As a relatively type A person, I am a sucker for a good app. The Apple Store is chock-full of great options for everything from photo editing to phone games and sleep trackers. Apps can be a wonderful way to organize your life, entertain you, make everyday tasks easier, and remind you to stay on track with healthy habits. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I find anxiety-management apps helpful in moments when I am spiraling or feel a panic attack coming on. 

What I look for in an app geared toward people with anxiety are usually at least one of these three main things: distraction, coping strategies, and tracking ability. This criteria helps me combat my anxiety through pinpointing my feelings/triggers, taking my mind off of my panic and giving me ways to mitigate anxious thoughts and physical manifestations of anxiety. I also make sure to look for apps that are free, since I like to be mindful of budget. Some of my favorite apps with free versions that I have tried are: BreatheToRelax, AntiStress, What’s Up?, and Headspace. 

1. BreatheToRelax

BreatheToRelax, despite its annoying ads, is the perfect app for calming and slowing your breathing during a panic attack. It plays soothing music and has a visual aid of a tube slowly filling up as you breathe in and out. You can lengthen or shorten the inhale or exhale depending on what’s comfortable to you. The background visuals of the app rotate between rainforest and various other nature photos. 

2. AntiStress

AntiStress is an app host that gives you lots of cute, anxiety-distracting games. Most of the games are random and mindless. They require basic skills like tapping or clicking on specific things. However, they require a degree of concentration to play, which can distract your mind from spiraling thoughts. Some of my favorite games within the app are Cake Maker, Juicer, and Slicing. They are all self-explanatory and can be very stress-relieving during high anxiety moments.

3. What’s Up

What’s Up?, on the other hand, takes a more targeted and strategic approach to easing anxiety. Upon entering the app, it highlights that you’re not alone in your feelings and that lots of people suffer from anxiety. Once you enter the app it gives you four options: Help Right Now, Coping Strategies, Information, and Personal. Together, these plans cover journalling, identifying emotions, and different types of therapy tools. 

4. Headspace

Headspace, is a highly-rated app centered around mindfulness and meditation. They have hundreds of guided meditations, sleep aids, and mental resets that vary in timeframes. The subscription plan costs $12.99, however, I just use the free basic course for beginners which provides plenty of options. It is very user-friendly, interactive, and cheerful.

During panic attacks, getting your mind off of your anxiety can feel nearly impossible. You don’t need to weather these anxiety attacks alone. Apps can help you take control of your anxiety. I have used each and every one of these apps during times of distress with positive effects.

BreatheToRelax combats some of the physical strains of anxiety like hyperventilating and a pounding heart with accelerated heart rate. AntiStress creates a distraction from anxious mindsets. What’s Up? gives you the tools to solve your issues and better understand them, and Headspace is great for nighttime especially when your mind is racing. I hope they can be as helpful to all of you as they are to me.

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.