5 Apps to Help You Relieve Stress

Anxiety feeds on itself.

What may have started as a harmless bit of worry about your presentation tomorrow will start looking for fuel if you let it, until you’re bogged down in panic over your finances, your future, and the dishes.

That’s why it’s so important to nip anxiety and stress in the bud, and create strategies to deal with them before they spiral out of control. That’s been high on my agenda for the last few months, and I’ve been testing out different methods to calm down and let go. These 5 apps are some of my favorites.

With so many daily stressors coming from our phones – emails, texts, social media, and more – it’s only fitting that they actually help us out from time to time, too. Right?

1. Pause

I first came across Pause while playing the game Monument Valley (a puzzle game so visually compelling and intellectually stimulating that it could be a meditation app in and of itself). Pause is by the same digital design studio, and is meant to be a relaxation tool.

Users are greeted by a small blob of color, which they are invited to touch and move gently around the screen. The blob grows as you move your finger, eventually filling the screen. Moving the blob around the screen is ridiculously absorbing, forcing you to slow down and focus, and helping those anxious thoughts fade away. Eventually the app encourages you to close your eyes and breathe deep, and will sound a chime once your set amount of time is up.

It’s simple, but surprisingly soothing when you need to hit the brakes on anxiety.

App: Pause

Price: $1.99

Works on: iOS

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2. Relax & Rest Guided Meditations

Meditation is a wonderful way to manage stress and soothe anxiety, but I find it extremely hard to find my zen without prompting – my mind just races too fast. Relax & Rest Guided Meditations is designed to help you meditate in the space of your own home (or even the office). There are three guided meditations: Breath Awareness Guided Meditation (5 minutes), Deep Rested Guided Meditation (13 minutes), and Whole Body Guided Relaxation (24 minutes).

The 5-minute meditation would be ideal right before a stressful meeting, or as a break on a particularly busy work day. Many reviewers note that they use the longer meditations to beat insomnia.

App: Relax & Rest Guided Meditations

Price: $1.99

Works on: iOS and Android

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3. Happify

I’m a firm believer that you can change your mindset to be a more positive, upbeat person if you’re willing to put the elbow grease in. The makers of Happify apparently agree with me, because they’ve created a variety of activities, games, and quizzes to help you shift to a more positive outlook over time, cope better with stress, or build self-confidence. The daily activities you’re assigned are based on the track you choose, and are gamified to keep you coming back.

The makers claim that eighty-six percent of people who use Happify report that they feel happier after two months of using the app. It’s free to try – so it’s definitely worth it to see if it works for you!

App: Happify

Price: free (for lite version)

Works on: iOS and Android

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4. The Mindfulness App

The Mindfulness App is another app that provides guided meditations, with a bit more customization. You can choose guided or silent meditations ranging from 3 minutes to 30 minutes, and even set reminders for yourself in order to make your practice more regular. It also includes statistics, so you can see how you’ve been doing over time. (This is particularly helpful if you’re keeping a journal, so you can see if your meditation practice is having effects on your overall stress levels.)

The app also has a store where you can purchase additional meditations from leading teachers.

App: The Mindfulness App

Price: $2.99

Works on: iOS and Android

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5. Calm

This lovely app differs in that it offers a course of sequential meditations that you can set to your own choice of relaxing background noises and music. The music is incredibly relaxing (I have Calm.com open in my browser as I write this, and my office has been transformed into an oasis of golden sunshine and soothing … zithers?)

If you need to take a 2-minute break right this instant, I recommend putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your desk, plugging in your head phones, and heading there right now.

The app, with a 7-day meditation series, is free. If you want to dive in deeper, you can go for the subscription ($9.99/month or $39.99/year) and get access to the 21-day meditation series and a variety of other guided meditations.

App: Calm

Price: free

Works on: iOS and Android

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