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Free Apps for Relaxation, De-Stressing & PTS

18 Mar

Hello again.

Well, so I’ve been rooting around, trying to find good apps for relaxation, stress reduction and PTS.  This is especially important nowadays with all our returning service members - many of whom are coming back from multiple rotations (some as high as 8 - that’s a lot of occupational stress, people!) - and the dearth of therapists, healthcare providers and other properly trained professionals available to assist them with reintegration. 

So more and more we turn to the digital stuff.  

And, as with a lot of Army medical discoveries and innovations, this will mightily benefit the rest of us, too.  (Remember malaria?).

As luck would have it, I found some pretty impressive apps, some of them free, at the iTunes App Store. I was taken with the content and interactivity of quite a few of them. Knowing all the effort, time and expense we poured into developing our Sleep Help app, makes me all the more respectful of some of these offerings.

I’ll describe Breathe 2 Relax; T-2 Mood Tracker; PTSD Coach; eCBT Trauma; and PTSD Eraser.  Check it out:  

Breathe 2 Relax  
This is an impressive app that teaches about breathing and stress management, offers a demo of diaphragmatic breathing, and guides a deep breathing practice that can be individually set to your preferred music, video scenery, breathing intervals and the like.  It also provides a pre- and post-exercise stress rating capability.

T-2 Mood Tracker
This app encourages better self-attunement and connecting with feelings by allowing end-users to rate their moods, track and graph their results over time, and send or save status reports on any combination of their

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • General Well-Being
  • Head Injury
  • PTS or Stress

PTSD Coach
This is a pretty comprehensive, well designed, free app that allows users to pre-select friends & support networks; favorite, calming pictures and music.  It offers info about PTS; a self-assessment tool; guided techniques, suggestions for managing symptoms and a place to find resources.

The heart of this app is of course the symptom management.  It randomly shuffles a breathing exercise; progressive relaxation; some plain but decent ‘positive imagery’; a cognitive behavioral intervention called RID; and quite a few suggestions for distraction, grounding and changing attitude/perspective. Altogether, this is a pretty complex and sophisticated app that offers a lot of strong interventions in a fairly simple, user-friendly way.

eCBT Trauma
This ambitious prolonged exposure app allows end users to assess their PTS symptoms, learn relaxation and grounding practices, identify and log their thoughts and feelings, challenge their assumptions and reduce the emotional charge of triggers through progressive exposure exercises.  That’s a lot to expect from an app, being as how a lot of prolonged exposure recipients bail on a live therapist, but even if people only do the relaxation and grounding aspects, they’ll be ahead of the game.  It also provides access to directories for finding local therapists, support groups and educational information on PTS.

PTSD Eraser
This app is a simple guided meditation using deep breathing, locating where stress is held in the body, and imagining blocked energy releasing and flowing again.  It’s really a simple audio intervention with no interactivity, but it’s decent, non-emotional imagery that won’t trigger unwanted reactions from the listener.

So I’m encouraged by these innovative uses of digital technology and the way the DoD and the V.A. are finally putting time and effort into them.  They’re going to help a lot of people, and not just the military.

Take care and be well.

All best,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award