The holidays are a wonderful time of family and festivities, but they can also be a source of great stress. With that in mind, check out these five smartphones apps that will help relieve your holiday headaches with simple exercises, packing lists and two minute trips to the beach.
Calm-Meditation and Relaxation (Free, iPhone, in app purchases for pro use is $9.99 per year)
On iTunes and calm.com
Leave behind the crowded malls and endless lines for the sun setting on the ocean, waves lapping against the sand or a pristine mountain lake. With 2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minute guided meditations, the Calm app reduces stress and increases calm.
Available for iPhone and also on the web, open the app and choose a serene scene for your viewing pleasure. It’s worth running through the options since just picturing these idyllic locations will boost your zen. Options include waves crashing on a beach at sunset, rain falling through trees, suspended water droplets, gentle turquoise oceans and a soft breeze blowing wheat on a sunny day. Feeling better already, right? The scenes are in high definition video making your smartphone or computer screen as close to the real thing as possible. Spa like music and soothing natural sounds provide a peaceful soundtrack for each scene.
Choose the five minute “7 Steps of Calm” guided meditation, or pick from non guided timed versions. Select your scene then it fills the screen for your chosen time and in no time you are transported of a world of calm.
Packing Pro ( $0.99, iPhone and iPad)
Along with shopping lists and yuletide cheer, the holidays also mean lots of travel. Packing can be stressful enough, let alone when you arrive at your destination only to discover you forgot to bring along underwear. So, to help you stress about one less thing, enter the Packing Pro App.
Packing Pro has been featured in Apple’s “10 Essentials” and seen on CNN, BBC, Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure, Mashable and more. The app is filled with pre-loaded packing lists that include different trips from weekend getaways to family vacations. You can also create you own tips and lists.
Once you pick you packing list, customize it with the number of adults and children, days you will be traveling, your location’s temperature and whether the location is international or domestic. Pre-loaded categories appear so you can check off items of clothing, toiletries and gadgets. Another nice feature is the pre-trip section that includes reminders to buy and confirm air tickets, and ensure your passport is up to date. The app is also helpful when packing to go home, so you can be sure not to leave anything behind.
Breathing Zone ($3.99, iPhone, Android)
On iTunes and Google Play
Perhaps your shopping list is a mile long, or maybe your flight just got cancelled. Either way, this season you might want to try the Breathing Zone app since it promises to leave you less stressed in only five minutes. This app gets the Harvard Medical School Health Publication stamp of approval along with the American Journal of Hypertension and Lifehacker.com.
The Breathing Zone app slows your breathing as it asks you to follow an animated, multicolored, flower like image on your screen as it expands and contracts. A calming voice tells you to breathe in and out along with the pattern of the flower while your phone’s microphone analyses your breathing rate.
You can do this exercise anywhere, and the process helps to get more oxygen to your body while calming your nerves. Over time these breathing exercises can even have positive effects on your health like lowering your blood pressure.
5 Minute Headache Relief (Free lite version, $4.99 for a paid version, Android)
While you might think your visiting in-laws are the culprit, neck tension is actually one of the biggest causes of pounding headaches. The “5 Minute headache relief” app takes you through four steps designed to relieve neck tension in 5 minute. Detailed instructions and illustrations make it easy to follow along, and the app features a timer for each exercise along with a relaxing, even thought provoking, quote to ponder. These exercises are perfect to do while waiting in line at the mall or can even relieve your headache from online shopping.
Stress Tracker (Free, iPhone)
A team of clinical psychologists created the Stress Tracker app, which uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy steps and journaling about stressors to help reduce anxiety. You’ll learn to manage and relieve stress through identifying and tracking the sources of your stress.
Use the app daily to rate your stress level on a scale of 1-10. Add your rating to your diary and the app provides drop down menus allowing you to identify the sources of your stress (like work, family or financial) along with notes about how you are feeling. Use the app frequently, and over time you will gain insight into your top stress sources, stress symptoms and your lifestyle conditions that contribute to stress. Charts and graphs display your history and stress trends for each day, week and month, along with an hourly average. This data gives you the ability to associate life events with your feelings in order to look for solutions.
For under $2 users can make in-app purchases of voice guided programs like Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Guided Imagery and even Rage Control Programs.
So when the holiday hustle and bustle starts to raise you anxiety levels, try one of these five apps to bring you back to sanity. Maybe it’s a quick trip to tropical waters with the sounds of lapping waves to calm your nerves, packing lists to de-stress trips to the airport or simple exercises to slow your breathing. With these apps may your holidays be merry, bright and maybe just a little more relaxed.