These days anxiety feels like a constant a companion as my house, and some of my usual coping mechanisms aren’t accessible. I miss you, YMCA treadmill! So right now I’m making do with these helpful meditation apps.
And I’m happy to say that when I actually get a chance to use them, they really make a difference. If you can find a borrowed moment — even if it’s in the broom closet — definitely give these a try.
This app’s been my main squeeze, albeit a rather white-knuckled one, lately. I love how simple it is, and how I’m not constantly bombarded with ads to level up to a paid membership. If you’re a serious meditator looking for lots of content, this may not be for you (although they do offer a multi-day course if you’re willing to pay for it). But it’s perfect for just dipping a toe when you need some calm. (Free, with the option to purchase a longer course)
If you’re new to meditation but looking to really commit to a practice, Headspace is a great choice. It starts with a series of short animations that teach basic mindfulness principles, each followed by a guided meditation. If dig the free intro, you have the option of subscribing to the app to get access to a host of guided practices on different topics, including a few designed specifically for kids. (Free, with subscription required after a number of uses + in-app purchases)
Aura also requires a subscription to access its best content, but it offers a free trial period so you can decide if you like it. Right off the bat, it asks for your goals and preferences to tailor a plan to say, help you sleep better or manage your emotions. It will then suggest short guided meditations to help you do just that. I loved that I could gear my whole app experience around one desired result — falling asleep faster at night in my case. I’m hoping this app can serve as a healthier alternative to scrolling before bed. (Free trial period, with subscription required afterward)
After seeing their ads on Instagram, I finally decided to check out Calm. And I’ll say it boasts the sleekest interface of all the apps. It even reminds you to take a deep breath while it’s loading, which it turns out, I really needed. It features tons of content to choose from, from songs to guided meditations to “sleep stories.” Some of the guided meditations are quite specific, like the one to help you prepare for a big meeting or the one that helps you calm your anger. One even features LeBron James describing how he mentally prepares himself for big games, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to make me into an NBA all-star if I listen to it enough. (Basic content is free, with a subscription required to access full content library)
Our editor Kristen recommended this one on a Today show segment about the best apps for keeping your New Year’s resolutions a couple years ago, and I can totally see why. Stop, Breathe & Think is geared toward helping you balance your feelings, of which I have many these days. It begins with a brief check-in, asking you how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, and then recommends a guided meditation based on your answers. When I use it regularly, it really does improve my self-awareness throughout the day. (Free, with in-app purchases)
This app offers an á la carte approach to meditation for those of us who want to skip the intro and zero in on exactly what we’re looking for. A guided meditation to help you sleep? They’ve got that. A five-minute audio file of a waterfall? Yep, got that too. Or you can just set a timer that rings a bell when you’re done with your silent meditation. Basically Insight Timer lets you pick whatever form of meditation chills you out the most, whenever you want it. (Free, with subscription required for advanced content)
If you’re looking to work on your mind-body connection in particular, this app could be for you. It’s more of a workout app/meditation app mash-up, offering guided virtual classes in both. Like a few of the other apps, it offers a highly personalized experience based on your desired areas of improvement. I love that one of the focuses is postnatal, and that it lets you even choose what type of teaching style you prefer, from playful to challenging. Plus, you can integrate it with your health app to track metrics like your heart rate. Yay for measurable progress! (Some free content, subscription required for full library)