilary Thompson