Commentary

Apps To Provide Calm

So, we’re a bit on edge now, are we? It’s hard not to be concerned about the events transpiring around the world. After years of finger-pointing and blame bouncing around the political sphere, COVID-19 levels the field. We’re all in this together.

So let's use technology to find a way to calm our nerves, regroup, and plan safely and smartly.

Here are five apps that can give you the tools to do that.

1. Calm — Because we can all use a big of digital calm for sure. You give the app some input on what you want: help with anxiety, stress, a desire to break bad habits — and  a meditation is recommended to you. There are also meditations for your mode:  Walking, Sleep Stories, Masterclasses and more. Calm also has a large music collection, which is a plus.

2. Headspace — Headspace is pretty, warm and friendly. 60 million people have downloaded the mindfulness app, and you can see why. It invites you in. The guided courses and quick meditations are offered as “your gym membership for the mind"  — and unless you have a hot tub, this may be the next best thing to a beach. The app let you practice silencing your mind and offers sleep music and soundscapes to get you to tune out the social media noise and get some sleep.


3. 10% Happier, designed for cynics, is a “meditation app for fidgety skeptics.” So it doesn’t promise to change your life or make everything better. 10% seems like it has set a low, achievable bar. This app came from a best-selling book on meditation. Says the site: "Life can be stressful — but meditation is scientifically proven to lower your stress levels. We’ll help you stay balanced when chaos reigns.” Seems like that's written for the current state of the world.

4. Inscape is an app built based on a real space. It began as a  meditation studio in New York and then went digital. So if you’ve decided you want to be in a studio with sound and smellscapes but really don’t want to get on the subway, then Inscape could be your digital solution. Unique to Inscape is its solutions playlists, categorized by a list of “issues”: Overcoming Your Fears, Study Chill, Tinder Troubles.


5. Insight Timer. When you open the app, you’ve got a map of users around the world, who are meditating with Insight Timer right at that moment.  Immediately you are connected to a global community. You're not alone. And did I mention it’s free? Not just free trial, but always free. There is a large catalog to pick from: introductions to meditations, intention setting and walking meditations, body scans, and meditations on specific topics including healing and forgiveness.

Which brings me to the critical question worth asking: Do meditation apps actually work?  There are more than 280 mindfulness apps in the Apple app store. Only one of the apps has been studied, but the results were intriguing. After 10 days, Headspace users showed decreased depression and increased positive emotions. So it appears that digital apps can impact mental health in a positive way.

If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed by the constant drumbeat of news, tweets and such, then tuning out of the world and into yourself seems like an investment of time likely to pay real benefits.

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