Even if you love your job and mostly look forward to heading into the office each morning, it’s impossible to avoid all work stress. Whether it’s a demanding quarter, an overbearing boss, or your social life ripping at the seams, maintaining your cool is among one of the most underrated soft skills.
While your go-to spin class might serve as your therapist, studies have proven that technology can offer a multitude of calming and grounding benefits. Among the most recommended are wellness-training apps that do more than capitalize on your zen, but also help you identify triggers and patterns. As psychologist Antonia Hall explains, “Most wellness apps offer exercises and skills for stress and anxiety reduction, such as deep breathing exercise and mindfulness techniques. The better apps are designed using scientifically proven psychology-based practices and have a support network users can tap into.”
Here are six expert-recommended apps to open up when you feel like you might lose it.
For an app that doesn’t feature many bells and whistles but is rated well by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Hall recommends the appropriately named Breath2Relax. Here, you can use tried-and-true stress-relieving practices like deep belly breathing to reduce stress hormones like cortisol, stabilizing your mood and making you better prepared for your next client meeting.
You have your work priority list, your “someday” list and the list of things you know you should be doing that you’re not doing. Is”learn to meditate” on the last one? If so, life coach Sarah Stewart recommends Headspace as the best choice for beginners, since it provides a step-by-step path toward bliss. “This daily guide takes 10 minutes, calms and centers you, and will help you learn a skill and build a habit,” she explains. Within the interface you can set timers, reminders, choose programs and practice your weak points.
If both your desk and your calendar are color-coordinated, you might enjoy a customizable app experience. Chief engagement and brand officer at EHE Joy Altimare recommends Calm for a more personalized approach to decreasing your anxiety levels. Altimare explains when you first log in, you have the option to choose your background noise and soothing imagery—from waterfalls to the ocean—before selecting a program. “It really lives up to its name: people instantly feel calm when they use the app, and it offers a large variety of meditations to choose from—such as body scan, walking, guided or unguided meditations,” she adds.
Everyone has that pit in their gut: the one that tells them when something is off and you need to address it. Many professionals might feel it intensify during a heated discussion with a colleague or with a specific client, but they can’t nail the root cause of the discomfort. For long-lasting benefits, Hall recommends Pacifica, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to teach users about their personal pressure points. When you understand where your sense of feeling overwhelmed is coming from, you’ll become better equipped to manage it effectively.
Once one issue rears its complicated head, do you find yourself spiraling toward shuttered-door doomsday? Hypercompetitive workplaces can cause you to go into a fit of panic. To tame these naysaying demons, Altimare recommends 10% Happier, developed by Dan Harris, which aims to help develop mental soothing methods. In addition to a variety of programs, themes, and instructors, you can also track your progress, set goals, and more.
While meditation has obvious perks, Stewart explains that organizational apps present similar benefits, since they help you collect your thoughts. When you aren’t worried about your scattered schedule and email, you will spend less time obsessing over the details. For her, the best on the market is Errands To Do List. “You have unlimited customizable folders, your calendar can be viewed monthly with all of your upcoming events and tasks in clear view. Checklists that can be saved and reused,” she says. “If you have a lot of details to handle and have the anxiety of forgetting something, this will be your new best friend.”