7 of the best apps to reduce stress and anxiety this year

wake up and get out of bed earlier than usual

Most people experience stress and anxiety at some point in their life, and they may want an additional tool to help them manage the negative effects of these common mental health emotions. That’s why we’ve created a list of the best apps to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. 

It’s normal to feel stress or anxiety in acute situations, like when you’re about to take a test or travel to a new location. 

Once the stressful event has passed, so should your body’s feelings of stress. However, these emotions start to become problematic when they interfere with normal daily routines.

The body is not designed to handle chronic levels of stress and anxiety. These can lead to many other negative side effects that can even start to affect you physically. 

It’s good practice to find ways to manage this, and that is why we’ve created a list that looks at the 7 best apps to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Suggested readings 

What is anxiety?

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried, thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

Anxiety can also manifest as a direct response to stress in your life. A few other physiological characteristics of stress and anxiety include:

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness 

Speaking with your physician if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms regularly is always recommended. 

In addition to professional guidance and intervention, if you’re looking for apps to reduce stress and anxiety, we have created a list of some of the best. 

7 of the best apps to reduce stress and anxiety 

1. Calm

Calm app for meditation and breathing

Take a deep breath. This is the soothing, familiar greeting you always hear when starting a session with Calm.

In a world that prioritizes fast-paced living, Calm helps you slow down. The core foundations of Calm are promoting mental fitness, relaxation, and sleep

The app has a handful of different categories that help to promote these soothing states:

  • Guided meditation
  • Healthy sleep habits
  • Music to help you focus, relax, and sleep
  • Gentle, video-guided movements and stretching
  • Soothing nature scenes and sounds to promote rest and focus
  • Masterclass audio programs from mindfulness experts 

Calm truly takes a holistic approach by tackling stress and anxiety from multiple angles. After all, feelings of anxiety are often provoked by many sources, not typically just a single thing.

Calm has been one of the leading apps to reduce stress and anxiety for several years, and it comes highly rated from over 1.5 million reviews.

You can sign up for a 7-day free trial to see if it’s something that could work for you. After that, a monthly subscription costs $14.99.

The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

2. Nature Sounds: Relax and Sleep

nature sounds app

It’s no surprise to most of us that immersing ourselves in nature is calming, soothing, and relaxing. It’s just good for the brain and body and helps us escape the chaos of our everyday busy life.

Those are the principles of Nature Sounds, an app that sweeps you away and immerses you in a world of calming nature sounds!

It’s designed to help promote sleep and relaxation. The app even boasts that listening to nature sounds can “improve creativity, give more focus to do tasks, relieve anxiety, and help stress management.” 

Honestly, who doesn’t like the sound of rhythmic ocean waves or gentle rain on a window. 

Nature Sounds has 80 different sounds that are divided into these categories:

  • Rain sounds
  • River sounds
  • Forest sounds
  • Bird sounds
  • Wave sounds
  • Insect sounds
  • Relaxing sounds
  • Animal sounds

These sounds can be played continuously without interruption, or you can set a timer for any designated length you prefer. 

The app is free to use, but in-app purchases are necessary to unlock all of its sounds and feature. 

Nature Sounds is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

3. Colorfy

colorfy app for anxiety

Within the last five or so years, adult coloring books have become a big trend. It’s true. There’s just something so satisfying about coloring between the lines. 

Unlike most child coloring books, adult coloring books include images with great detail and intricacy. The focus required to complete a detailed coloring page is one of the reasons why they help reduce stress and anxiety.

The app itself (which can be used on a phone or tablet) offers 1,000+ pictures to paint. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re into florals, animals, intricate patterns, gardens, or something else.

You can even select from specific color palettes and brush types, and effects. This is where the digital app version really outshines a physical coloring book.

You can also color offline, so no internet connection is needed. This is great if you’re on a train, plane, or a cabin in the forest that doesn’t get service.

Colorfy has a free version available, but if you really want the most out of this app, we suggest signing up for one of their subscriptions. 

They offer a short-term weekly subscription for $2.99, a monthly subscription for $7.99, or an annual subscription for $39.99

Colorfy is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

4. Headspace; Mindful Meditation 

headspace app

Headspace is another excellent mindfulness and meditation app. The app is centered around daily mindfulness and meditation sessions that help you make this practice a daily habit. 

Headspace offers different categories that you can choose from depending on the time you have or what you hope to work on.

These categories include:

  • Daily meditations
  • Sleep sounds and meditations
  • Stress relief and coping meditations
  • Find focus and build productivity meditations
  • Centered fitness and tension release with mindful movements

There are so many features within Headspace that it would be impossible to list them all here.

You can expect everything from breath work, sleep podcasts, short and long-term meditation, focused music and nature sounds, guided movements, yoga, stretching, and other fitness niches. 

Headspace offers a free version, but to unlock the best features, you need to sign up for one of their subscriptions which are either $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year

The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

5. MindShift CBT

mind shift cbt app

MindShift is one of the best apps to reduce stress and anxiety because it uses the evidence-based techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

The strategies of CBT are complex, and there’s a lot of research behind them. I won’t go into the details of what CBT is, but if you’d like to read more about it, check out what the American Psychological Association has to say. 

MindShift CBT follows the self-help principles of the CBT method, so you are taught to challenge any negative or anxiety-ridden thoughts to reduce worry, panic, anxiety, or phobias. 

It truly is an anxiety management app, so your health and well-being benefit in the long run as you continue to develop healthy habits and practices to keep your stress and anxiety at bay.

Some of the characteristics of CBT that are displayed within the app include:

  • Writing thought journals
  • Changing negative or fearful thoughts
  • Building fear ladders
  • Completing comfort zone challenges
  • Practicing mindfulness and relaxation
  • Grounding exercises
  • Goal-setting
  • Coping cards

You also join a community of other MindShift CBT members where you can learn about others’ experiences and share your own. 

The app is free to use and is supported by both iOS and Android devices. 

6. Breathwrk: Breathing Exercises

breathwrk app

Breathing exercises have been incorporated into many different types of programs that aim to improve one’s mental health. 

There is something centering, calming, and grounding about focusing on intentional breaths. 

Breathwrk uses these principles to reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus, promote restful sleep, and improve physical performance.

They offer an extensive library of different breathing exercises depending on how much time you have or what you are trying to accomplish. 

You can also engage in a full sensory experience by employing sounds, visuals, haptics, and audio cues. 

Such a simple practice can hugely impact your stress levels, so why not take advantage of Breathwrk today!

There is a free version of the app, but it is pretty limited. For iOS users, a monthly subscription costs $7.99 and an annual subscription costs $76.99.

For Android users, a monthly subscription is $11.99 and an annual subscription is $59.99

7. TIDE: Meditation & Sleep

tide app

Last on our list today, but certainly not least, is TIDE. This is another well-rounded app with multiple features designed to help you reduce stress and anxiety.

For those struggling to sleep, activate TIDE’s sleep mode to get soothed by nature sounds. 

For those needing to calm down and focus, choose focus mode to provide a flow of soothing sounds in order to mask noisy distractions around you. 

TIDE also has guided breathing exercises, daily meditation, and mindfulness practice. For those who enjoy (or benefit from) journaling, TIDE even offers a space for that within the app. 

The app’s design evokes a calm sense with its light and airy color palette and clean, minimalistic user face. 

The free version of the app gives you a few basic features, but you’ll undoubtedly get the most out of TIDE by upgrading to a subscription.

TIDE’s two subscription options include a monthly $11.99 or a yearly USD 59.99.

The app is available for both iOS and Android devices. 

Final thoughts

Most of us experience true stress and anxiety at some point (e.g., many times) throughout our lives. It’s part of being human.

However, if you are struggling with these feelings in a chronic way that is interfering with normal, daily life situations, then it’s time to do something.

First, talk with your doctor. Second, check out these apps that could truly be great resources to help you reduce your stress and anxiety. 

Hopefully, one of the apps mentioned here spoke to you, and you can see yourself using it and benefiting from it.

Which app would you pick from our list?


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