STRESS REDUCTION

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The best apps to help you find your inner Zen

From tracking your sleep to advanced analytics for meditation, there are all sorts of apps to help you keep stress under wraps

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2017, 5:31pm

By Li Ming

Everyone feels stressed from time to time; and not all stress is bad. In fact, that is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat.

(The body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response.)

But stress over a prolonged period — chronic stress — may not only affect your well-being but your health too (though you may not know it).

You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. So what are you going to do?

Well, if listening to Weightless by Marconi Union (dubbed “the world’s most relaxing song ever”) doesn’t do the trick for you, there are some apps out there that can help you get your zen on and face the day ahead.

SATTVA 

Most meditation trackers share tips and guides on improving your mediation prowess, but Sattva takes that up a notch with its advanced mediation analytics. Apart from keeping a close eye on your mediation sessions, it tracks mood and heart rate (bpm) via the user’s phone sensor before and after.

To inspire you to meditate on a daily basis, it has challenges and trophies to get you motivated — complete with a dashboard that displays other meditators’ milestones. The app also helps you get in touch with the wider yoga community that you can reach out to within the application. Nothing like some friends to keep you calm.

CALM 

If you’re playing host to an event or feeling intimidated before a huge business presentation, Calm is one you might want plays a great role in building up your confidence levels through its range of guided meditations and breathing programmes.

From themes such as “Calm Light” to “Deep Sleep Relax”, Calm encourages you to meditate to combat anxiety or stress accumulated during trying times. If you have a child suffering from anxiety, the app has a series of sleep stories and best meditation practices to calm their nerves, too.

HEADSPACE 

If you’re a newbie just looking for a starter mediation experience, Headspace is filled with straightforward and simple guidance that helps you find your cool in a world filled with noise.

From the basics of meditating to handling relationships, the app guides via various sessions — however, after completing the “Take 10 Free Trial”, other sessions will prompt you to subscribe, for a fee. The plus? Puddicombe, your Headspace mediator and guider’s voice, is rather soothing to the ears. The fee? S$17.98 (US$12.68)per month and S$138.98 (US$98.03) per year, if you’d like to unlock more collections.

SLEEPIO 

We all know sleep plays a crucial factor to our well-being, and hence even the slightest deprivation can affect your mood or contribute to stress levels. Sleepio helps you address those with its customised sleep improvement programmes based on the milestones you want to achieve, followed by an in-depth questionnaire.

The app has a set curriculum and course — kind of like going through a school term to learn how to rest better — that shares techniques on tackling insomnia. If you have missed out on sleep and logged in your hours for it; rather than sending a typical reminder, it encourages you to try and head to bed earlier.

HAPPIFY 

Kickstart your path to happiness through Happify’s track board that gauges your happiness level. While several apps out there place great emphasis on health, Happify focuses on the emotional wellbeing of the user.

It encourages users to keep a diary of sorts to nurture compassion, gratefulness towards their partner or family member, through a series of mini-games and exercises. In comparison to most apps, these mini-games and exercises instill a sense of positivity through ignoring connotations associated with negativity and clicking others such as “peaceful” or “kindness”. According to its developers, 86 per cent of its regular users saw happiness improvements within a span of two months, so why not give it a go?

PACIFICA 

If you’re having a rough day and you’d like to improve your mood in general, Pacifica introduces experiments to help light up your state of mind. This mood logger tracks health habits that could affect negative dispositions with activities that mirror the techniques of psychologists.

Unlike others, the app has a “thoughts” section that allows users to record themselves and talk their way through — kind of like a self-reflection exercise that keeps you in check. In addition, it also features several audio activities such as Muscle Relaxation, Public Transit and Sleep for just about any kind of stressful situation.

The best apps to help you find your inner Zen