These are strange days, so here are some great mental health resources to support you, calm you, and give you a shot of inspiration.
Calm is a very beautiful app with gorgeous nature pictures and sounds. You can just listen to a river or a storm if you want to, and I often do want to!
Calm helps me feel instantly transported to a beautiful place.
There are stories to help you sleep, some of them read by interesting people; there are all manner of meditations with various foci – like calming anxiety, or mindful eating reminders. You can watch and listen to a crackling open fire, rain on leaves, or a fountain in the forest.
One thing, if you use the ‘breathing bubble’ image for measured breathing practice, expand the bubble out to slow the breathing down, otherwise it’s a bit of a quick and anxious pace.
Free for a trial, then if you like it, there are paid upgrades. I haven’t tried the paid version. Give it a try free first.
2. Headspace App
Again, you get a free trial period and then you can decide after a certain time if you want to pay a monthly subscription. Headspace has a cartoon-like interface which you may or may not like, but it’s great for explaining some basic mindfulness concepts. It’s good to really understand what you’re doing and why, when you’re learning meditation and managing emotions. It gives you more motivation to practice.
Headspace has stuff for kids and is incredibly popular because it teaches basic meditation very well. It’s a big ‘heavy-hitter’ of meditation apps (alongside Calm) and it absolutely deserves its popularity. Love it.
3. Smiling Mind App
It’s free, it’s Australian and it’s a great mindfulness and stress management resource.
There is less content overall than some of the bigger apps (but still heaps) and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The content moves up gradually from basic to a little more, as you progress through the days. There’s good stuff for adults and teens. It doesn’t look as fancy as Calm, it’s not as big as Headspace, but I love this app.
Well worth downloading because it costs nothing and gives a lot.
4. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman
People just love this concept for improving relationships and that’s fair because it’s enormously useful. Chapman defined 5 ways people most like to feel loved and found that most of us tend to have a top one or two preferences out of: Touch, quality time, words of affirmation, tokens of affection, or acts of service.
If we learn our partner’s love language and give them more love in their preferred way, they tend to feel more valued and loved, and vice versa. It can work a real treat in helping everyone feel more looked after and appreciated, not just in couples, but in whole families and friendship groups.
You don’t even need to buy the book, check out www.5lovelanguages.com for the important basics.
5. Take Two App
This is a couple relationship support app, for reminding you to be present and loving in your couple relationship, especially when the pressure is on.
It’s a small one-off purchase to get daily relationship boosting reminders and ideas.
Have a look at it if you’re looking for healthy relationship prompts and tips. It’s very positive and pleasing to use.
6. Your Voice in My Head – Emma Forrest – Book or Kindle
This book met with very mixed reviews – it was very liked and very disliked. As a therapist I am careful about recommending any memoirs of self-harm and mental illness in case they are more upsetting than healing to some readers. There’s a lot here to explore if you want to delve into another’s mind in their good times and very bad – Emma shares openly. She dives bravely into what it was like to fall to a place of suicidality and how she felt her therapist saved her life.
Here’s an independent review of this interesting read:
Good book. Wafty cover image put me off but this is a wrenching book about mental health and the brilliant people who look after it. What happens when you lose the person whose voice is keeping you alive. a shattering, yet hilarious and poignant little book about it all, and laden with many a hip industry in-joke to boot. highly recommended. Goodreads.
7. Panic Relief App
This app can give you instant support, wherever you are as it’s silent, simple and calming. You simply watch and tune into an animation when you feel anxiety starting to build up.
Panic Relief is made by a Danish psychiatrist and specialist in cognitive therapy, Marianne Geoffroy. Four short cartoons with animations show you how to cope with the unpleasant sensations in your body during anxiety and even panic attacks, while staying mentally calm and as grounded as possible. It’s a good addition to therapy.
8. Lovelands – Dr Debra Campbell – book, kindle or audio
This is a story of love, sex, ethics and betrayal, of loss and ultimately about deep personal growth. Disclaimer: I’m biased about this one, so I’ll just share an independent review:
Claire Zidich on Goodreads:
THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Now that I have your attention I would just like to recommend that every single one of you read this book. I have always loved the idea of self help books but I never really finish them. I find that they all share the same or similar message and are more often than not – frustrating.
This is different. I have never connected on such a deep level as I have with this book. I’ve been going through “love hell” recently, with the breakdown of a long term relationship 6 months ago, meeting new men, some average, some nice, some horrendous and I was fed up. Tired of trying, tired of everything.
There is no reason why I chose this particular book at the library, I just grabbed it off the shelf in the mix of hundreds of others. I have never been more thankful or grateful for a split decision. This book is not just for the broken or confused. It is for every single one of us, whether we’re in a relationship, single, heart broken, happy, confused or fortunate. If our self esteem is high or low, if we’re married or divorced.
The lessons I have learnt from reading this are astounding. It will bring you peace, it will bring you hope and it really will change your life ? and now I’m off to buy my own copy because I can never let this book go.
9. Start Where You Are – Pema Chodron – Book or audio book
In the Tibetan Buddhist framework, Pema Chodron teaches us to embrace all the difficulty and imperfection of normal life and just start there, with whatever we have, and do what we can. She is gentle, funny, real, wise, and so warm and supportive. A great personal growth handbook. The audio versions of her books are always wonderful and comforting.
10. I-Do Podcast
A Weekly marriage and dating podcast by a couple who set out to improve their own relationship and ended up sharing the journey with thousands of others via their popular podcast. I’ve been a guest and they ask all the good questions of lots of therapists and authors, on relationship topics.
Chase and Sarah also created the Spark My Relationship Online Course, designed to infuse your life and relationship with fresh passion, skills and wisdom. It’s a self-paced journey for turning up the heat in a couple relationship, having more fun together and revolutionizing your intimacy and communication. I teamed up with them to make it happen so I can stand by the content and quality!
10. Some Kids Books – Nelly Thomas
These books that are important for all kids, at school, kinder or home, because they are about compassion and acceptance of everyone in their differences, as being lovable, worthy of respect and equality. Nelly has done an important thing with these books. We could have a different world in a generation if we could get around these values for real, and action them in every part of society.
11. Beyond Blue Website and Mental Health Referral Hub
This is a good general starting place for all sorts of useful referral resources, chatlines, how to get in touch with support services, and where to look for help for other people or yourself with mental health. Incidentally, here’s a handy link to the national helplines page on the Beyond Blue site.
12. www.headspace.org.au (website, mental health hub for resources for young people)
Not to be confused with the US site that is just the home of the Headspace meditation app (also good!), this site is the Australian youth mental health hub. Like the Beyond Blue site it offers general info, referral guides and links to support resources, with a youth focus.
It’s a good site for parents and carers to gather some general info and understandings of how to proceed when a kid seems to need extra support.
13. All In The Mind – ABC Radio National Podcast
A solid podcast, delving into various aspects of mental health and wellbeing, behaviour and brain science. Well researched journalism and interviews. There’s lots of learning here, bringing less discussed parts of life – our inner life – out into the open for a good look and greater understanding.
It’s a lovely general, quiet sort of listen and learn magazine show, to listen to while gardening or making food, for example. The last episode I listened to explained ‘talk therapy’ well.
14. Psychologies Magazine
Psychologies magazine is focused on all aspects of personal potential and wellbeing, offering food for thought and articles about tools for living. It addresses deeper stuff in life, not what we look like or what the celebs are up to! Topics covered include self, relationships, family, work, beauty and wellbeing, culture, travel, food, wellness and more.
There is good free online content on their site, and a paid hard copy mag subscription too.
15. Flow Magazine
It’s a beautiful publication with some rich articles and a soothing, old school papery feel. It’s focused on creating flow and more enjoyment in your world. A nice mag to relax at home with.
16. A Weighted Blanket
I don’t have one of these but I believe they work wonders for people who have trouble sleeping or feel anxious at bedtimes. They comfort with tactile softness and heaviness, so you feel held and nurtured as you rest. There’s many online to choose from and order for delivery.
17. The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown – Book, Kindle or Audio Book
Shame is toxic and Brene Brown has been a heroine in bringing shame and self-criticism out into the light for all to understand – encouraging us to say No to letting it rule in our lives.
“In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough’, And to go to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging’ “.
This review says it all really – the lady is wise and gets stuck into the damage done by shame, and our need for self-compassion. Well worth a read.
18. Destination Simple – Brooke McAlary – Book, kindle, audio book
This is a cool, helpful little book by the creator of the Slow Home Podcast. Brooke offers her personal tips on creating a slower and more mindful existence. She advocates for less multi-tasking and more intrinsic sense of quiet reward.
This is a very generous website where you can learn mindfulness for positive mental health online, completely free and best of all, from quality teachers.
20. Untamed – Glennon Doyle – Book, Audio book, Kindle
An inspiring read with so much compassion and authenticity shining in its pages. A great deal of wisdom and support to be found here, about the courage of living an authentic life regardless of the judgment of others. I resisted it at first because I didn’t connect to Glennon’s previous Love Warrior. This one is different – just read it.
I hope some of these offer you support, comfort and inspiration.