Our busy modern lifestyles have a million wicked tricks for increasing stress, including the repeated pings and buzzes of our smartphones. But with the right app, a smartphone can actually be a tool to help reduce stress and find calm.
Free to try, $13 a month subscription for iOS and Android
One such app is Headspace, which is all about guided meditation. A narrator talks through a mental exercise and meditation session intended to help meet a goal, such as reducing stress or coping with anxiety.
The guided meditation can be a series, which contains several mediation sessions that last from a few minutes to as long as an hour. There are also single sessions to help with a particular problem, like managing a panic or anxiety attack. You just choose a meditation session, make yourself comfortable, pop on some headphones, hit play, and let the soothing narration change your state of mind.
The app is easy to use, with minimalist controls and a straightforward interface. The narrator’s voice reminded me of being read to at night when I was a child. The language used is also easy to understand, dispensing with the mumbo jumbo that some meditation apps use.
You do have to commit to using the app regularly to make the most of it, which may not be easy for everyone. To help keep people on track, the app logs a user’s progress by filling in a graphic as a session is completed, which can be motivating.
Headspace includes a limited number of sessions free; for access to more, the subscription fee is $13 a month.
Free basic version; $10 per month, $40 per year for premium subscription; for iOS and Android
Calm, from calm.com, is a guided meditation app that is simpler in terms of features and menus than Headspace, and more relaxing in its look and feel. Its main feature is the ability to choose the theme that is seen and heard during a meditation narration, with a long list of options like “coastline at sunset” or “fireplace.” An attractively filmed video then runs in a loop on the screen, accompanied by a soothing soundtrack.
Calm’s design and the language in each guided meditation is simple and unfussy. The length of some guided meditation sessions can be chosen to suit the time available, from 2 minutes to around half an hour.
The free version of Calm contains a surprising amount of content. A premium subscription provides longer meditation programs.
$3 for iOS
Another technique for maintaining inner balance is to keep a journal. Gratitude Journal by Happy Tapper puts an extra spin on this idea by encouraging you to make journal entries that focus on things you are grateful for on a particular day. The app has a brightly designed interface, with clear controls and a layout that make it easy to type a few sentences that talk about what you are thankful for.
You can rate each day using a five-star system and include photos or videos. The app automatically appends a quick weather summary for your location so that when you read back through previous entries, you can get a sense for how the weather influences your mood or experiences. There is an option to protect your entries with a code, to keep prying eyes away from personal matters, or you can share an entry on social media if you want to be open.
Limited free content, $4 per month or $30 per year for full version; for iOS and Android
Lastly, the Pacifica app is a bit of a Swiss army knife for relaxation because it combines many different techniques. The app includes a mood tracker (awareness of how your moods fluctuate can help you gain control over them) and a health tracker, alongside guided meditation audio tracks to help with different problems. It also has chat groups on various topics to discuss concerns or experiences, as well as a community section to share tips with other users, such as movies that lift you up or inspiring quotations.
Missing from the seemingly daily allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men, well, are the voices of other men. That’s why I sought them out.Continue reading »
Pop-up retail, once a novelty, is now the norm.Continue reading »
The traditional holiday spending period has largely migrated earlier into November, away from traditional stores, and over to digital sales.Continue reading »
A Boston-based self-driving car firm is headed to the South Shore, where it expects to cart passengers around a former Naval air base.Continue reading »
Michael Trotsky received a pay boost to $470,000 and a bonus of around $185,000 as the state pension fund posted strong performance.Continue reading »
As the holiday shopping season officially kicks off, shoppers may find some surprises at their favorite stores.Continue reading »
The pollution-detection system has outlived its usefulness as most older, high-polluting cars have been fixed or junked.Continue reading »
This holiday season, mom-and-pop shops threaten the mallContinue reading »
If you are shopping for a new television, Black Friday really is the best time to buy one.Continue reading »