Can anxiety apps reduce anxiety?

Uncontrolled anxiety could have devastating consequences for your overall well-being and productivity. However, an increasing awareness of the value of mindfulness meditation can tip the scales in favour of greater relaxation and therapeutic emotional processing. Anxiety apps and mindful meditation apps could provide valuable guidance to anyone fighting anxiety at home or at work.

The neurological base of anxiety
Neuroimaging experiments confirm what mindful meditation practitioners have always known: meditation does relieve anxiety. This relief is not just a subjective emotional experience; it is acutely physical. Meditation activates certain brain mechanisms that provide anxiety relief in healthy people as well as in those suffering from generalized anxiety and depression disorders.

A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience observed that the anterior cingulate cortex, which is the seat of anxiety, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which governs thinking and emotion, both showed activity during meditation. Heightened activity in these cortices during meditation led to anxiety relief, the scientists concluded.

Another study, undertaken at Johns Hopkins University and published in JAMA Internal Medicine, sifted through 19 000 meditation studies in 2014 and concluded that meditation programs could result in small to moderate reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress, including anxiety, depression, and pain.

The value of meditation and anxiety apps
When people feel anxious, distracting worries take precedence over everything else. The brain goes into a nervous do-loop, endlessly repeating stress-inducing thought patterns.

Mindfulness meditation practices, including anxiety apps and anxiety games, help to break this re-iterative do-loop and assist the meditator in meta-cognitively recognising the unproductive thoughts for what they are. As soon you train yourself to recognise and break the anxiety pattern, your emotional well-being will improve.

The always-on environment in which we find ourselves today causes tremendous stress. Fortunately the technology that creates the breeding ground for anxiety and stress also provides answers to alleviating that anxiety and stress. Always-on means having 24 hour access to excellent anxiety apps, produced by specialists in psychology, meditation and neuro-linguistic programming. People no longer have to travel to far-away ashrams or isolate themselves from society on remote islands to enjoy the benefits of anxiety and stress relief. Anti-anxiety games and guided stress relief meditations are just a click away. You can choose from a wide range of interventions, including self-hypnosis apps, relaxation-inducing sound tracks at optimal sound wavelengths, digital worry logs and heart rhythm variability trackers.

The future of anxiety apps
Future scientific research is likely to unlock greater insights into the physical and emotional power of mindful meditation. As virtual reality rendering improves, the immersive spaces to which people can escape will be increasingly life-like, real and vibrant. VR is already being used to improve the well-being of home-bound elderly patients. In the not-so-distant future smart anxiety apps on tablets and phones will warn their owners when anxiety levels are exceeding acceptable readings and offer stress relief via VR or real-time guided meditation, offered by specialists. Or biosensors built into cell phones will be able to scan brain circuitry and automatically launch the necessary anxiety games or meditation interventions to short-circuit the neural pathways involved in anxiety.

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