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Meditation, sleep and more: 6 self-care apps to try right now

Calm, Headspace, Aura and more apps to help you meditate and sleep.
TODAY illustration / Calm; Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

To say the past few months have been stressful would be an understatement. Many of us are searching for ways we can introduce more relaxing and mindful routines into our new lives, and downloading some reputable apps could be a great place to start.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of self-care apps that are worth a try to make your week feel a little more manageable.

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1. Calm

Calm is one of the most well-known apps out there. Launched in 2012, Calm was ranked as one of the best meditation apps of 2019 and with 50 million downloads, has garnered quite a bit of buzz. The app is a subscription-based meditation space, including body scans, nighttime stories and classes to alleviate stress, work on gratitude and promote relaxation. With well-known narrators, including A-list stars like Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Rowland and LeBron James, Calm offers meditation for people from a variety of backgrounds.

In my experience: I use their deep-sleep meditations and body scans to help me fall asleep when I’m feeling tense. You can set a time limit so it shuts off automatically if you drift off before the meditation ends (which I almost always do).

Cost: Seven-day free trial, $12.99/month, $59.99/year or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription

2. White Noise Lite

White Noise stays true to its namesake, functioning as a white noise machine on your smartphone. The app is very similar to a beats-making app, but instead of music, it creates relaxing sounds. Options include “Amazon Jungle," “Beach Waves Crashing” and “Thunder Storm,” just to name a few. Users can mix and match sounds as they like to create their ideal happy place. If you want to hear a thunder storm on the beach, it’s at your fingertips! This can be an ideal app for both adults and children.

In my experience: I’ve used this app for some of my at-home yoga sessions when I want to meditate or do a yoga flow with background noise other than the busy sounds of a city. If you use it for falling asleep, you can also set a timer so it stops after 30 minutes (or however long you need). You can even use these relaxing sounds as an alarm if you want to wake up to something more peaceful than your average ringing.

Cost: Free

3. Headspace

One of the oldest meditation apps around, Headspace was founded in 2006. The app prides itself on research-based, guided meditation methods. It’s partnered with more than 35 prestigious institutions, like New York University and University of Southern California, to continue to improve features with studies on stress and focus. Rooted in Buddhist meditation, the app focuses on using some of the quintessential meditation teachings to apply to everyday life. It works on making meditation a long-term goal by helping users find time to schedule it into their everyday lives. The app starts with the basics over the first 10 days, explaining the concept of meditation, and then helps users dive into the experience more deeply.

What may be the most appealing part of Headspace right now is that it’s offering free membership for users who are unemployed during COVID-19.

Cost: Headspace is offering a free year for those who are unemployed; otherwise it's a seven-day free trial, $13/month or $70 annually

4. Colorfy

Let’s get creative! Colorfy is a digital coloring book. Instead of feeling stuck inside right now, Colorfy gives you space to shift your focus to staying inside the lines (or not) with one of their many templates to help you express yourself. You can save and print your designs to add some personal touches to your WFH desk.

If you’re interested in getting in touch with your artistic side, but don’t love the idea of getting expensive art supplies, this could be the right app for you.

Cost: $3/week, $8/month or $40/year

5. Aura

If the idea of committing to an entire meditation session gives you anxiety, Aura may be the ideal app for you. It’s for users that can only carve out 2-3 minutes a day. If you need a quick cool-down after lunch or before a meeting, Aura offers quick three-minute sessions and even 30-second anxiety calmers to give you fast relief. Aura also offers longer sessions with Life Coaching, Stories and Sleep, but if you only have five minutes to get your relaxation on, give Aura a shot.

Cost: $12 monthly, $60 annually or $400 for lifetime use

6. Smiling Mind

If you’re interested in a meditation app, but not interested in the subscription fee, try Smiling Mind. This app was developed by Australian psychologists and is designed for both kids and adults. It’s especially useful for parents who are trying to navigate a more mindful relationship with their kids. If you want to introduce mindfulness to your kids at a young age or want to start your meditation journey in a more digestible way, Smiling Mind is the app for you!

Cost: Free