Increased stress has been connected to everything from headaches, muscle tension and sleep problems to overeating, drug and alcohol abuse and depression. And all of those things can rob you of your mental clarity and general quality of life.
There are a variety of solutions, including exercise or taking time to read and relax, but what about when you’re on the go or faced with significant work demands? How can you fight stress and build healthy brain function? If you’re looking for a few moments of clarity in an otherwise stressful day, one that can fit in the palm of your hand, then consider one of these five mind-friendly apps:
One of the best ways to deal with stress, or so we’re often told, is to meditate, but even though meditation requires little to no physical movement, learning how to do it can be complicated. Headspace aims to change that, bringing the ancient art of meditation to over one million users as of June 2018.
What’s the draw? Aside from the calming voice of founder Andy Puddicombe – an author, educator and Tibetan Buddhist monk, among other things – the app is built on a combination of ancient theory, modern science and practicality. The app’s instructional process is simple, helping those who are hesitant about meditation take a breath and step right into a calmer mind.
Happify aims to help uses “overcome stress and negative thoughts,” and based on app ratings, which consistently hover over or around 4.5 out of 5, the three million English-language users think it lives up to the promise.
The app, which also offers a business solution, helps users form new, happier habits that help put a stop to anxiety and stress. To do that, Happify incorporates a series of scientifically based games and activities based on a framework referred to as STAGE: Savour, Thank, Aspire, Give, and Empathize. The end result is the ability to stomp out stress, remain positive and lead an overall happier existence.
Mindfulness may be cultivated by apps like Headspace and Happify, but sometimes reigning in stress means taking control of the things that stress you. For business owners and professionals, the biggest source of stress is the seemingly endless to-do list. When it gets too long, life becomes overwhelming and focus can quickly diminish. For that reason, a solid focus-based app is a must, and Be Focused continuously shines as one of the best.
Fundamentally, Be Focused isn’t built on ground breaking science; instead, it’s based on the tried and true Pomodoro time-management technique, which breaks work into intervals of twenty-five minutes, with a short fifteen-minute break in between each work interval. The breaks ensure that you’re giving your mind the opportunity to regroup and refocus, meaning you get more done in those twenty-five-minute intervals than you typically would if you worked straight through the morning.
Instead of focusing on a single teacher and pathway to meditation and mental clarity, which is fine for some, Simple Habit is built on a collection of mediation habits. Users gain access to fifty free sessions and a library of over 1,000 meditations for a variety of issues, including anxiety and insomnia as well situationally based concerns, like prepping for a big meeting.
The best part, particularly for those that truly have trouble fitting self-care into their busy lives, is that Simple Habit offers five-minute guided meditation practices (10 and 20-minute sessions are also available).
Pacifica is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) exercises. Those who use the apps will have access to a variety of tools and activities that incorporate mindful meditation, mood tracking and relaxation to achieve a healthier, more focused state of mind.
With over 1.7 million users, the app also offers users access to a community feature, allowing them to share stories and get advice and peer-support. Combine that with daily CBT challenges and long-term goal tracking and this app quickly can become a great tool to keep stress and anxiety under control.