Smart phone apps target stress

Alexus Bomar

According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment, 30 percent of students reported that within the past year, stress had negatively affected their academic performance–for example some received a low grade or failed a class. Within the past year, 59 percent of students said they felt overwhelmed and anxious.


In short terms, too much stress can cause anxiety. Over long periods of time, elevated levels of stress hormones can harm the immune system, cause heart, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems and may lead to chronic anxiety and depression, according to a story in the Atlantic magazine.


Being a college student has its positives and negatives; students enjoy freedom away from parents, but negatives vary, from paying for loans to health concerns such as stress and anxiety.


Here at Oakland University, the Graham Health Center (GHC) is the place that students should go for health concerns or to talk to a psychologist.


Erica Wallace is the Health & Wellness Coordinator for GHC, and her job is to promote ways to stay healthy and manage stress through education and programming.   


One of the most popular programs, iPause, teaches students mindfulness techniques, Wallace said. An easy strategy for immediate relief is taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the moment.


Dr. David Schwartz, psychologist at the Counseling Center at GHC, encourages students to have some form of stress-management or relaxation activity built into their daily schedules. 


Some ways to not become stressed so easily is to practice regular mindfulness by learning to become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations, Schwartz said. It’s good to be in the moment.


Students can come into the Counseling Center for an appointment or join one of the workshops, but can also find an almost infinite amount of free mindfulness and relaxation activities online and through apps to learn better coping skills.


“Self Help for Anxiety Management” (SAM), “Headspace,” “Pacifica,” and “Stop, Breathe & Think” are a few apps available for both Android and iPhone that can help with stress and anxiety.


According to the Google Play Store, SAM is a psycho-educational tool to help a person understand and manage anxiety. It was developed by a university team of psychologists, computer scientists and student users.


“Headspace” is a service that provides guided meditation sessions either online or through a mobile app.  According to the 47 studies analyzed by the JAMA Internal Medicine, or the American Medical Association journal­, meditation helps manage anxiety, depression and pain.


“Pacifica” was number one on BuzzFeed’s “Amazing Apps for Anyone Living with Anxiety” list. This app provides tools to help address anxiety and stress by tracking the user’s mood and providing relaxation techniques.


The final app won the 2015 Webby People’s Voice award for health and fitness. “Stop, Breathe & Think” is a free app that helps users track how they feel on a day-by-day basis. Once choosing emotions, the user will receive a guide for recommended meditations.


These apps are all very beneficial to college students because they all help the user understand what causes anxiety and stress and how to manage it.