health

"I was stressed, overwhelmed and confused. Then an app changed everything."

If you met me three weeks ago, you would have been introduced to quite the frazzled freak of a human being.

Dry hair. Crappy mood. Pessimistic disposition. A bloated belly from too many Coles cookies. Stress pimples. That-time-of-the-month pimples. Regular pimples. You’ve-eaten-12-Coles-cookies-in-24-hours pimples.

In short, I was a mess. So much so, I wrote a Facebook status about it and had approximately 127 loved ones express their “concern” about my mental wellbeing via text.

Because when you’re writing Facebook statuses, you just know things are bad.

My body and mind were sick of being ignored, my anxiety flared up like a delightful rash, and my life came to a screeching halt. At my lowest, I found myself curled over my laptop here in the Mamamia office heaving big ugly sobs, so anxiety-ridden I was fearful to catch the tram home; fearful to go out in public.

Listen: How Mia Freedman controls her anxiety. (Post continues…)

Why? Well, when my anxiety is bad, I develop an unrelenting and irrational fear that I will die. Oh yes, readers, that I will die. In a terrorist attack, in a horrible car accident, or in a hostage situation after an intruder breaks into my home.

You know, just the realistic stuff.

As much as I know these fears are ludicrous, and just a tiny bit self-indulgent, when my anxiety is bad they send me batsh*t crazy. I flinch when strange men pass me on the tram; sleep talk like a mad woman; and sweat at the thought of walking through a crowded place.

My love of true crime podcasts (and TV shows, and movies, and books) wasn’t exactly helping. Neither was my propensity to exclusively click on morbid news stories about death and pain and neglected puppies.

Then my psychologist recommended an app that – excuse the telecommercial jargon – HAS CHANGED MY LIFE.

But unlike the ShamWow dude, I really mean it.

Instead of listening to podcasts about Ivan Milat and various child murderers, the ‘Smiling Mind’ iPhone app – developed by Australian psychologists and doctors – has become my go-to morning listen. Now, sometimes before I even leave bed, I flick on a “program” that will soothe my mind and not mention the word “corpse” even once.

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A bloody beautiful resource that seeks to ‘build individual mental health and wellbeing through tools based on mindfulness meditation’, Smiling Mind is the perfect solution for any stressed woman who, like me, wrongly assumed mindfulness = hippy dippy fairy dust for people who live in Byron Bay.

As someone who is now addicted, let me tell you: mindfulness is great for helping anxiety, and encouraging positive, rational thinking.

If you’re not going to take my word for it, just ask my friend, Science, who has proven mindfulness assists with management of stress and pain, helps build resilience and compassion, improves focus at work and in the classroom and helps with creativity and collaboration.

A+, mindfulness. A+.

Better yet, Smiling Mind realises we didn’t all hop on the mindfulness train of 2015, and has tailored many of its programs for beginners. It also has a session for every age and every need. You want a quickie two-minute meditation before work? Easy. Want to give your teenager 10 minutes to relax? Sorted. Have a busy classroom of school kids that need a lie down? Done.

(Added bonus: whoever the man is that does the recordings has a voice like a Butter Menthol. Seriously. I could listen to those sweet vocal octaves all day, every day.)

Oh, and did I mention it costs $0?

Yeah.

Of course, this isn’t the only thing I’ve done to help my mental health. I’ve also joined a gym, sought professional help, and stopped watching The Keepers late at night.

But the Smiling Mind app? It really has had the most profound effect on me.

You can find out more about the Smiling Mind app, here.

If you or a loved one is struggling with poor mental health, Mamamia urges you to contact Beyond Blue.

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