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Utilizing Smartphones to Improve Mental Health

We know that in many ways smartphones may be contributing to the decrease in mental health in teenagers. But we also know that most teens own smartphones and enjoy using them. Like any tool, they can hurt you or help you. You may be surprised to hear that there are some ways that smartphones could improve your mental health! Read on to learn more!


Mindfulness, or being present in the moment, has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. It may even have a positive impact on physical health and sleep. Mindfulness apps help train your brain to be fully aware of what you are experiencing in the moment. While it is easy to drift off and follow thoughts that pop into your head, mindfulness exercises help to bring you back to the present moment. There are a variety of exercises you can try on a wide variety of apps – these include Headspace, Calm, Healthy Minds, and The Mindfulness App. Give it a try! Don’t give up if you struggle at first, becoming mindful is a journey.


Many therapists recommend journaling thoughts and feelings throughout the week to become more insightful and improve mental health. However, it can be hard to always have a pen and paper with you. Luckily, smartphones now have journaling apps! Once again, these apps have a large variety of exercises. Feel free to start journaling thoughts and feelings onto a page, or chose a prompt. A unique benefit of journaling on a smartphone is also having the ability to include pictures in your journal entry.


Physical exercise and sleep both impact mental health. Exercise helps us improve self-esteem and reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Smartphones can help us to reach our exercise goals via workout apps and when paired with smart watches. With this pairing you can easily track your sleep, steps per day, heart rate, and more. Fitness apps can also be upgraded to include workout ideas. We know that sleep is important for our mental health and if you are between the ages of 13-18, you should be getting 8-10 hours of sleep a night!! Your smartphone and watch can help you track how much sleep you are truly getting, so you know if any adjustments are needed.


Most smartphones come with the function of tracking and setting limits on screen time. If you have a smartphone, go ahead and check your screen time now (this is typically in the settings function). You may be surprised by how much time you spend on your phone. Researchers have shared that teens are spending up to 9 hours on screens a day, and some suggest the recommended amount of screen time is 2 hours or less. However, we know that not all screen time is the same. A great benefit of screen time settings is that is shows how you used your screen time. If you think it might be a little high consider setting “down time” or “limits.” For example, you can limit social media use and/or set “down time” for an hour before you go to bed. Most mental health experts would likely recommend both of these to improve your mental health.

If you enjoy using your smartphone but would like ways to improve your mental health, give any or all of these suggestions a try! Change can be difficult, but stick with it for a few weeks to see results. If you find yourself struggling with your mental health and would like to talk, please know that mental health professionals are available to help you.

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