Using apps to cope with stress

Westshore seniors and residents have many valuable resources in their community to find information, learn and even get help, while also having the opportunity to socialize and make new friends.

Take, for example, UH St. John Medical Center's Community Outreach department which regularly schedules classes, roundtable talks, health screenings and more “to promote health and wellness in the community” they serve.

Recently Mary Kiczek, community outreach coordinator at SJMC, invited me to join a roundtable “Health Talk Series” presentation with Lydia Gadd, director of Community Services for the City of Westlake, and Bob Piovarchy from the Far West Center, on coping techniques to help seniors reduce the impact of stress and depression.

As I do regularly in my column, that night I shared my experience with the attendees on how Digital World-based services such as Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts help me maintain a level of “connectedness” to my family back in Japan. Being able to see and talk to them in real-time, frequently and on-demand, make the utility of these tools the next best thing to being in Japan and keeps me from being homesick.

With the help of video chat applications – first utilizing an external webcam almost two decades ago and now using the built-in cameras on Power of One devices such as tablets and smartphones – I can cope with my feeling of loneliness and avoid becoming homesick. On the other hand, without such tools I would only get to see them once every three years.

I also found some common ground with presenters Lydia and Bob, who gave their talks before I did. The three of us did not sit down prior to the roundtable presentation yet by the time it was my turn on stage that night, both experts had offered two complementary coping techniques that have Digital World connections – “meditation” and “breathing.”

Meditation slows down your heart rate, normalizes your blood pressure, improves your immune response and provides many other benefits. Breathing goes hand-in-hand with meditation, specifically when you achieve an optimal breathing pattern, adding to a successful meditation session. Want a crib sheet on breathing? Breathe in through your nose for four seconds and exhale through your mouth for six seconds.

There are myriad apps to help with breathing and meditation by offering guidance, nature sounds and relaxing music. I use an app on my smartphone called “Breathing Zone.” It is $3.99 on both iOS (Apple’s iPhone and iPad) and Android platforms. It basically coaches you, using simple yet effective visual cues, to achieve optimal breathing.

Please drop a note to my editor at if there's an app you use to help you practice meditation or breathing techniques.

Keep in mind, although there are countless Digital World tools that claim to alleviate stress, depression and other mental health issues, they are not a replacement for medical care.

Tak Sato

Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 8, Issue 15, Posted 9:06 AM, 08.02.2016