I tried 5 different Recovery Apps
As I've mentioned previously over on my Instagram @the_recovery_bean, I am working on setting up a community ED project, and so as part of my research for this I have been trialling some different recovery apps. So far I've tried out 5 different ones, but I'd love to hear what apps you find useful, or if you've tried any of the same ones as me!
I've not had most of them downloaded for all that long yet, and so this is just my first impressions, but let me know if you'd be interested in seeing an update in a few weeks!
1. Recovery Records
‘Recovery Records’ is the first recovery app I used, as I was introduced to it last month by my therapist as a tool to use for our sessions during lockdown. It allows you to connect with your clinician, so they can view the data you record in the app, however it also allows you to add private notes.
The primary features include the logging of your meals and snacks, which you are prompted to have at agreed times. When you input them, you also record how you feel about what you’re eating, as well as rating the adequacy of your portion, with the option to attach an image. You also use a scale to rate your hunger before and after, as well as your urges to binge and restrict, and any exercise you have done. Further features include the ability to connect with other users and send them motivational messages, as well as being able to complete clinical questionnaires set by your treatment team. The app also sends you inspirational quotes every time you add a log, and gives you ‘prizes’ to work towards such as unlocking music. On top of this you can use it to collate a list of your coping skills, goals, and meditations, and make use of other community features by sharing skills suggestions.
Personally, I have found this app very useful in my recovery, as it has been much more convenient than the paper food diary I filled out previously, as well as encouraging deeper thinking. It has also helped my sessions run more smoothly, as both me and my therapist can look over my intake at the same time, and we can discuss the comments I made at the time of eating. In my experience, my therapist has reviewed my diary throughout the week as well, and so it can provide a bit more guidance for our sessions, as she is aware in advance of the sort of things I’ve struggled with. I also enjoy the fact it sends me reminders at my meal and snack times, as especially whilst I've been self-isolating, it has helped me maintain structure in my day, and keep up with regular eating. I also find that knowing my therapist can see what i’m eating each day helps to keep me accountable, and whilst this feature is becoming less relevant to me now, earlier in my recovery it was useful when I was struggling to find my own motivations to eat.
Mindshift allows you to check-in with your feelings, as well as rating your anxiety levels, identifying the symptoms you're experiencing, and recording the stressors that triggered this response. It also provides information about the different types of anxiety: General worry, Social anxiety, Perfectionism, Panic, and Phobias, and tells you about the signs of each, as well as providing tips on how to deal with them. It also gives you 'coping cards', with messages such as "I can't predict the future, so there is no point in guessing", that you can read through for each of these sub-categories when you are in an anxiety provoking situation.
Furthermore, there is a feature which allows you to learn more about your anxiety and the treatment options available such as CBT, as well as how you can change your thinking to help you deal better with these feelings. It also allows you to set 'realistic', 'specific' goals that are 'not too overwhelming', and avoid 'all or nothing' thinking. It can send you reminders for these goals, but encourages flexibility throughout, and emphasises the importance of being open to change if you are unable to meet them for whatever reason.
In addition to this it has tools to help you manage your anxiety, such as a 'thought journal', and 'belief experiments', whereby you can input your own challenges and your prediction of their outcome. For example, you may wish to test your fear of eating late at night, and so you'd enter this alongside your disordered belief such as "It will cause me to balloon up...". You would then check back in with the experiment within the next 28 days, and be armed with the evidence that your prediction was not in fact correct, thus leaving you able to unlearn this faulty belief. There are also different mindfulness sessions in the 'chill zone' that you can access, as well as a 'facing fears' section that can be used to create a fear food hierarchy, and to identify the steps you'll take to challenge them. On top of this you can complete 'comfort zone challenges' whereby the app will generate random challenges under the headings of 'facing the unknown', 'dealing with perfectionism', 'tackling social situations', and 'becoming independent'.
Mindshift also allows you to connect with your therapist or someone you trust such as a family member, via email. You can select the information you would like to export, meaning they can have access to your 'thought journal', 'belief experiments', 'comfort zone challenges', 'facing fears', 'goals', and 'check in' data, or whichever of the above you chose.
This app is not specifically targeted towards those with Eating Disorders, however the flexibility of it's features mean we can use it to set recovery specific challenges. In addition to this it provides useful tools to deal with the anxiety we feel as a result of defying our ED's, and so it can be used as a distraction at these times. Whilst personally, I do not use this app with my therapist, I imagine it could be useful to inform them of what you are focusing on challenging in between sessions, as well as so they can check on how you've been feeling.
3. Rise Up
Rise Up features a 'daily check in' whereby you rate your different emotions, as well as any actions you've engaged in - including, but not exclusive to ED behaviours, as well as any medication you've taken. In addition to this it has a 'meal log' whereby you track what you ate, where, with whom, at what time, how it made you feel, any ED behaviours you engaged in, and any further thoughts you have.
The app also has a 'coping skills' section which gives you tips and activities to help you deal with the likes of 'body image', 'mindfulness' and 'relationships', as well as giving you 'journal activities', and things to do when you're distressed. Furthermore, it links you to a treatment finder as well as to the 'Recovery Warriors' website where you can access resources such as music, magazines, and podcasts. You can also export any data you record in the app meaning it can be used in therapy too.
4. Diet Or Disorder
On downloading 'Diet or Disorder', the app disclaims it is not able to diagnose an ED and is not a substitute for seeking professional help. You can however, complete a questionnaire on some ED behaviours, and if you score 2 or more it advises you to see a healthcare professional. To help you with this, it creates a 'Health profile' using your data so you can present the necessary information in a way that may be less anxiety provoking for you. It also uses your answers to suggest specific material on the app such as articles, videos, and web links, that may help you.
For example, you can learn about what an ED is through reading about the different types and their features, as well as viewing other people's stories, and looking at formal NHS diagnosis criteria. There is also information available on the misuse of drugs and laxatives, as well as excessive exercise, binging and purging, and then the effects of malnutrition, and the physical risks of ED's. You can also learn about available treatments, and access self help resources, and a step to step guide on how to recognise you may have a problem and how to seek support. In addition to this, the app has articles on how to support someone with an ED, and how carers can look after themselves too. Finally, the app has a list of book recommendations for further reading, as well as offering insights into how ED's can be intertwined with other mental illness.
5. What's Up?
On downloading 'What's Up?', you receive some reassuring statistics on mental illness to help reduce the stigma and make you feel less alone. It has a variety of different features such as tips on mindful breathing, games to help you ground yourself e.g. 'Name 5 different animals that live in cold environments', and a 'catastrophe scale' to help you gain perspective on your troubles.
The app also has a section on 'coping strategies', such as how to identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns, and how to use metaphors such as 'The Thought Train' to better understand your thoughts. There are also 10 tips to help manage your worries such as 'how to recognise false alarms', and 'turning your anxiety into a movie' , as well as 10 simple positive steps you can take such as 'being creative', 'helping others', and 'relaxing'.
Further from this the app provides information on how to better understand and manage anger, anxiety, depression, self esteem, or stress. It looks at the thoughts you may have, the behaviours you'll exhibit, how to identify triggers, and how to alter your thinking respective to each subject.
Finally, the app has a 'diary' feature to rate your feelings, identify your negative thinking patterns, and write down anything else you're feeling. You can also track both your positive and negative habits and set goals to help you monitor or alter them over a specified period.
Like I said, this is just my first insight into these apps so let me know your thoughts on them or any ways in which they have aided your recovery!
More from me soon,
Mais// The Recovery Bean <3