All of us need a little stress relieving help now and then. And while, let’s face it, your smartphone may sometimes be the source of some unwanted stress (ahem…), you have the option of loading it with a few nifty apps that make it easier to clear your head, get much-needed rest, and lift your spirits. Here are five worth adding to your toolbox.
1. Yoga Studio: If you gravitate to yoga for its proven stress relieving benefits–but find yourself stressed out over, say, fighting traffic and hectic schedules to make it to class–this app may be your salvation. Released in October 2012, it offers 30 classes of three lengths (15, 30 and 60 minutes), a library of 280 poses, extensive information on each pose, multiple levels of instruction, and a variety of background sound and music options.
Why we love it: You have the option to completely customize any class or pose sequence to your needs–so you can design your dream restorative practice and take it with you.
Cost: $1.99 (introductory price)
2. Bloom: If most canned ambient music leaves you cold, Bloom–designed by none other than the ambient music pioneer Brian Eno–may change your tune: It allows you to design ambient music–and artwork!–yourself. Tap the screen and unwind with (or work to) delicate sound loops and melodies, as beautiful color-bubbles appear on the screen, overlapping, fading, and yes, blooming. Leave the app to its own designs and it’ll generate ambient patterns for you.
Why we love it: It’s creativity and stress relieving relaxation in one lovely package. Plus, the sleep timer makes it the perfect drift-off companion.
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3. Zen Brush: Find your bliss in the serene movement of brush strokes against a digital backdrop with this elegant, simple app. 62 background templates and three shades of ink are included.
Why we love it: Because long lines, airport layovers and waiting room visits all go by faster with a little meditative, stress relieving art-play.
4. Naturespace: In a sea of apps touting the relaxing sounds of natural environments (crashing waves, anyone?), this one stands out and has racked up thousands of rave reviews for its “3D,” or holographic, sound technology that channels the most gorgeous, exotic locales on Earth straight into your ears (headphones are recommended for the full immersion).
Why we love it: For the unparalleled quality of recordings from real natural environments, and a vast library of tracks, including favorites like Treehouse Rain, Moonflowers and Campfire Hypnosis.
Cost: Free, with 6 free tracks; others available for in-app purchase from $.99 to $3.99
5. Stress Tracker: For serious stress relieving benefits, this app–designed by clinical psychologists and modeled on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–may be a lifesaver. Keep tabs on your stress levels, triggers, and symptoms over time, and learn to improve your well-being through expert-backed, evidence-based action steps.
Why we love it:It’s high-quality therapy on demand–and at zero, or little, cost. In-app extras include Progressive Meditation, Guided Imagery, and Rage Control exercises.