If I’m being honest, one of the best ways to cut back on stress is to put down the phone and reach for a book, but this is a post about apps. A lot of them (especially social media) are good for killing time but don’t leave me fulfilled. And while some provide temporary distraction, once I close them, whatever stresses had been lurking pop up again.
These apps have helped me to focus, clear my head, and get my stress under control. They may not work for you, but I hope you’ll get an idea or two.
Tide – Android and iOS apps + browser add-ons
Tide is a multi-use sound app that can function as a pomodoro timer, a meditation timer, un-timed background noise, or a sleep timer. Choose from their library of free sounds, or upgrade for premium options. I opted into a free trial and found I didn’t use it enough to justify the cost, but if this is an app you use daily, it might be worth it if there’s a particular sound you like enough. I wish they would allow outright purchasing of certain pro sounds, like the cave and bamboo.
Your Tide account syncs with your devices, so you always have your library and usage history.
Zen Sounds – Alexa skill
Besides Spotify, this is my most used Alexa skill. I’ll put it on for hours while I’m working or reading. Opening the ski ll will bring up a menu of sound options. Once you know your favorites, skip the menu and go right to a specific sound. Say Alexa, ask Zen Sounds to play [sound name].
My personal favorites are Himalaya, Cosmic, Delta (great at night), and Japanese Garden (I love this for writing).
Oak Meditation – iOS app
If you’re looking for a simple meditation app for iOS, Oak might be the one. I’ve tried popular apps like Calm and headspace but find them overwhelming. Oak has what you need and nothing more. It offers guided meditation and unguided timers, and a calm interface.
Plum Village – iOS and Android app
This app is developed by Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery and contains guided meditations, talks, and also free background sounds you can use for a relaxation, meditation, or focus. I especially like the 10-minute unguided meditation timer and the rainfall sound.
It’s such a pretty app and thoughtfully designed! The app itself is free, and if you would like to support them, they accept donations.
Get the Plum Village app (for iOS and Android)
Honorable mention: Notion – app and website
Notion gets a place on this list for helping me to gain perspective on my life. A few months ago, I took a weekend to migrate my Trello boards, various Google Docs, databases, and handwritten to-do lists into the program. I set up landing pages for the major areas of my life including home, events I manage, my writing, my freelance work, my garden, gift lists, recipes I constantly use, random pieces of information I don’t want to forget, and a floating to-do list. I could feel my stress drop as I created a virtual system for my life. I have Notion on my phone and iPad, and I access it from my personal and work computers.
I’ve started to use it for work because it’s easier to navigate between searchable Notion pages then scour my computer and Google Drive to see where I put a document. My assistant loves it too.