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Who doesn’t feel stressed these days? It’s a part of life and a certain amount keeps us motivated and moving but keeping our stress levels in check is important. We hear, and tell ourselves stuff like be mindful, stay calm and be present and in the moment. No doubt there are many ways to do so but where do we start?
Overwhelmed just at the thought? Finding ways to shift focus and incorporate zen into our lives isn’t a trend — It’s for life and every bit helps. Think of it as training for your mind, body and soul. We know that mental health is equally as important as physical health. When you’ve allowed yourself time to calm down, you’re also allowing yourself time to repair and move forward with more clarity.
This isn’t just a one-off … like anything else you’ll reap the benefits long term if you make it routine. We know, there’s only so much time in the day but luckily there are many ways to incorporate stillness in our daily lives. I’ve even meditated on my commute on public transit with AirPods on.
Want to reduce stress, get better sleep, cope with depression and anxiety, increase work performance, or increase happiness and confidence? There’s something for all ages including young kids to seniors. Here are some of my favourites apps and tech devices (which I’ve tried) so I can incorporate some quiet time on my own time, at my own pace…
Relax Melodies by Ipnos Software
This app has more than 25 million downloads worldwide and is used to help users fall asleep, meditate, focus and relax. Offering over 100 soothing sounds to create personalized mixes that can also be saved to your in app library. Not sure? You can also listen to their roster of soundscapes. Categories help you select what you need to focus on and includes the amount of time each session or program will take. Some require additional in-app purchases. Check out Quieting Your Mind (10 minutes) and 5 Nights of Stress & Anxiety Relief (5 sessions).
Recently the app added Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) sounds, bedtime stories and soothing healing music into the Discovery section of the app. The app also introduced SleepMoves to help you ease into better sleeping. Example: Cooldown for when you feel like you’ve been running a marathon all day and left with too much energy at bedtime. Did I mention this app was created by a Canadian developer?
Casper Glow Light & App
This portable light emits a soothing soft glow and it’s pretty smart. Its ambient light sensor automatically sets the right amount of glow based on the environment, but if you prefer a dimmer or brighter light, you can manually override the setting with an easy twist of the light. Heck, that motion is even comforting! The LED light is warm and does not emit blue light which can be harmful to the eyes.
The light is not meant to be used as a reading light but rather a calming device to settle you into a restful moment or into your sleep. It dims over 45 minutes so you won’t have to worry about turning it off. That timing can also be customized and yes, there’s an app so you can set your preferences conveniently. The Glow light also comes with a charging base. I’ve left mine bedside but the light itself can be portable so you can take it with you for those middle of the night bathroom breaks. Through the app you can also manage multiple Glow lights.
The convenience and accessibility of this app makes this a popular choice for many. Guided meditation sessions vary from 3 minutes to 25 minutes and designed for every level of interest and expertise. Hey, every moment you allow yourself some peace counts! The guided “7 Days of Calm” is ideal for newbies on-the-go and doable even on your lunch break. Collections are neatly offered in categories including interesting content for college students, relationships, eating and breaking habits.
The app also includes images you can select if you like soothing visuals. Go freestyle and select ambient sounds and music for what you need in the moment. Storytelling includes content from voices such as Matthew McConaughey for example. Meditation sessions can also be downloaded to be used without WiFi.
Headspace: Guided Meditation
Get daily guided meditations from one the most popular subscription based meditation apps. While meditation is deeply rooted in history, this company is also interested in studying the science of the practice. Headspace is interested in advancing the field of mindfulness meditation through clinically-validated research. The company reports to have over 65 research studies currently in-field and conducted by external third party researchers with no affiliation to scientifically back up Headspace’s approach to meditation.
It not only guides you through meditation, but also teaches how it works. We like how the site explains “Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgement. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.
Hey, Alexa! Play Rain Sounds for Sleep, Relaxation and Focus
Listen to a light rainfall or other soothing sound that helps you feel more relaxed. If you have an Alexa enabled device, it’s as easy as playing any other genre or playlist available. If you’re not quite sure what you’re feeling in the moment, Alexa offers a list of sleep sounds to select from. I’m partial to ocean waves myself.
With Alexa, you can also setup Routines that set off a series of actions through a simple voice command. Try starting every day on the calm side of the bed by adding a one minute meditation to a morning routine.
Meditation Studio App (iOS)
“Deep Sleep Meditation collection” and “goodnight kiddo” is an app that makes meditation simple and accessible. With more than 500 guided meditations and 6 courses, this app announced two new sleep collections earlier this year at CES. Goodnight Kiddo and Deep Sleep aimed to help both kids and adults fall asleep. The app uses original music composed exclusively for their collections.
Goodnight Kiddo content from leading experts such as sleep doctors to monks and mindful experts including Chrissy Carter, Patricia O’Keefe and Stefanie Goldstein. The new Night Mode feature allows users to toggle the light making it easier on the eyes at night time.
This brain sensing headband announced earlier this year that they plan release in app meditation content and integrate responsive guided meditations alongside biosignal feedback. What this means? Muse is the first app to offer personalized and intelligent voice guidance during meditation that trends to a user’s level of mental activity. It’s designed to provide real-time feedback on brain activity, body movement, breathing and heart rate during mediation. More than 100 guided mediations form renowned meditation instructors (curated by Meditation Studio).