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Photo credit: Ma Wovens

7 Apps to Help You Stay Calm and De-Stress

Looking for mental health resources during stressful times or more ideas on how to de-stress? We’ve got a few.

Meditation and Mental Health Apps

Calm: No. 2 in its category in the App Store, Calm offers breathing exercises, daily reminders and “mood check-ins,” sleep stories, and meditation techniques. A one-week free trial is available, followed by a premium subscription.

Calm is personalized to you, easy to use, and offers lots of different choices for sleep resources.

Waking Up: This meditation “course” is led by neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris. There is no music, nor is there an attempt by Harris to transport you to a quiet beach.

Rather, he explains how to meditate, how to focus your mind. Right now, Harris is offering a free subscription for those who can’t afford to pay. (Email support@samharris.org to learn more.)

This app’s pros are its daily structure, lots of well-known guest speakers and authors, and strong guidance.

calming apps
App interfaces from left: Calm, Simple Habit, and Waking Up

Simple Habit: This one offers meditation guidance based on your choice of topic: anxiety, happiness, relaxation, etc. You can also choose from motivational tidbits based on the time you have available — anything from 5 minutes up to 20. It’s free for one week, and a premium subscription is available.

This app’s pros are the helpful time selection and menu tools, and the instructors’ voices are soothing and well-paced out.

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The Slowdown: While not an app, it’s a great daily mindfulness tool at no cost. The premise is simple: 5 minutes of daily poetry. The host, Tracy K. Smith, has a very calming voice, and the poems are super diverse in terms of era, style, and language.

The Slowdown’s pros: I always start my day with the slowdown, but you can end your day with it as well, or use it as a scheduled mindfulness break during your day.

Headspace: Headspace has two modes: a “waking up” mode, which is more mindful and meditative, and a “move” mode, which combines mindfulness activities with exercise like cardio. The app also offers “SOS” meditations for when you’re on the go. It’s free for 2 weeks.

This app’s pros are a wide variety of meditation focuses, for everything from stress relief to pregnancy, and options that combine movement with meditation.

Health-Tracking Apps

Garmin: Besides tracking the miles you put down on a ride or run, Garmin watches also track stress levels. Based on heart rate, a Garmin will suggest resting or breathing exercises if it detects higher levels of stress.

Apple Health: This app tracks mental health data like mindfulness as well as daily habits through data like resting versus active energy and sleep. And you can link it to your other health and fitness apps to track to your full potential.

Google Fit: Available on Android and Apple devices, Google Fit helps you set activity goals, uses recommendations from the World Health Organization to track healthy habits, and lets you set reminders for things like meditation.

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Listening to Your Body and Mind

Positivity and lightheartedness are important, but when it comes down to it, coronavirus is no laughing matter. It can lead to very stressful situations — economically, mentally, and physically.

Quarantines and isolation specifically can be very stressful, especially for those already dealing with anxiety, and can even lead to PTSD and other psychological issues. So this is a time to practice calming measures, especially if you’re quarantined alone. Make sure your body and mind are getting what they need and try to support each other with phone calls, FaceTiming, and virtual check-ins.

China even created mental health hotlines for those dealing with stress/mental health issues during the coronavirus epidemic.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, a crisis, or needs immediate help, call the National Institute of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Have a favorite meditation or mindfulness app we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is based out of GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has been writing professionally for more than six years. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.