Everyone may, at some point in their life, feel stressed. Calming apps can help relieve stress — typically through mindfulness and meditation techniques.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing a person’s attention to the present moment. A person in a mindful state observes all of their thoughts and feelings without judgment.
In this article, we look at several apps that may help alleviate feelings of stress or provide techniques to relieve stress.
Calming apps aim to help a person cope with stress by making them more mindful. Some apps may also act as prompts for people to take time out and reflect on life to realize what triggers their stress.
Below are 12 apps that may help a person cope better with stress.
Please note that the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
Calm uses concepts from mindfulness to promote meditation, sleep, and relaxation.
Although some parts of the app are free to access, there is also an option to pay for a premium subscription, which unlocks more content.
A 2019 study examining the effectiveness of this app in reducing stress in college students found that not only did it reduce stress, but it improved mindfulness and self-compassion.
Calm is available on:
Headspace is an app that teaches mindfulness. It encourages daily use to practice mindfulness skills and reduce levels of stress.
A 2018 study looking at stress and irritability levels compared people completing the first 10 introductory sessions of Headspace with those listening to an audiobook on the concepts of mindfulness.
The researchers concluded that the reductions in stress resulting from external pressures, as well as in irritability, were more significant among the group using Headspace.
The app contains some basic content that is free to access. However, it also offers an annual or monthly subscription service for premium content.
Headspace is available on:
Color Therapy Coloring Number
There is research to suggest that coloring can reduce levels of anxiety. Although this research has focused on physical coloring books, it may be that coloring on a mobile device provides similar benefits.
Color Therapy Coloring Number is a relaxation app where a person can pick from a number of images to color by number. There are some free images that a person can access. However, there is also the option to pay for extra content.
Color Therapy Coloring Number is available on:
The Mindfulness App
The manufacturers of this app recommend it both for people who are new to mindfulness and meditation and for those experienced in these practices.
As well as offering meditations, this app has a reminder function to encourage people to make daily mediation a habit.
The free version of the app provides a 5-day guided introduction course to mindfulness, as well as timed meditation sessions.
A person can also pay for a premium version that provides unlimited access to more than 250 guided meditations. Some of these cover stress relief and mindfulness at work.
The Mindfulness App is available on:
The creators of this app describe it as a meditation and mindfulness app for people with busy lifestyles. Whereas other meditation apps require people to find 10–20 minutes of quiet time, this app provides on-the-go meditation.
Buddhify also offers more traditional forms of meditation.
A person can choose to buy a yearly Buddhify membership, which allows access to extra features. Alternatively, they can pay for just the app and access more than 200 meditations.
Buddhify is available on:
Portal is a sound app that claims to help a person sleep, focus, and relax by providing them with an immersive experience. The available sounds range from thunderstorms to oceans.
When a person experiences stress, it can activate their sympathetic nervous system, triggering a fight or flight response. Older research suggests that nature sounds may be useful in helping a person recover from this response after psychological stress.
There is the option to pay for an annual subscription to access the entire sound library.
Portal is available on:
MyLife Meditation is a meditation and mindfulness app that encourages a person to check in with their feelings and then recommends short meditations to suit a person’s current emotions.
The app is free to download and gives people access to foundational meditations. Alternatively, there is an option for an annual or monthly subscription that provides an extra 400 activities, including guided journaling.
MyLife Meditation is available on:
Colorfy is another coloring app that contains images of mandalas, flowers, animals, and more.
It offers different color palettes and paintbrush sizes and also has an option for people to draw and color their own mandalas.
It offers weekly, monthly, or annual subscriptions that give people access to new images to color.
Colorfy is available on:
This app relies on the principles of Vedic meditation, a type of silent mantra meditation.
It is free to download and includes mantras, chants, and guided meditations.
The app offers three types of subscriptions: monthly, annual, or a one-off lifetime subscription. These premium subscriptions give people access to the entire library of guided meditations, as well as personalized meditation and the choice to join global meditation events.
Sattva is available on:
The aim of this app, formerly known as Pacifica, is to improve a person’s mental health. It combines mindfulness with ideas from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors.
A 2019 study highlights that people using this app for 1 month saw an improvement in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Sanvello is free to download and use. However, a premium version is also available that provides unlimited use of all the app’s tools.
Sanvello is available on:
Ten Percent Happier
Ten Percent Happier provides guided meditation and practical teachings that may help with stress and sleep.
The app contains meditations for specific issues and topics, such as anxiety or parenting. This feature aims to help a person find the right meditation for their emotions at that moment.
If people want to access more content, they can also pay monthly or choose an annual subscription.
Ten Percent Happier is available on:
Insight Timer offers guided meditation, music tracks, and ambient sounds.
The app also provides a range of different meditation techniques, allowing people to find the one that best suits them.
People can pay annually or monthly for a premium subscription. This version gives a person access to courses, options to listen offline, and high quality audio.
Insight Timer is available on:
A person should consider seeing a doctor if their stress is becoming unmanageable and affecting their day-to-day functioning.
Although apps may be a good option for self-care and reflection, they can only go so far and are not a replacement for a clinical treatment plan.
A doctor may recommend therapy, medication, or both.
It is normal for a person to experience stress at some point in their life. Many apps are available to help relieve symptoms of stress and help a person learn techniques to cope with it.
However, people who find their stress unmanageable may require medication or therapy. Therapy can help a person understand the underlying causes of stress and learn techniques to make their symptoms more manageable. Medication may also help alleviate the symptoms of stress.