- Apple has a number of features available on various devices (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch) that help help monitor and improve your mental health.
- These include a range of features, from recording your sleep patterns to monitoring your daily activity.
- Reminders available on these devices can also help you create new habits that can benefit mental health.
Tech can improve many areas of your life, whether streamlining your schedule or organizing your finances. You might be surprised to learn that tech can also be helpful for your mental health.
Technological advances are often cited as one of the main reasons our lives have become increasingly busy and stressful.
However, new features from Apple that focus on well-being may allow you to use tech to your mental health advantage.
The global tech giant has recently added a number of features to its iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad devices that enable you to prioritize your mental health and well-being.
Here, we ask two experts for their opinions on six Apple features and how they can support your mental wellness.
State of mind
State Of Mind is one of Apple’s newest features available on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
It allows you to keep a record of your daily mood and emotions, offering insight into what is contributing to your state of mind.
Therapist and wellness consultant Tracy Richardson, MSc, said this habit can build self-awareness, allowing you to notice what is happening internally and externally in your life and take steps to remedy it.
“Using the feature may be an easy way to check in with yourself and assess what you are feeling and how these emotions are contributing to your mental wellness,” she points out. “If you notice patterns or the same things cropping up, then you can use this to implement change.”
In particular, Richardson said when you recognize what thoughts, behaviors, and external factors contribute to your mood, you can learn how to support yourself better and manage your emotions.
Having better control of your emotions is often referred to as “emotional regulation.”
Assessments is another new feature from Apple. Available on iPhone and iPad, it gives you access to the same depression and anxiety assessments used in clinics.
“Using these screening assessments over time can provide benchmarks and an objective view of the state of your mental health,” says Richardson.
She believes a feature like this has the potential to help you identify positive changes to your mental health over time as well.
“For example, over a period of six months or a year, you may be able to clearly see improvements, and make correlations between those improvements and the changes you’ve implemented.”
Of course, using an assessment tool like this to measure your risk of anxiety and depression, should only be a first step in your mental health action plan.
If you are at risk, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider about your results.
The Mindfulness app on your Apple Watch encourages you to set aside a few minutes daily to focus and connect with yourself as you breathe.
To make mindfulness a habit, you can even create a Breathe watch face that encourages you to breathe mindfully throughout the day.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are well documented. It’s recognized as an effective remedy for:
In particular, a 2023 study found that practicing mindfulness with an app could improve children’s mental health.
One of the biggest benefits of a feature like this is that it allows you to press pause on your busy schedule.
“Becoming present, aware and conscious of what you are experiencing within yourself — as you do while practicing mindfulness — allows you to tune into your needs and drown out the noise,” Richardson noted.
“This provides an opportunity for silence, stillness and space; something that has a profound effect on calming the sympathetic nervous system.”
Fitness+, available on the iPhone and iPad, includes a meditation feature in addition to workouts.
Users can choose from 10 meditation themes, including:
“I like how the mediations are titled to focus on different things. This will get you to check in with what it is you are needing right now,” said solutions-focused psychotherapist Gin Lalli.
According to Lalli, a meditation routine can help you:
- cultivate your positive qualities
- strengthen your resilience
- improve your personal growth and development
- and allow you to track your progress
In turn, this insight could encourage you to hone in on a specific problem, behavior or emotional pattern that is damaging your mental health.
If you have difficulty sleeping, you might already be familiar with the function of a sleep tracker. Generally worn on your wrist, sleep trackers use heart rate, body movements, and other metrics to assess the quality of your sleep.
Apple claims that Sleep Experience, available on Apple Watch, goes further than other sleep trackers by helping you create a schedule and a bedtime routine to meet your sleep goals, even during the busiest times.
“Tracking your sleep is not enough,” Lalli said. “All it does is focus on your problems with sleep, maybe encouraging you to over-analyze it when you don’t need to. Creating a schedule [or] bedtime routine is far more beneficial and something I wholeheartedly advocate.”
Good quality sleep is a vital component of sound mental health.
“Consistent and more restful sleep is essential for maintaining good mental health and cognitive function,” Lalli noted, adding that quality sleep has a positive impact on mental clarity and well-being by improving:
- problem-solving abilities
There’s a well-established link between physical activity and mental wellbeing. Exercising outdoors can be especially helpful.
A device like the Apple Watch might encourage you to get out for that walk or hike. One of the newest Apple Watch features lets you track how much time you spend in daylight.
You can also tune into Time To Walk, an audio feature on iPhone and Apple Watch designed to help people walk more often. It includes stories, photos, and music from influential people.
“Physical activity and, in particular, spending time in nature can provide a break from rumination and negative thought patterns,” Lalli said. “It offers a change of scenery and perspective, which can be refreshing for the mind.”
Lalli said she’s particularly impressed with the Time To Walk feature and believes it could help users process complex emotions.
“Stories photos and music allow individuals to express their emotions in a creative and meaningful way, this is particularly helpful for processing complex or difficult feelings,” she explained. “It also has a calming effect on the mind, helping to regulate emotions and provides a sense of comfort and solace.”
Ultimately, mental health is not one-size-fits-all, and what feels beneficial to one person might not for another.
Still, habits like mindfulness, meditation, and exercise are well known for their mental health benefits.
According to Lalli, we often need a nudge to do these things — and helpful tech can be the thing that serves as a reminder.