Have you ever felt stuck in your thoughts? Like you’re trudging through word-laden mud and not able to make any headway? You’re not alone.
When work is piling up, children are demanding, spouses aren’t being helpful, and you still haven’t had time to read that book you bought two months ago, let alone enjoy an undisturbed night’s sleep, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation. Yes, there are apps for that.
Regardless of what mobile device you own, calming, thought-organizing apps can be used anywhere, help you gain clarity, and keep stress at bay. Here are 10 great options to consider when you just need to clear your mind.
Before you can begin to clear your mind, you must identify what exactly is cluttering up your thoughts.
Mind mapping, a technique that creates visuals of your thoughts, helps unclutter whatever is creating a mental traffic jam. I like MindMeister because it has an especially clean interface, which makes getting all that junk out of your mind all that much more cathartic.
With the free version of the app, you can create up to three mind maps and have others join in for real-time collaboration. Premium versions of MindMeister start at $5.99/month via in-app purchase and offer unlimited mind maps.
Once you’ve mapped out a thought process, you can share it with others, store it, or drop it into Evernote or Dropbox. You can also export them to RTF, PDF, and PNG formats.
Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress while inducing calm. Breathe2Relax is a helpful app for anyone who wants to practice deep breathing but isn’t experienced in doing so.
The app was created by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. It guides you through breathing exercises and offers the option of listening to music during each session. As a recent article published by Harvard Medical School outlines, practicing deep breathing exercises reduces stress levels in the same manner as guided imagery, yoga, and meditation.
Using scientifically sound principles, Breathe2Relax helps you achieve this kind of deep breathing and helps clear your mind. Instead of guided meditation like some relaxation apps, Breathe2Relax focuses on breathing and stress reduction tools.
Besides the app’s built-in graphing function, it includes stress tracking and other helpful resources. As a bonus, the app is completely free to use and is compatible with both tablets and phones.
Proven to block out distractions, from crying children to phones ringing, white noise is becoming widely used in offices, hospitals and homes to improve focus and induce calm.
With White Noise Lite, you can have white noise on any device while in any location. Completely free, available via mobile, and accessed in a browser, White Noise Lite is a simple, easy-to-use tool that can help you calm down while exercising, working, or running errands.
White Noise Lite offers over 40 sounds and gives you access to hundreds of others via download. From typical white noise sounds to the sounds of rain showers, frogs at night, or even an oscillating fan, this tool has a calming background sound for anyone trying to clear his or her mind.
White Noise, the premium version of White Noise Lite, is priced at $1.99 and completely free of advertising. In addition to the free version’s features, White Noise includes support for background audio allowing you to multi-task with the app running behind the scenes.
Although white noise helps some people relax, it annoys others. If you find yourself on that list, try Calm instead.
As opposed to static-like noise running in the background, Calm offers serene musical notes with calming imagery. In the web browser version, Calm is one large HD video loop of rain falling on leaves, waves rippling along a beach, or particles of light falling from the sky. The same is true for the app versions; just on a smaller scale.
Calm also helps you portion your relaxation based on the time you have available. Are you rushing back to work and have 5 minutes to spare? Calm makes it easy to time relaxation sessions if you’re juggling a full schedule. You can set your Calm time for two, five, 10, 15 or 20 minutes.
The free Calm apps also include a seven-step process that outlines meditation and short audio files containing guided meditations.
The premium version, ranging in price from $3.99-$9.99/year based on subscription level, includes 50 longer, guided meditations and updated content.
For more white noise alternatives, check out these ambient noise tracks.
For some, the best way to relax is to watch aquatic life. From fish swimming between coral to plants blossoming amidst the blue depths, the world underwater is captivating, relaxing and can help you clear your mind.
Unless you have a fish tank at home, it’s unlikely you have access to this calming scene and, even if you do, you can’t take your fish tank everywhere with you.
But Marine Aquarium, a paid iOS app, works on both iPhones and iPads and allows you to select which fish you would like to see and adjust the light settings for ambiance. If you’re in kind of a funk and white noise and mind mapping apps just aren’t doing it for you, watching aquatic life could be a good alternative.
An Android option similar to Marine Aquarium, Marine Aquarium HD (not created by the same developer) is free, and shows realistic underwater scenes. With this app, you also “take care” of your fish, if you so choose, which gives you the fun “responsibility” of feeding them every day.
Unlike the iOS app, Marine Aquarium HD works more like a traditional live wallpaper but lacks fish customization options.
The ability to escape into an underwater universe with the touch of a button is pretty enticing, particularly when you’re feeling stressed.
Recommended by psychologists for decades, keeping a journal is a great way to clear your mind.
Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes it difficult to journal consistently. This app aims to solve this problem by melding traditional diary-like qualities with the digital advancements of today. From your Android device, you can record daily text or audio entries, keep tabs on the weather, and attach files or photos to diary notes.
Unlike similar apps, Memoires: the Diary integrates with your contacts, allows social sharing, and is designed to sync with Google accounts. Additional features include advanced thought flow tracking and geo location capabilities, and (of course) Memoires: the Diary includes data protection and encryption — a fair step above the old-fashioned locking diaries.
For a diary app that works on any device and doesn’t cost a dime to use, look no further than Diaro.
Like other journaling apps, Diaro allows you to tag notes, add photos, and tag locations. Diaro’s cross-device compatibility, clean interface and support for more than 30 languages makes the app irresistible.
Whether you want to record notes and images of people you met, places you went or things you bought, Diaro makes it easy to keep all the information in one place.
One of the benefits of journaling is a feeling of peace when you’re able to reflect on different aspects of life and check how things have changed. Diaro simplifies this process by adding calendar and search features that allow you to find specific notes or dates.
A premium version of Diaro, Diaro PRO, provides an ad-free writing environment, syncing via Dropbox, and the ability to export entries into PDF form all for $3.99 with no monthly fee or subscription required.
A robust app designed to integrate your digital life into a journal, Momento goes beyond simple journaling tasks. It gathers images, posts, tweets, check-ins and other data from social networks to help you “catch up” in your entries.
A feature that far outperforms other journaling apps, the efficient digital archiving function is one that hooks many iOS users into opting for Momento’s paid app versus free competitors. Ideal for getting out each day’s feelings, thoughts and significant events, journaling in Momento is very user friendly.
Momento allows users to upload multiple images, tag photos and notes, check in at different locations, and rate life moments.
Momento was created to pick up social networking feeds, so users can record a thought or idea related to a post without leaving the app.
TouchID protection also ensures prying eyes are unable to access your innermost thoughts.
To sleep, focus and feel better, your brain may need more than soothing music. Meditation, a proven calming activity, enhances relaxation by honing your concentration.
Available on the web or mobile, Headspace’s basic features are free to access and provide an introduction to meditation. The free version includes ten 10-minute meditation sessions and an introductory course on meditation, while paid subscriptions unlock access to subject-specific sessions and additional courses.
Headspace addresses certain areas of life associated with stressors, such as relationships and health, by integrating mindfulness meditation sessions with these situations in mind.
Both timed and short sessions are available for when you’re on a tight schedule, and in-app gamification features provide motivation to keep a regular meditation schedule.
If you decide Headspace is right for you, there are flexible subscription options ranging from an unlimited lifetime subscription for $419.95 to $12.95 for monthly subscriptions.
Available on most devices, Relax & Rest is a guided meditation app designed to help you unwind any time of day.
Rated for its ability to help users reduce stress and improve sleep, this app features three guided meditations created to fit your goals.
For example, the app’s 5-minute meditation is ideal when on a break, while the 24-minute meditation is best suited for relaxing at home. Whether you need to relax at home or on the go, Relax & Rest helps you focus on calming sounds and your breathing. This can help you let go of the stressors clouding up your mind and help you move on with your day.
Like other meditation apps, Relax & Rest features a mixture of high-quality nature sounds and music from which to choose. The app enables you to customize the sounds you hear to suit your preferences and enlists the talent of acclaimed acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton.
Although it doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles found in other apps, such as progress tracking, it is easy to use and effective in helping users clear their minds.
Sometimes life can seem overwhelming. But that’s no excuse to let life’s issues control your mind. Using any one of these apps can help you enhance your ability to remain calm, cool and collected regardless of what comes your way.
How do you find your inner calm? Which are the favorite tools that get you through a hectic day? Or do you depend on relaxing non-digital ways?