It’s ironic that the very device that has the ability to bring stress right to us – our smart phone – can also be used to calm us down.
With a growing number of apps devoted to de-stressing the uptight and anxious, you can use technology to help not harm.
Here a few options for go-to apps when you want to let go, relax and improve your ability to withstand high pressure environments.
Calm: Meditation to Relax, Focus & Sleep Better
Featured in the New York Times, this app offers guided or unstructured meditations designed to reduce anxiety and stress, improve your quality of life, and help you sleep better. Seven days of calm teaches you the basics of mindfulness meditation and then you can sign up for $7.49 a month for a year, or $499,99 for a lifetime to unlock other programs such as 7 days of focus, 7 days of calming anxiety, 7 days of gratitude and more. Feel uber-tension from the cut and thrust of today’s merger melt away with soothing sounds and scenery.
It’s 3am and you’re awake, your brain endlessly processing the day’s stressful events. No problem. Tap into any one of 25 free, high quality, sounds, from a thunderstorm to the sound of the seaside, to lull you into a peaceful sleep. More than three million people have used this app to help them overcome stress-related insomnia. There’s even a sleep timer to fade out sound after a set time. Or why not try Sheep Counter (free) or Sleepbot (99c)? The latter features time-lapse photography of Earth captured by NASA astronauts set to New Age music.
Negative thinking can ramp stress, pain and anxiety so emotional wellbeing is crucial to health and relaxation. This app helps you practice positive qualities such as kindness and mindfulness with specific tips, games, or visualisations. Think of it as training for your brain that will ultimately relate in being more stress-resistant. You can even track your progress with an overall happiness score. Free.
Even medical experts agree that proper breathing is at the centre of all relaxation practices. This app, developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology in the United States, offers diaphragmatic, belly breathing exercises designed to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response and help you reduce anxiety and anger. Ideal therapy when you want to kill the boss. One, two, three, breathe! Free.
Get serious about being a more relaxed corporate player. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the gold standard for therapy that helps change your thinking and reframe negative perceptions. It’s also the basis for this free app that lets you choose a goal – e.g reduce anxiety – and then sign up to get access to a mood tracker, mindfulness and therapy-based activities such as meditation (for fear of public speaking, intense emotions and more) and muscle relaxation and connect with others. You can also track healthy habits like sleep and exercise that, ultimately, lead to stress reduction. A terrific, free, all-rounder.
Developed by Duke University, this is an easy game-changer that trains you to adopt healthier habits - from drinking more water to meditating or practicing gratitude - with user friendly reminders and pep talks. It is based on research about how long it takes to change a habit and what simple every day routines can increase wellness. Free unless you want to upgrade to "Sphere".
The Worry Box
Redundancy, falling profits, cost-cutting measures … put your worries in a box and leave them there. Worry Box is a virtual box where you can record all the things you're stressing about. You then have a choice to let it go or get help. If it’s help you’re after, you can select from a list of coping statements to help you approach whatever’s making you uptight from a different angle. There’s even a statistical graph that you can buy and look backwards to you see how many of your worries did or didn’t happen. Free.
Acupressure: Heal Yourself
Acupressure is an ancient healing art where you use your fingers to press on pressure points on the surface of your skin to stimulate the body's natural, healing ability. The app itself helps you locate the pressure points that'll help alleviate specific symptoms. Use it to release tension from the body to get into a more relaxed frame of mind. $1.99.
No matter what level yogi you are, this free app will let you find your om and release your inner uptightness by creating new vinyasa yoga sequences each time you want to exercise. You choose the pace and time of the workout and each sequence comes with clear instructions and accompanying music.
This story originally appeared in Life & Leisure at The Australian Financial Review.