5 Ways Mental Fitness Apps Can Improve Your Quality of Life

Treating your mental health with as much importance as exercise will treat you well in the long run.

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By Rashan Dixon Originally published

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Between an uneven economy and an ongoing pandemic with no clear end in sight, it can be difficult to get yourself in the right headspace. Even so, there are several apps at your fingertips ready to help improve your mental wellbeing. Here are five key ways that some of the top mental fitness apps can improve your life in 2021 and beyond.

1. Exercising more than the body

Several apps out there are designed to help users track their workouts, but very few go one step further. Proper exercise can do just as much for the mind as it does the body, but not if you run into common pitfalls such as overexertion or letting it become a source of stress.

Related: Exercise Officially Makes You Happier Than Money, According to Yale and Oxford Research

Tools like Habit List can help you set regular goals that go beyond traditional workouts alone, making it easier to keep up with other crucial activities such as drinking water or taking regular breaks at work. If exercise is cramping your schedule, try embracing the 7-Minute Workout format and app in order to stay in shape without harming other aspects of your life. Physical fitness can be a clear path to mental and overall wellness, but only when done correctly.

2. Offering much-needed escapes

Between social distancing and mandatory quarantines, even those that can get away for a vacation may find their trips more stressful than relaxing. Technology can offer the possibility of "escape" not to some faraway place but rather to a digital space.

That's the idea behind Healium, a VR program designed to improve the mood states of and increase relaxation in its users. By using the power of VR to transport people into a stress-relieving environment, Healium has been shown to decrease moderate anxiety by a factor of one third. Even as traditional "escapes" become more possible again, the opportunity to put on a headset and suppress anxious feelings will remain invaluable.

3. Making meditation accessible

Another popular and highly effective way to grab ahold of some calm in a turbulent world is through regular meditation, which can have a significant impact on overall mental fitness. But even just being able to squeeze in a session here or there can make a difference during stressful moments.

Related: 3 Powerful Tips to Improve Your Emotional and Mental Fitness

The market is just about flooded with meditation apps to choose from, but those who are just starting to seriously consider the importance of their own mental fitness should opt for a beginner-friendly option such as Headspace. While a number of other popular apps will work just as well, Headspace's basics course is a great jumping-off point for those needing some early guidance.

4. Enabling an attitude of mindfulness

Of course, meditation isn't the be-all end-all of mental fitness — it's just one component of the larger "mindfulness" lifestyle. Self-improvement, focus and tranquility are all key steps on the path to mental fitness, and mindfulness can help you achieve them.

Related: The Dangers of Digital Fatigue, and How to Prioritize Your Mental Health

In the high-stress year of 2020, it should be no surprise that mindfulness app Calm saw a truly unprecedented number of downloads. Though Calm, like Headspace, has a number of meditation-focused features, the app takes a more holistic approach to mental wellbeing. As more people look to improve all aspects of their lives, expect apps like Calm to continue to grow in popularity over time.

5. Improving sleep patterns

Anyone who's ever suffered a lack of it knows just how important sleep is to mental health. It may sound strange, but sleep apps can help users calm down before bed and track trends in their sleeping patterns as well, making it easier to look for improvements. With 63% of the time spent on mindfulness apps by American users spent on InsightTimer, it's no wonder that it's the leading candidate for helping people achieve more peaceful sleep. InsightTimer's calming pre-sleep courses and recordings can make a world of difference for people whose anxiety prevents them from sleeping — and can be a huge boost in the fight for mental wellness.

You can't be well without mental wellness, and you can't be fit without mental fitness. Though apps may not be able to get you where you want to be by themselves, they're invaluable tools for turning your goals into realities.

Rashan Dixon

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-founder of Techincon and Senior Business Consultant for Microsoft

Rashan Dixon is a senior business systems analyst at Microsoft, entrepreneur and a writer for various business and technology publications.

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