If there’s one thing we could all do with a bit more of this new year, it’s to be calmer. We can’t be the only ones who’d like a little less stress and a little more relaxing, a little less rushing around and a little more deep breathing, a little less panicking about that test and a little more calmly revising the night before, right?
But we also know that’s much easier said than done. Many of us know we need to take deeper breaths or spend more time doing nice, calming things but then something will happen, like a surprise test from your teacher or a bitchy text from your friend or just a really busy queue when you want to get home and suddenly stress takes over.
To make that much easier we’ve collected together our favourite calming apps. Some are all about calm breathing and visualisations, like Headspace and Breathe+. Some are about distracting you with colours and beautiful images, like Pinterest and I Love Hue. And others are about focusing you on the things that really matter rather than worried thoughts, like Duolingo and Noisli.
Best for calming yourself down with colours: I Love Hue
Sometimes we feel stressed out about something and don’t know how to deal with it straight away. That’s fine. But rather than sit and worry about the super stressy thing, use your time to relax yourself instead.
Some people are relaxed by different things, like maybe a nice movie or a walk in the cold. Or loud music or quiet, soothing sounds. But we love looking at nice things when we’re stressed, especially colours.
The I Love Hue app is a colour game that gets you to move little colourful tiles around a screen and create a beautiful gradient. It sounds a bit weird, but play it for ten minutes and we guarantee you’ll feel calmer. Thanks magical, calming colours!
Best for meditation beginners: Headspace
Meditation is a way to stop focusing on things that stress you out and instead focus on something else, whether that’s a specific word, your breathing or nothing at all. It’s a great way to feel calmer and more connected to the world around you rather than in your head.
The thing is, it can be tricky to begin with. That’s why we love Headspace, it’s an app that teaches you to meditate with cute visualisations and step-by-step guides. So you don’t have to be lighting incense or doing yoga at the same time to feel calm. You can get the benefits of meditation on the bus, at school or just before bed.
Best for switching off: Pinterest
In the same way I Love Hue gets you to focus on things other than your worries, you can use Pinterest to focus on great-looking images, dreamy photos of exotic travel destinations, beautiful art or anything else you fancy.
Think of Pinterest as your own personal pinboard that you can take with you anywhere. Next time you’re feeling stressed, start looking for new pins for your boards. Whether that’s travel, hair or just lovely photographs. Happy pinning!
Best for learning to breathe: Breathe+
Have you ever had a friend or family member tell you to breathe when you’re feeling sad or stressed? It can seem like a strange thing to say. We’re always breathing!
But what they mean is that sometimes paying more attention to your breath and taking deeper, longer breaths can help your body to calm down. This is a really important technique to learn if you tend to get stressed out and feel some physical symptoms when you do, like maybe your chest feels tight or your head feels fuzzy. Stopping and breathing is like telling your body it’s okay to relax.
Best for distracting yourself with learning: Duolingo
Some people like distracting themselves with colours, some with images, some with scary movies or throwing paint at the walls. But one great way to distract yourself is by learning something new and luckily the Duolingo app is all about making learning fun.
It’s miles away from the experience many of us get when it comes to learning a new language at school. Instead Duolingo is all about teaching you a new language in a way that feels fun, colourful and like a mini game. Just select a language to learn then work through the different stages. There are words, speech, images and sentences to construct to keep you on your toes and if you keep it up you could become really good at another language over just a few weeks!
Best for drifting off to sleep: Sleepfulness
If your mood is good throughout the day but you tend to stress out on a night just before bed, we feel you. We know how difficult it is to get to sleep when your head is thinking about that test tomorrow or that party you don’t want to go to at the weekend or what you should wear to non-uniform day on Friday.
There are all kinds of ways you can learn to better switch off before bed, but one tried-and-tested way is to download an app that’s created to help you sleep. We like Sleepfulness, which is a meditation app that soothes you into sleep with guided visualisations and meditations.
Best for productivity and focus: Noisli
Sometimes you can’t distract yourself when you’re busy or put on a meditation app or go for a walk to get over your stressed-out mood. Sometimes you need to focus on something and get it done, even when you’re not feeling great.
We like the Noisli app, which you can also use on your computer too, it lets you select noises that help you to focus, like rain sounds, white noise and a whole host of others. It’s designed to help you focus on things, like getting work done, but some people also love listening to these sounds when they’re trying to sleep too. The key is finding what works for you.
Image: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
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