Daily life can be stressful. It’s easy to get overwhelmed between work, school, family and everything else you have going on. If you’re looking for a healthy way to slow down, meditation and mindfulness exercises can help you feel more calm and centered. Check out our roundup of 6 of the best guided meditation and mindfulness apps to help you relax.
Find Your Calm with the Calm App
The Calm app is one of the most popular meditation apps in the world, with over 100 million downloads. It’s available on iOS and Google Play, and offers meditation and mindfulness coaching designed to help with a range of problems like anxiety and grief.
Calm allows you to customize your plan based on how much you already know about meditation and how fast you want to get up to speed. You can choose different lengths for exercises based on how much time you have. The app also has relaxing music, nature sounds and Sleep Stories, which tell soothing tales to help you drift off to sleep. (If it’s sleep-promoting content you’re in the market for, check out these sleep and relaxation podcasts, too.)
If you want to try the Calm app, there’s a 7-day free trial with limited access to the features. After that, there’s an annual cost of $69.99.
Clear Your Head with Headspace
Headspace is another popular mindfulness app, with over 70 million members worldwide. Per their website, the Headspace app uses science-backed resources and tools to help users “create life-changing habits to support mental health.”
The app offers guided meditation sessions and lessons to help you learn to be more mindful and to manage stress and anxiety. You can find tools to track your progress and log the time you spend meditating. You can also choose to let the app send you “Mindful Moments” notifications to remind you to take time out from your day.
Similar to the Calm app, you can choose different length options for many of the meditations and exercises. You can try Headspace for free in a seven day trial. Memberships cost $12.99 a month or $69.99 for the year.
Smile on the Inside with Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is an Australian nonprofit that focuses on youth mental health. But people of all ages and from all parts of the world can use their meditation and mindfulness app. And unlike many competitors, the app is 100% free to use.
The Smiling Mind app has some unique features, including tailored experiences for different ages from younger kids and teens to adults. Programs and exercises focus on specific topics and ways to apply mindfulness, including eating, exercise and parenting.
It asks you to choose a regular time each day for meditation (in the morning, afternoon or evening). Like many other mindfulness apps, it also offers a tool to track your emotions and outlook over time. They even offer a “Thrive Inside” program to help people stay mentally healthy while spending more time at home during the pandemic.
Be Mindful on the Go with Buddhify
Buddhify says that its central idea is “you don’t have to find time for meditation, instead it comes to you.” That means meditations can be short and sweet and are framed around whatever you’re doing at a particular moment — like walking or taking a quick break at work.
Another feature that sets Buddhify apart is the “Give” option. This allows you to send a meditation to a friend or loved one, who can then play the meditation without paying for the app.
Buddhify also has 60 meditations for young people that focus on different categories like calming down or growing in wisdom. While other apps come with a high monthly or annual cost, Buddhify has an upfront cost of $4.99 to download the app. Then you can use the free version or pay a yearly membership of $30 for additional content.
Clear Your Mind with UCLA Mindful
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center provides a free app for people just getting into meditation. The UCLA Mindful app provides basic guided meditations in both English and Spanish to teach anyone how to meditate. There are also more specific meditations for people living with serious health conditions.
Another great feature of the app is the informational videos that explain the science of mindfulness and demonstrate helpful postures. There are also weekly podcasts with 30-minute meditations from UCLA’s Hammer Museum that highlight different life topics. The UCLA Mindful app is available for free on both iOS and Google Play.
Give Your Mind a Checkup with the Healthy Minds App
The Healthy Minds Program centers on what it call the 4 pillars of training the mind: awareness, connection, insight and purpose. When you start using the app, it takes you through a short evaluation to see how you currently relate to each of these pillars. Then it offers tools and resources to help you improve in all 4 areas.
The app provides both seated and active meditation guides, which are helpful if you’re at work or getting other tasks done around the house. Currently, the Healthy Minds app is available for free, with no paywalls or subscriptions. It does accept donations to continue the work of the organization.