The best apps for keeping calm during turbulent times
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Whether you’re dealing with turbulence mid-air or on the ground, both virtual and literal bumps can be difficult to handle. Be it lockdown, anxiety at home or anything else that’s overwhelming you, here are nine calming apps to use on a plane, at home or anywhere else you need to find some zen.
1. Insight Timer
With a library full of tens of thousands of free meditations, Insight Timer is ideal for those looking for a wide variety of options. Meditations vary from just a few minutes to 30-plus minutes, focusing on things like getting rid of anxiety or helping you sleep. It has over 200 courses (10-day or 30-day) available from mindfulness experts, neuroscientists and psychologists, and course topics include everything from overcoming smartphone addiction to boosting confidence to guided breathing sessions for stressful times. The app also features sections dedicated to sleep, beginners, kids, music and more, plus meditation timers with interval gongs or bowls.
Download from App Store or Google Play for online access to meditations for free, or pay for the pro package, which includes options to download and access your meditation library offline, the additional courses and more for £48 per year (a 30-day free trial is offered).
With a special section for kids, master classes, breathing exercises and even Calm Body (which offers classes like stretching and warm-ups), Calm is a dynamic app for those wanting to maintain a state of, well, calm. The soundscapes feature, which includes nature melodies, lullabies and even special sounds for those needing to focus, is particularly helpful. The sleep stories (ones for kids and adults), read by celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, are a fun and relaxing way to unwind before bed, while flying or at any other time. Frequent travellers will appreciate stories from around the world, like “A Rainy Day in Paris,” “Exploring Easter Island” and “A Cruise on the Nile.”
Download the app for free on App Store or Google Play. Premium access includes over 100 meditations, exclusive music and the full library of sleep stories, with new stories added each week, for £35.99 (a seven-day free trial is offered).
Start your Headspace journey by selecting your focus: managing anxiety, sleeping soundly, being more active or trying something new. Based on your selection, Headspace will create meditations and courses to fit your needs. Travellers will enjoy the “move” section, which includes specific movements and stretches to do. The sleep radio is another unique feature — it has a full eight hours of sleep audio for serious insomniacs who may wake up frequently and need help getting back to sleep or those fighting jet lag.
Although you can try three basic sessions for free, to get the most out of the app, you’ll have to pay £56 per year (a 14-day free trial is offered) for the new daily meditations, sleep sounds and bedtime exercises. Download on the App Store or Google Play.
Shine has a heavy focus on self-care, helping users to fight anxiety and be happier. With daily reminders and guided mental health check-ins, the app also has a large community of followers where you can join in on positive interactions with others, like sharing how you dealt with insomnia or what gave you a confidence boost this week. I found the “navigating a life change” feature particularly useful when dealing with my new reality of quarantine. This feature allowed me to access a daily meditation and asked me questions like what I was grateful for that day. Shine also has a special coronavirus care toolkit featuring free meditations and an “ask an expert” section.
Download for free on App Store or Google Play. The premium version, which costs £52.99 per year (a seven-day free trial is offered), unlocks a check-in calendar and gives you access to 600-plus meditations, sounds and sleep stories. Purchases also help to sponsor free premium accounts for vulnerable users like healthcare workers.
5. Bloom: Better You
For an app that offers you mindfulness activities that go beyond the hundreds of meditations and breathing exercises available, download Bloom: Better You. Its offerings include moon calendars, daily astrology updates, sleep assistance and a variety of ambient music options for rest, focus and more. My favourite feature is the alternative mindfulness activities, such as mandalas which you can digitally colour.
Start your journey with Aura by sharing how you feel today, such as sad, great, anxious or can’t sleep. Then, tell Aura how it can be of help by selecting if you’d like to improve focus, find calm, obtain healing, promote self-love, encourage personal growth or more. From there, you can select meditations, stories, life coaching, music or sleep help based on your mood. You can set specific times to receive notifications that will prompt you to check in with the app and or get tips to deal with your current mood.
Although you can download Aura on the App Store and Google Play, the personalised mood recommendations and most of the meditations, stories and music are only available for premium users. Premium membership costs £48 per year (a seven-day free trial is offered).
For those not wanting a lot of fuss, Oak keeps it simple (and free). Instead of offering a million different options, the app gives users a small variety of guided meditations, chime and background customizable sessions, breathing mantras and relaxing sleep sounds. For busy parents, business travellers or anyone who just can’t be bothered to dig through hundreds of different options, just click “play” and do a five-minute breathing session or a quick sleep meditation before bed, on a plane or on a break from work.
Buddhify makes it easy for users to select just the right meditation for the situation, pegging itself as the “mindfulness app for those who just don’t have time”. Select your focus area from a wheel with options such as difficult emotions, waking up, sleep, work break, travelling, etc. and you will then be offered appropriate guided meditations. You can customise your wheel categories too, prioritising moods or situations that apply regularly to you. Kids’ content is also available and you can give meditations to those in your life that may need it — they can even listen without having the app, or you can listen to special meditations with them made for more than one person.
With stories, calming music, meditations and transformational programmes, you’ll be healthier and happier in no time using Zen. From programmes on transforming grief to meditation for beginners to finding health to drum journeys, there’s something for everyone. You can also read motivational quotes and select daily therapy options, which are meditations based on emotions like worry, happiness or anxiety. Music offerings range from mantras to crystal healing bowls to binaural frequencies — even relaxing sounds for babies and positive music for kids.
Although some of the basic meditations, stories and more are free once you’ve downloaded Zen on App Store or Google Play, premium access to all of the content is available for £29 per year (a seven-day free trial is offered).
During these incredibly challenging times and as England heads into another lockdown, these helpful apps will help keep anxiety at bay, aid better sleep and just generally keep your mood where it needs to be. Enjoy!
Featured photo by Westend61/Getty Images.
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