There are many ways to find help for stress. You could benefit from counselling, massage, or exercise, for instance. Now, thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones in our society, there is another way to beat stress, as well as anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders.
Portable devices, such as smart phones and tablets, are offering an ideal platform for stress relief. There are apps now for almost any kind of stress therapy, be it meditation, mindfulness breathing, cognitive behaviour therapy, relaxation techniques, colouring in, or online therapy chat services.
We’ve put together a list containing 12 of our favourite apps that are designed to help improve your mental health.
All of these apps are available to download for free. After an initial trial period to see if they’re right for you, you can continue with the free version, or, if you want more access, most of these apps offer a premium upgrade through subscription or in app purchase.
All of these apps are available on both android and apple platforms, making them accessible to anyone with a smart phone. We’ve also included links to their websites, so you can learn more about these apps and the people that made them.
Headspace is a comprehensive meditation app, with guided and unguided meditations to help you through all phases of your life. The free app offers ten sessions, with hundreds of hours of extra content if you love it and want to subscribe.
What users say about Headspace:
I suffer from anxiety disorder and panic disorder and depression plus I’m always super stressed. Headspace has helped me through my attacks and my darkest moments.
I had the worst headache of all time and just 10 mins of this app relieved me of the pain and had me feeling so relaxed.
Can’t describe how much this has helped me! The packs are great and the SOS sessions are particularly helpful to me when something stressful comes up unexpectedly!
Stop, Breathe & Think
Stop, Breathe & Think aims to give you exactly what it says in the title. The chance, and skills, to stop everything, just breathe, and think. The guided meditations cover a range of goals, and are constructed to help you take some time out and concentrate on yourself.
What users say about Stop, Breathe & Think:
Many options for choosing which exercise to do, enter ur mood, list of meditations, and a wonderful self timer that plays a prayer bowl noise when u reach the end. Best meditation app ive found
Perfect! I haven’t meditated in a long time and this app was the perfect coach to get me back into the habit! This app tracks your daily progress and rewards you with ‘stickers’ for your achievements which is a great motivator. I look forward to using this app everyday, maybe even on my lunch breaks at work!
Have had it almost for a year now. love the feature where it asks you check ur state of mind and emotions and suggests meditations accordingly. It really helps me centre during phases of anxiety. The instructors voice is soothing.
It should come as no surprise that Calm is designed to help you be calm. With stunning backgrounds that you can stare at for ages, and a range of meditations, Calm provides a space for you to get away from it all, without having to go anywhere.
What users say about Calm:
I love this app. I’ve been suffering from overwhelming stress. Take 20-min out if your day and look to see how positive your day will be. Thank you, Calm.
I have struggled with learning how to meditate many times in my life. This app has enabled me to incorporate a practice daily. My children also use it, and we are now meditating together.
This app has saved me in desperate situations, when I need sleep, when slowing down on a busy day….etc…. There is something for everyone here and the meditations can be a short two minutes or up to an hour.
Happify is grounded in the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy. As the name suggests, Happify’s number one goal is to help us all feel happier, and more emotionally fulfilled.
What users say about Happify:
I went through a particularly rough bout with anxiety and panic attacks after a recent surgery, and this app really has made a huge difference in my overall happiness and peace of mind. The Uplift game really does change your negativity bias and I’d recommend it for that alone.
This is, hands down, the most helpful app I have on my phone, and in my life. It is an app that helps me understand myself, my purpose in life, and what really matters. I have connected with people in meaningful ways. I recommend it to all who struggle, to those who suffer, and to all who just want to love and enjoy life more!
The app is fun to play. I’ve used it everyday for a week so far, and I always leave satisfied, happified
Pacifica is based on cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation, and has some great benefits, like tracking your mood and your health, daily goals, and a thought diary. Pacifica is great for both stress and anxiety.
What users say about Pacifica:
Great tool to keep track of mood and habits. When I visit my doctor or therapist, I often refer back to the app to report how I have been doing lately. Of the self-care skills feature, my favorite is guided deep breathing.
This app has already done wonders to my life, and I have only had it one week. The mood tracker lets you not only see your baseline mood, but helps you learn to draw attention to just how many moments are great in your life. You can also write what factors are causing your mood.
Life saver I thought I was all alone but when I got this app there was one big group chat, and because everyone knew what it was like, how if felt, they all are sooooo suportive and they give you such good advice to. Thank you.
Mental health issues can affect people of all ages, so it’s fantastic that an app like Mindshift has been developed. Designed primarily for teens and young adults, Mindshift focuses on issues that cause stress and anxiety within that age group.
What users say about Mindshift:
This app is like a personal counsellor. So many apps leave the individual to rely on their own introspection and statements of the obvious. This app is like having a personal therapist help you along when you need it.
It has a lot of resources to help deal with stress and anxiety. The Chill Out Tools are really helpful, if you just spend the time to do it. The advice it gives is easy to forget, so it is nice to have it accessible on my phone.
This is absolutely amazing Struggle day to day with anxiety this app will help. I do not suffer from an anxiety disorder but my wife does. I am always looking for new methods for my wife. The breathing techniques and tools to cope with anxiety has lead her to a calmer state. Thank you to the developers and creators.
Self-Help for Anxiety Management
Self-help for Anxiety Management is better known as SAM, and SAM is designed to help you learn more about your anxiety, build your own anxiety toolkit, and tailor your self-help to your own life.
What users say about Self-Help for Anxiety Management:
I’ve used the breathing timer many times, especially before job interviews and the like. I’ve also used the image reveal to calm myself down when I’m feeling down or anxious. The other functions I’ve used only a few times, but even just for those two, this app is very worthwhile.
This app has helped save me in so many situations. I mainly only use the ‘picture peace’ feature which helps to calm me and distract me while I’m having a panic attack.
Picture Peace is Amazing! This has been a HUGE help for my anxiety. It brings me back down from high anxiety and get control. Picture Peace has seriously been the biggest help of all.
The mindfulness colouring book has become digital! Colorfy provides flowing and relaxing shapes and patterns for you to colour, allowing you time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
What users say about Colorfy:
This coloring makes me so calm when I’m mad. I always go on here to make me calm
This is cool when you have things on your mind. Relaxing and fun trust me you cant go wrong or be messy
I’m a normal 53 year old guy who loves to play golf, watch college football, and basically do guy stuff – which doesn’t include coloring pictures. Then my 23 year old daughter talked me into downloading this app. I love it! Very relaxing and enjoyable to do, and at the end of it I have my own little work of art! It’s great for getting rid of stress and I would recommend this app for anyone who wants to spend a bit of time just relaxing and having fun.
Breathing properly is an integral part of relaxation. Not only does it help to fend off your body’s fight or flight response to stress, but it also helps you to focus and manage your stress and anxiety. Breathe2relax is a fantastic tool for tracking your breathing.
What users say about Breathe2relax:
Great stress reducer This is a very great app for breathing and reducing stress it helps me and for all the features including guided help I love it.
Love this app. It helps me manage my chronic pain level:-) I regret the days I don’t use it. Use it, it works!
Good for anxiety … Practicing deep breathing with this app has noticeably affected my anxiety levels and improved my coping skills. The metronome is a great visual to focus on and you can easily disable audio prompts
7 cups is a fantastic tool for when you just need someone to talk to. Trained active listeners are available to chat with you via text or online, and to be there to help you through difficult times.
What users say about 7 cups:
This is a truly incredible community. A place that everyone regardless of age or place in their lives will find benefit from. Nothing but positivity exists here, and it’s closely yet gently enforced by nearly all members, a self-regulated community which values support and positive, productive conversations and discussion. Whether you want to be a listener and help others, become an invested member seeking support for something in your life with which you are struggling, or just want to pop in whenever
I have only used this app for 2 days and I already am reaping the benefits. I love the 1:1 chats as well as the group chats it is really making a difference. Thank you so much!
No pressure, but helpful This app has made it easier to build short moments of focus on my own well-being during my very hectic and stressful life. There’s no negative pressure to constantly be on it, but it provides encouragement and a helpful structure.
Tapping into the field of psychoacoustics, Digipill offers guided relaxation and methods for approaching real life problems, from quitting smoking and sleeping better to reducing anxiety and beating stress.
What users say about Digipill:
Having gone through a very stressful few years from divorce to bereavement I found my nerves on edge constantly and was sleeping badly. Listening to this app over the past week I already find myself calmer and sleeping better. The cost is very small for the results you get.
Pick your issue and be open to trying something new. After all you still have issues and the old ways just aren’t working. Resilience seems to plant ideas to overcome problems that feel overwhelming. I recommend picking just one area of your life and then keep that in mind as you begin. I listened to this each morning for three days to help find a way to be a better mom for my struggling teen. Ideas came to me that I had never considered. But ideas are nothing if not acted on, and there were messages to help me know that I am capable enough and strong enough. Today we are both on a happier more peaceful path. I l-o-v-e his voice, too. It is unlike any other I have heard before. Maybe that is partially the reason I become open to new possibilities.
I saw an ad on Twitter so I decided to check it out with the free pill. I was wondering how they would get me to relax so I tried it before sleeping tonight. It really works! Of course you have to let yourself listen to what the man is saying and it won’t work for everybody. It’s a sort of hypnotic which is really cool to me. I’m sure if I keep listening to it the more effective it’ll be. Totally recommend! I want to try out the other ones like motivation and concentration.
THIS WAY UP
THIS WAY UP offers apps designed to provide relief for a range of psychological disorders, utilizing extensive research and proven, effective cognitive behaviour therapy. While the phone apps from THIS WAY UP are not free, the online app for stress management is!
What users say about THIS WAY UP:
Thank you for providing such an effective, informative and reassuring facility. I have achieved more in a few weeks with your program than years of medications and consultations, I cannot recommend your program highly enough. I’m 67 years of age – if only this program had been available when I was 17, what a different world it would have been.
As you can see from this selection, there are many ways to approach stress relief, and each person needs to find their own method. Whether you respond well to guided meditation, or prefer breathing exercises and colouring books, there is an app out there that will be just right for you.