Let's cut right to the chase: We have a lot to be stressed out about today.
From the fear of you and loved ones contracting coronavirus to being cooped up at home to unemployment to investments such as your 401(k) taking a nosedive, it's easy to see why many people are more on edge than ever before.
But you can do a few things to improve your mental health, experts say. That includes exercising, proven to decrease anxiety and stabilize mood; listening to meditative music, which studies show can decrease blood pressure during stress; and socializing with friends, perhaps through video chats.
Several apps to download to your smartphone or tablet focus solely on mindfulness and meditation, each with a slightly different approach. Most are easy to use, even for beginners, and in many cases they're free to start.
Even if you take just a short time-out each day to hit the reset button or to help unwind for a better night's sleep, consider these picks, available in both the App Store for iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad and Google Play for Android.
One of the most popular apps in this space, Calm is a meditation and mindfulness app with guided sessions from 3 to 25 minutes long. It has content designed for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced users, including seven- and 21-day programs.
Simply choose a topic that matters to you — such as Breaking Habits, Calming Anxiety, Concentration, Deep Sleep, Focus, Forgiveness, Happiness, Managing Stress or Self-Esteem — and the desired length of the session. Track your progress with gamification elements, such as daily streaks, as well as a tally of time spent meditating.
While the app has free sessions to get you started, subscriptions are $14.99 a month or $59.99 a year. Subscribers get full access to all the instructions, a new 10-minute program added daily, more than 100 Sleep Stories, breathing exercises, relaxing nature sounds and more.
If you have a smart speaker, such as Amazon Echo or Google Nest, ask to open Calm to be verbally guided through a session.