It’s often said that many of us spend far too much time on our phones. While I definitely agree that we all need to look up more often to experience the amazing world around us in 3D (rather than just viewing it second-hand through a little 2D screen), technology can serve many useful purposes in terms of improving (or at least helping) your mental health.
Here’s five ways that technology can improve your mental health:
Smartphones: The smartphone revolution is not going anywhere in a hurry, and why would it when so many of us have realised the benefit of walking around with a small computer in our pockets? There’s an estimated 16.6 million smartphone users in Australia alone (thanks, Statista) which represents nearly 68% of our almost-24.5 million population. The great thing about smartphones is that you can make them your own by downloading apps, and there are a stack of apps for improving your mental health and wellbeing through mindfulness, meditation, tracking your moods and so much more. Find some great ones listed here and here.
Smart TV’s: I must confess, I’m a bit of an Apple fun (sorry about it – I just love how everything just works together so easily) and my Apple TV is my pride and joy. Not only does it enable me to access a range of services, like Netflix and Stan and Apple Music and iTunes – all in one place, but it brings the App Store to your TV, meaning that there are lots of apps you can download which are beneficial for your mental health. Aside from the obvious ones (meditation, yoga, mindfulness practice etc.) there are many which have mental health benefits because they allow you to reset, disconnect, unwind and relax or find some mental stimulation. As we head into winter here in the southern hemisphere, I’m finding that putting a HD fireplace app on really does wonders for my mood during the cold nights, and if I need a little mental pick-me-up, a quick game of Pool (like snooker or billiards if you’re not familiar) usually does the trick (provided the Apple TV doesn’t cheat and beat me…).
Smart Watches: Yes, I own an Apple Watch. Don’t judge me! Seriously though, even I thought I had blown all my savings on an expensive toy until I realised the mental health benefits of my Apple Watch (and smartwatches in general). Not only does it prompt you to get off your butt throughout the day and increase your activity (and exercise has been proven to improve your mental health – read here), but it can also work with apps designed to increase your mindfulness. My current favourite is ‘Breathe’ which randomly taps me throughout the day and prompts me to perform a simple one-minute guided breathing exercise designed to quiet your mind. I have always struggled to sit still but with this great little app I am building my mindfulness practice and finding it easier every day to quieten my mind (hell, I’m even sleeping better as a result!).
FaceTime/Skype/Messenger: There is no greater challenge than being apart from your loved ones, yet now we can chat face-to-face even if we’re on opposite sides of the world thanks to improved Internet connections and better technology. For the real it’s-almost-like-you’re-here experience, get your webcam hooked up to your Smart TV and blow your own mind.
YouTube/Vimeo/etc: Need something inspiring to watch? Want to find a yoga session? Looking for practical advice on how to manage your mental health? Looking for cat videos to cheer you up? Or just need a good laugh? Hello, online video-sharing sites. And because they’re sharing sites, you can pay it forward by uploading your own content to inspire, motivate and support others. Or just entertain them with videos of your dog doing its business on a baby. Whatever floats your boat.
What do you think about technology and mental health? Do you have any technological tools that you swear by? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter, or post it on Instagram and tag me (@jeremygodwinnet), because nothing says a conversation about technology and mental health like social media links! Enjoy your day and keep posting!
Jeremy Godwin is an Australian author, public speaker, blogger and independent publisher who specialises in mental health, self-development and personal growth, and is currently seeking treatment for a serious Eurovision addiction. Follow his blog, Stuff I’ve Learned (So Far), here.