The Apps You Need To Chill Out This Year

If you were to describe 2017 in just one word, it'd probably be something like, "yikes." The year has been less-than-relaxing to say the least, and many of us are looking to the new year as a fresh start and chance to de-stress. Perhaps you're even considering a few healthy resolutions to help you along the way, like meditation.

It's okay to be somewhat skeptical about meditation if you've never tried it, because there's so much hype around the practice. Research has shown that meditation can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, help people with insomnia, and much more.

So, if meditation is so great, how do you do it? Well, just shutting your eyes, breathing, and waiting for your problems to dissolve might not be the best route. But listening to guided meditations on a smartphone app can certainly help.

There are tons of apps that offer expert recordings and simple plans to follow that might get you into meditation, and ahead we found the best ones for you to try. They won't make all this year's problems go away, but they may help you go into 2018 with a fresh, calm mind.

Photo: Courtesy of Stop, Breathe & Think.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Price: Free to download, $9.99 per month

When you need a quick break in the middle of your day to stop and breathe, turn to this meditation app. There are short (between five and 20 minutes) guided breathing exercises available, and they'll even recommend which one to try based on your mood. And if you're interested in taking your mindfulness practice to home or work, there's an Alexa skill you can download and a Slack bot you can install and use whenever you need.
Photo: Courtesy of Meditation Studio.
Meditation Studio
Price: $3.99

The meditations on this app are sorted into specific categories based on different areas of your life that you're trying to improve, such as sleep, performance, pain, anxiety, happiness, and relationships. The length of the meditations ranges from four to 30 minutes, and there are more than 30 different instructors — so if you get sick of someone's voice or style, you can always sample a different one.
Photo: Courtesy of Headspace.
Headspace: Meditation
Price: Free to download, $12.99/month

If you prefer a structured course to guide you through the basics of meditation, then consider signing up for Headspace. Try the "Basics" pack first to see if you like it. Then, if you're into it, there are hundreds of other packs that specialize in topics from sports performance to relationships.
Photo: Courtesy of Simple Habit.
Simple Habit
Price: Free to download, $11.99/month

This Shark Tank-famous app was created by a former investment banker named Yunha Kim, who turned to meditation to manage the "extreme stress" of her job. There are more than 1,000 guided meditations on the app, and they're all just five minutes long. As the name suggests, the goal is to just take a few minutes each day to develop the simple habit of meditation, and improve the quality of your life.
Photo: Courtesy of Calm.
Calm
Price: Free to download, $12.99/month

This meditation app has everything you need to chill: guided meditations, "adult bedtime stories," breathing exercises, soothing nature sounds, and open-ended meditations. The sessions range from three to 25 minutes long, and they cover a myriad of topics, including college stress and self-esteem.