Photo via EGIZU/Flickr (CC-BY)
If you were intrigued by the announcement of Apple's upcoming Breathe app for Apple Watch, you should know the world of relaxation is already just a button press away on your phone. Here are five of the best relaxation apps for getting through your mind and your work day.
1) Ananda iOS
Ananda is, simply put, the most relaxing $2.99 you can spend on iOS. Whether you’re trying to focus, meditate, fall asleep, or simply dream a little better, Ananda has you covered. Choose how long your session will last, pick a theme (conscious thinking, deep meditation, lucid dreaming, etc.), and start relaxing. Blending nature sounds, keyboard effects, and binaural beats, each session wraps you up in a blanket of fluctuating tones that drown out the distractions of the world.
With simple, intuitive, controls for setting timers and adjusting sound, Ananda is the easiest app on this list to learn. If there’s a sound you don’t like you can turn down the volume, refocusing on the things you find relaxing. The high-quality sounds and wide range of options, including a delightful morning “wake up” feature, will keep you coming back and trying new forms of meditation you might not have ever considered. Each meditation program comes with a description of its benefits and the science behind it, so you’ll never have unanswered questions. Even if you think this stuff is for mindless hippies, Ananda will have you singing a different tune.2) The Mindfulness App iOS
Not everyone has the motivation to use an app everyday without a little push. Mindfulness is a personalized meditation and relaxation app that offers you more than just pleasant sounds—it offers you guidance. Each day you get a different guided meditation, lasting from three to 30 minutes, making sure you never take your journey alone. Track your meditation sessions over weeks, months, and years to hold yourself accountable and find out what works best for you.
Set reminders for yourself based on time or even your GPS location. With regularly updated content, you’ll never find yourself bored of doing the same thing over and over again. The only downside is the cost. Mindfulness has a sliding scale from $9.99 a month to $59.99 for a 12-month membership. If you think about it that’s the cost of a dinner for two, but for people who have never pulled the trigger on a big app purchase before it might be intimidating. Still Mindfulness is one of the best options available for finding inner peace on your iPhone.3) Pomodroido Android and Be Focused iOS
One of the major stressors of modern life is that we work so hard we forget to take breaks. That’d be great if working for hours on end led to better work results, but often it results in wasted time and getting burnt-out. The Pomodoro technique thinks we should work more efficiently and for less time. If you’re ADD, this method might change your life.
With Pomodoro, you work in 25-minute intervals, with short breaks in between. It forces you not to procrastinate, pouring your best effort into your work and then stepping away before you burn out.
For many people, relaxation isn’t something achieved through meditation or deep breathing but by clearing away their responsibilities. Pomodoro makes emptying your to-do list easy while reminding you to take ever important breaks between tasks so you remain fresh. Don’t let studying, the office, or writing your novel get in the way of your life. Work smarter for less time and see how relaxed you get.Pomodroido is a great free Pomodoro timer for Android that, while light on features, lets you keep track of how many tasks you’ve finished each week. Scoring your achievements always makes them just a little sweeter. Be Focused for iOS is a much richer app, with the ability to time your work and breaks, auto start timers, set targets for work, and more. Each of them offers a new world of efficiency. Take 25 minutes and give it a try.4) Sleep Machine iOS $1.99
Do the everyday sounds of the world around you get in the way of your rest? For $1.99, Sleep Machine gives you 103 professionally mastered ambient stereo sounds, from gradients of white noise to rainfall. By layering these sounds over one another and playing with their volume, Sleep Machine empowers you to build your own perfect relation mix.
Sleep Machine also features full iTunes integration, so you can even mix in your favorite songs over the sound of the forest to soothe your troubled mind. Don’t worry about falling asleep when you’re trying to take a few minutes to meditate. The app features 15 alarm sounds and a timer that will pull you out of dreamland to you can get back to your day.5) Essence - Breathing Relaxation iOS
Based on a 4-7-8 breathing technique, Essence is an ultra minimalist relaxation and meditation app. How minimalist? It features a simple tune, a white screen, a growing and shrinking ball, and text that tells you when to breath in and out. Here’s how it works. You exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale for four seconds through your nose, hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for eight seconds and repeat. This exercise helps oxygen circulate through your bloodstream and is perfect for helping escape stress for meditation or simply a good night’s sleep.