Apps to Help You Manage Stress

By Tracey Dowdy        

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, stress levels rose in 2015 with 24% of Americans saying they weren’t just stressed, they were highly stressed. Factor in events like November’s presidential election and I feel confident that number is going to be even higher for 2016.

It’s not just negative things in our lives that raise our stress levels. I love to write, but my stress levels are higher after I’ve written an article. It’s not a negative experience but the concentration it requires naturally increases my tension.

Finding ways to reduce your tension levels is important, as prolonged stress has a detrimental impact on your overall health. These apps can help you manage those stress levels and boost your mental health.


Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – the idea that your perception of any given situation determines your reaction more than the situation itself – Pacifica provides users with tools to manage stress, anxiety and even depression by using mindfulness, relaxation and healthy habits. Instead of a “quick fix,” the app focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors and helps you recognize your triggers as part of a long term solution. There’s a Daily Mood Tracker, audio tools and exercises, and Daily Challenges to help you reach your mental health goals. It’s not a “feel-good,” daily affirmation style app; it’s practical, user friendly, and a great resource.
(iOS/Android; free with in-app purchases)


You know how in movies they give someone a paper bag to breathe into if their panicking? Breath2Relax is your virtual paper bag. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises are clinically proven to reduce the “fight or flight” response and mitigate the intensity of your emotions, particularly anxiety and anger management.
(iOS/Android; free)


Headspace is “meditation made simple.” Using guided meditations simple enough for beginners, Headspace promises to help with focus, concentration and mindfulness and will help reduce anxiety and stress. The free version gives users full access to Take 10, the first level of the course. You can track your progress, get rewards for using the app regularly, and partner with a friend to encourage one another. The sessions can be downloaded for offline access and once you’ve mastered the basics, you can opt to move to the next level by purchasing the monthly, annual, or “forever” subscriptions.
(iOS/Android; free with in-app purchases)

The HeartMath Institute has a Stress and Well Being Survey that can help you measure your current stress levels and do a mental health check-up. Although it has been developed by professionals, it should never replace the need for services provided by a medical professional. Always seek the advice of your doctor before following any treatment or regimen. Only your doctor can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for you.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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