These days, it’s hard to unplug and focus on ourselves. We know that stress and anxiety are through the roof, but it’s often very difficult to find time or understand how we can take active steps to alleviate the side-effects of a constantly on-the-go lifestyle. Personally, I like to use my technology to find some serenity in my day, whether that means a relaxing playlist on Spotify or a meditation exercise on my Kindle.
In fact, there are many relaxation and meditation apps available no matter what device you rely on most. The genre is so popular that it can be hard to determine what app would work best for your needs. I have tried out a variety of them, and find that keeping a few different ones available works best for my unpredictable life. If you’re thinking of adding meditation or relaxation to your plugged-in days, think first about your goals and the time commitment you’ll be able to make. There are apps available for everything from quick, five minute exercises to 30 minute or hour long meditations. Here are some of the best apps I’ve found online, no matter what my goal.
Quell is actually a puzzle game, but recommended as a meditation exercise. The calming music and relaxed game play makes Quell the kind of game that can lead to an unstructured meditative state rather than meditation with a specific goal or focus. Playing Quell after a stressful day can help bring down anxiety and release all your thoughts, focusing instead on a repetitious activity that comforts you. If you enjoy your time with Quell, you can now download several versions of the game, including a “Zen Plus” edition.
Self-Help Or “Emergency” Meditation
If, like me, you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety or panic disorder, you know that attacks can occur at any time, no matter where you are. Stop Panic And Anxiety Self-Help gives you tools to combat these attacks, including information about managing your panic and anxiety from home, as well as articles about panic disorders, irrational beliefs, and relaxation. The app includes many audio tracks which you can play for a guided meditation on training your emotions, immediate assistance with a panic attack, and general relaxation. “Stop Panic and Anxiety” also includes a diary section where you can record and track your feelings to better understand your triggers or responses to stress and meditation. Using the audio in this app is even more effective when you play it through noise-cancelling headphones, as it really helps you to tune out your surroundings and focus on yourself and your meditation to a calmer, healthier brain space.
The Academic Approach to Meditation
There are a lot of meditation apps that claim to support Buddhist meditation, without really explaining what that means. Ultimate Guided Meditations includes an eBook that explains the philosophy behind Buddhist meditation. It also includes guided meditations for pretty much any purpose, from worrying over money, to struggling with depression to boosting your imagination or relaxing you as you fall asleep. The app also includes a four part guided course on Buddhist meditation, including a fifth “review” chapter to reinforce what you have learned.
Meditating In Five Minutes or Less
Two major complaints from people who don’t meditate are that they don’t know how to start, or they don’t have the time. Headspace takes care of both concerns in their free Take10 program. Once you’ve got the basics under control, you can buy more programs to either advance your understanding of meditation, or focus in on more specific goals. This app was created and maintained by mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe, who lends his relaxing voice to the audio tracks in the app.
Turn Your Track to Serenity into a Game
Stop Breath & Think: Meditate encourages daily use, including mood check ins before and after your meditation so that you know what you need and whether your exercises are working. The app analyzes your “before” mood and recommends what meditation would work best for you at that time – and it changes based on the information you put in. You are not required to do the recommended meditation, you can choose from any of the options in the library, but it’s good to know that the app is looking out for you. More than that, the app analyzes your patterns to help you build toward a larger goal – general relaxation, lifestyle changes, or becoming more mindful and compassionate are just a few results the app helps you work towards. This app also turns the process into a game, so for those of us who love collecting stickers or achievement points, this is the place we can go crazy while calming down.
If you are seeking treatment for any mental health concerns, talk to your therapist or doctor about adding meditation to your routine. If you try one approach to meditation and it doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to try another. Many of the apps are free or inexpensive, with low-cost in-app purchases if they have any. It’s very important to know that these apps should not replace professional medical assistance, and as always, if you are in an emergency situation, you should not hesitate to call a professional for assistance.
Have you found a meditation app that works for you? Do you use it daily, or just when you want to spend a lot of time looking inwards on yourself? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.