Nichola, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing placement student, shares her recommendations on the best apps to support your wellbeing, study and finances…
December is known for its festive activities which bring joy to many but can also be frustrating for others. Winter recess is that time of the year when many student houses empty for a couple of weeks and it can suddenly feel really quiet and lonely. When it gets chilly outside and the day becomes shorter our motivation levels may fluctuate and we can feel isolated because we are staying at home more often than usual. Winter depression could be one of the consequences which is why it is important to stay aware of our mood levels and remember to take care of ourselves in such a tricky time of the year.
Keeping this in mind, we have reviewed a couple of apps that focus on controlling negative thinking patterns, stress and anxiety to help you stay on track in December.
Being mindful of the fact that different methods work differently for everybody is essential in the process of tackling negative mood. Be patient and try to stay open to new coping strategies if some of them don’t work.
5 Ways to Wellbeing
This app is great as it offers a practical way to help you feel good and function well by five fundamental factors:
- Be Active
- Take Notice
- Keep Learning
These factors are based on substantial research indicating that the outcome is improved wellbeing.
The app encourages you to reflect on your wellbeing, set activities to help you improve your wellbeing and track your progress – all from the comfort of your phone, whenever it suits you! It can help with many different aspects of your life. There’s no daily dose or required level of work. Just use the app at your own pace to suit your life – you can even write and set your own personal activities. It’s wellbeing your way.
Balancing your commitments and looking after yourself through the busy festive period can be especially challenging over the winter break. With the help of this app and its clear, simple and effective methods, you can keep you wellbeing in check with ease.
Fabulous: Motivate Me! Meditate, Relax, Sleep
Fabulous is exactly that – fabulous. As the name infers, it will help you feel fabulous, whatever that means to you. Through science-based coaching you can increase your energy levels, feel vibrant health, lose weight, learn how to meditate and sleep better by instilling healthy habits and routines in your life. You can reach any of your health and productivity goals by following a step-by-step programme.
From struggling to wake up to improving concentration, the app offers a holistic approach and implements a progression of small and effective changes. You will start by setting your morning routine and then your own personal voice coach that will offer you personalized advice based on your everyday habits.
The Whatsup App
Endorsed by Cardiff University’s Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team, WhatsUp? is a wellbeing phone app offering 24/7 safeguarding, wellbeing and emotional health support. Features include: rate your mood; personal journal; inspirational notifications; raise a concern for someone; ask a question; wellbeing contacts. All entries are anonymous with dedicated contact to your wellbeing officers.
Best of all the app has direct communication with the Counselling team should you need any immediate advice. This app provides secure, confidential and non-judgemental support. Whenever, wherever you need it.
All you need to do to sign in is to provide your Cardiff University e-mail address. However, this is currently on trial and may or may not be in use after January.
Pacifica – Stress & Anxiety
Stress, anxiety, and depression can get in the way of you living your life. Pacifica gives you psychologist-designed tools to address them based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and mood/health tracking.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are caused by an ongoing cycle of negative thoughts. Thoughts cause physical feelings and emotions which cause actions. Pacifica helps break this cycle using tools that target each of its components. Day-by-day, you’ll learn to manage stress, anxiety and depression at your own pace. It’s not about quick fixes or false promises, but real progress a day at a time.
Bliss – Gratitude Journal
Bliss increases happiness, motivation and effectiveness with scientifically proven techniques from top researchers. Psychologists have developed a collection of exercises, or “interventions,” which have been proven to increase happiness and other desirable mental traits. Bliss packages these exercises up for you in one application so that you can easily incorporate them into your life and recap all the benefits from decades of psychological research. Exercises are scheduled for completion on a recurring schedule — allowing you to build the habit of positive mental transformation. It works like a daily diary or gratitude journal that allows you to record thoughts and meditation on the previous day. Each journal entry helps you increase mindfulness, find inspiration, and build self-confidence.
What is interesting about this app is that it goes beyond self-help and self-improvement to offer writing exercises that have been proven to work in rigorous scientific studies. The idea is that as you continue writing notes in your gratitude journal and completing the other exercises, you begin to change your outlook to focus on the positive, get more enjoyment from life, and become more effective at everything you do.
A mindfulness classic that is a great option for your break when you will have more time to start a new habit. Headspace offers a 10 days programme that gets you do a 10 minute guided mindfulness session each day in order to get you started with meditation. The app has been proven to help with wellbeing and is a good way to get a feeling of meditation in an user-friendly and accessible way. The Headspace teaches you how to meditate and live mindfully. You can use it at work, at home or anywhere else. There are exercises on everything from managing anxiety and stress to breathing, sleep, happiness, calm and focus. And don’t worry if you’ve never meditated before.
This app can help you focus and develop good study habits. Not only does it advise on how to study, but how to study smart, save time and retain the information. For the quantity of work involved at university, retention of information is paramount. It’s never too early – or too late – to develop good study habits. The sooner you get into a good study groove, the easier everything will be and the more your chances of getting good marks will improve.
Todait – Smart Study Planner
Todait is a study planner app, which will help your time management and productivity effectively. It is especially good for students who are preparing for big exams and have no idea where to start. Todait automatically plans and divides your study materials over a specific period of time while providing detailed feedback. All you have to do is enter how much you’d like to study for each subject as well how many hours you’d like to spend per week.
The app has great features such as a stopwatch (which allows you to measure and manage how long you study for each subject), a timetable, alarm, calendar, an automatic work distributer (to tell you how much you should study each day to achieve your goal), a plan adjuster (which redistributes your study material based on whether you’re ahead of or behind schedule) and so many more useful features. The app is neatly designed and is very effective to use, and gives you monthly statistics on your study habits.
TimeTune – Optimise Your Time
TimeTune is a routine schedule planner to increase your productivity and improve your daily routine.
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to be able to do plenty of things in a single day while your time slips through your fingers? The answer is that they have a very sound and organized distribution of time. They use healthy routines and stick to them, allowing them to squeeze every available minute, create good habits and do everything in their schedule.
With TimeTune, your routine schedule planner, you can do the same.
It encourages time management based on routines, and is suitable for everyone who values their time. You can create daily and weekly routine schedules, and customise them as you wish. It gives you routine statistics to analyse and improve your distribution of time to increase productivity. Reminders, timers and events will allow you to schedule activities that don’t quite fit in a routine.
You can use TimeTune as a daily task reminder, student calendar, timetable planner, routine schedule organizer, productivity habit tool, daily time manager or daily planner.
Expense-Monthly Budget Planner
iSaveMoney is a free budget app to track spending and expenses. It is a software that will let you create a monthly budget, track spending, and present the data to you in a way that will allow you to have insights about your habit and know how to manage your money better. A powerful, user-friendly software also allows everyone to use the app with ease. This app is a really great spending tracker for people who are concerned about how they spend their money. This finance software will help you manage your savings and debts so that you will be responsible in financial matter and avoid unnecessary expense that may cause problems in your life.
It has a lot of features and functions that will help you to plan your budget, record your transactions, and forecast your budget. These features include a budget calculator to calculate income and expense, budget maker templates, daily transaction monitoring, a budget forecast and more.
This is an amazing personalized app that requires your conscious input on each step to make your progress easier. You get to type in how much alcohol you’ve consumed for a week and the app generates a rating based on the government’s recommendations. The equivalent of your alcohol consumption is even given in running time and number of burgers!
The app also gives you different awards for your small achievements after each week and allows you to track the amount of money you spend on alcohol. So if you need a change in your drinking lifestyle or to be careful over the Christmas period try out this app from the UK’s leading alcohol education charity.
HeadsUp (A Good Game for Christmas)!
Heads Up! is the fun and hilarious new game that Ellen DeGeneres plays on her show! From naming celebrities, to singing, to silly accents – guess the word on the card that’s on your head from your friends’ clues before the timer runs out! You can play this with one other friend or a group, which is great if you are in a big house share! What I particularly like about this game is that it records each person’s/team’s performance, which is just brilliant to watch any devastating attempts over and over! It has 18 themed decks to choose from accents, to animals and movies! It’s easy to download and free!
Check out our winter survival guide
Whether you’re heading home for the holidays or remaining in Cardiff, our guide provides tips on study, staying safe, things to do and more practical advice for the holidays.
Staying in Cardiff over the winter break?
All are welcome at the Cardiff Chaplaincy for Christmas Lunch, which will be held on Monday 25 December at 13:00. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
Some Cardiff University study spaces will be open for the entire winter recess. Find out more here.
Your feedback and help please
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I hope you have found this helpful and I wish you a joyful winter break!
Nichola, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Placement Student.
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