Daily routines have been uprooted and altered to help slow the spread of the coronavirus as people practice social distancing and comply with shelter-in-place orders. Adapting to the foreseeable "new normal," of global cancellations, closures and climbing death tolls, is bound to take a toll on our mental health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that taking care of our mental wellbeing is just as important as physical health. The CDC says that finding a few moments to meditate, making sure you're eating enough and getting adequate sleep are good ways to help moderate stress and anxiety levels.
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Sometimes, venting emotions can be therapeutic as we process and better understand our feelings during these uncertain times. Check out these free journaling iOS apps to help you navigate your emotions.
Reflectly is a daily happiness and gratitude journaling app. The free version of the app provides a basic journaling experience. To get started, download the app, make an account and tap Add Today's Story. Rate your day on a sliding scale — Really Terrible to Super Awesome — and choose a reason why you feel that way, such as work, family or relationships. From there, you can pinpoint feelings you had through the day — happy, confused, stressed.
You can go back into your Story and add text, Daily Notes and upload images. Reflectly also lets you add entries for past days.
You can also subscribe to the premium version for personalized insights, daily question prompts and unlimited writing. Premium subscriptions cost $10 a month, $30 a year or a onetime $300 payment for lifetime access.
Aloe Bud is a free app that sends you gentle reminders to practice self-care throughout the day. You can customize the reminders and activities to send as many or as few notifications as you want. The app has a nostalgic, pixelated style reminiscent of vintage video games, with pastel colors.
On Aloe Bud's dashboard, you start with three activity cards — Breathe, Hydrate and Motivate. You can also tap "Check-In" to log the activity. You can see your self-care progress and "celebrate tiny victories" in the activity log. Tapping the + in the top left corner lets you add more activities like taking your medicine, resting and inventorying how you've been kind to yourself today.
The free version of the app has a built-in reminder message that helps you to make a routine. You can upgrade to Premium to access more reminders ($2 one-time payment), write personalized messages ($4 one-time payment) or the bundle package for $5.
The Moodnotes app lets you track your moods to help identify triggers, develop healthier thinking habits, increase self-awareness and reduce anxiety, find new perspectives on situations and learn about "thinking traps." I liked that you can choose the percentages of the feelings you're experiencing, instead of just happy, sad or angry. It also lays out all your entries into an easy format to look for patterns.
The app is free, but you can upgrade to premium features to make multiple entries in a day. You can still go back into an entry and add more detail with the free version. The premium upgrade comes with a seven-day free trial then costs either $10 a month or $40 a year.
Jour: Journal for Mindfulness
Similarly to Reflectly's interface, Jour lets you track your moods and pinpoint why you feel a certain way. If you're at a loss for words, the app offers default choices to input. Jour also helps you make a constructive plan to feel calmer throughout the week. The app has little encouraging affirmation prompts to aid in your journaling and reflection. You can also add multiple entries throughout the day.
The app is free, but you can subscribe to premium to get personalized recommendations for building a more peaceful lifestyle. I liked that Jour lets you keep the free version, or build your own subscription plan — you can pay between $8 and $11 for a monthly plan. There's also a $60 annual subscription plan.
Day One Journal
Day One Journal is flexible on how you add entries — write, add pictures, record audio or record video. You can free write or get inspired with a daily prompt. The app works across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
It also comes with an On This Day feature, so you can look back on past entries. Day One Journal has a free version, but you can subscribe to premium for $35 a year. Premium gives you access to features like audio and video recording, unlimited entries, drawing and more.
The Stoic app focuses on fitting healthier mental habits into your day. You can construct routines throughout the day to better prepare for activities and reflect on the day later. Work through personalized exercises designed to broaden your perspective, view situations with more clarity and build mental strength. Explore exercises for breathing, visualization, read quotes, meditate and more.
The app's features are free, but you can pay for a premium subscription for $38 a year, $7 a month or a one-time $95 payment for a lifetime subscription. Premium allows for iCloud backup, syncing across devices, a password lock and customization of daily rituals with more questions.
The Woebot app is a self-care app that helps you think through situations with cognitive behavioral therapy tools. The app uses a chat format to help you examine your emotions and reduce stress. You can choose preselected responses to "chat" with an AI. Woebot will ask how you're feeling each day and you can type specific things.
It can help with loneliness in the time of social distancing, but it's important to know that people aren't monitoring the conversations. You can tell Woebot that you need help or are in an emergency, but the app will only provide links and phone numbers to crisis hotlines. From there, Woebot will ask if you want to do an Anxiety Buster or Depression Lifter activity, or listen to relaxing music.
More apps to check out
The Reflect Guided Daily Journal lets you check in with yourself daily, and reflect deeper on topics like appreciation, gratitude and relationships. Review your past entries and see them in a dashboard format as statistics.
Sayana: Emotional AI
Choose a goal with the Sayana app, such as reducing anxiety, increasing mindfulness, improving self-esteem or overcoming negative thoughts. Sayana works similarly to Woebot. The app has a seven-day free trial and then costs $5 monthly.
The Mend app can help you work through breakups with audio lessons and guided journaling segments. You can also log any self-care activities you've done that day. Mend offers three plans: $60 for every three months, $100 for every six months or $150 for a year. It also has an AI chat feature like Woebot and Sayana.
The Moody Month app helps you focus on daily wellness and is tailored to your menstrual cycle. The app can offer insight into what's happening to your body and how it affects your emotions, plus ways to motivate yourself and stay healthy. You can log your feelings in the app's journaling section.
Daylio is an image-focused emotion logging app. It's a different take on journaling and sorts your "diary" into easy-to-review statistics.
The Journey Diary Journal app gives you a basic writing template, ways to add media to your entries and various ways of tagging to keep your entries organized and searchable. The app is free, but premium features include more color themes, inspirational quotes and the ability to back up your journal to Microsoft Word or as a PDF. It has a three-day free trial and then costs $30 a year.
Similarly to Moody Month, Caria lets you track menopause with a daily log for feelings, triggers and symptoms. It also serves as an educational tool and fitness app to live healthier. While this isn't a traditional journaling app, it could serve as a helpful supplement app to gaining a larger picture of your overall mental and physical health.
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