Seasonal stress? Five apps that could help you cope
Christmas is never stress-free, but luckily there’s an app for that
Christmas is a time for giving, for family...and inevitably, for sending your stress levels shooting through the roof.
While the major stress points of Christmas and St Stephen’s Day may have passed, it’s likely you’re still facing a few occasions where your stress levels could do with a bit of help. Most are available on both iOS and Android, so you can relax no matter what your platform of choice.
“Hi, I’m Andy.” If you can make it through the introduction without getting murderous - for no other reason other than he sounds perfectly rational, calm and unstressed - then this guided meditation is worth checking out. You get the first 10 days free - 10 minutes a day - which is probably enough for you to figure out if you can actually get on with it, and then you’re prompted to pay for the monthly subscription (€12.99 for a month, €94.99 for the year or €399.99 for lifetime access - or at least the lifetime of the service). There are different packs, from themed sports and self esteem meditation programmes to single one-off meditations for flying, sleeping, the commute, even dealing with cooking stress. There are also breathing exercises for kids, short programmes to help them focus, or or teach them about kindness. The instruction videos are animated characters rather than happy, relaxed looking people who don’t seem to have a care in the world.
Part mood tracker, part relaxation app, Pacifica allows you to rate your mood daily and will suggest activities based on your mood each day.
It works in small steps: a daily habit tracker that will help you identify things that are affecting your moods; exercises to help you challenge negative thoughts; goals that you can set to keep you doing what you need to even when you don’t really feel motivated enough. There are short mindfulness practices - deep breathing exercises meditations for social anxiety, visualisations, calming exercises.
A full subscription will cost €36 for the year, but there are plenty of free parts you can access if you want to try before you buy.
Digipill works on the basis that you need a single “pill” to help with your problems. In this case though, they are less pharmaceutical and more mindfulness. You start with a single free “pill”, audio that will help you relax, motivate you, help you sleep, ease anxiety, learning a bit of lateral thinking.
You pay for each pill rather than a monthly subscription, and you can always restore your purchases to a new device should you change phone - all you need to do is use the same ID.
Another guided meditation app for those of us who don’t have the first clue about how to get started. Nice relaxed lady talks about the importance of learning to relax and concentrate, elar your mind, etc. The whole time you are staring at a beautiful, relaxing lake. There are also “Sleep Stories”, designed to help you fall into a deep sleep. There are different narrators and stories, from The Waterfall to Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher boring you to sleep reading the first chapter of Wealth of Nations (no, seriously). There’s also a breathing section, that guides you through some deep breathing exercises. Again, some content is free, but the daily Calm exercises are part of subscription model - €499 a month if you take a yearly subscription, €12.99 if you want only a single month and €299.99 for a lifetime.
Smash the Office
If none of that works for you, you could try for some old fashioned destruction. Smash the Office, as you might expect, allows you to smash up a virtual office, taking out your frustrations in a perfectly safe, legal way that isn’t likely to get you arrested. Have at it.