Manage stress and anxiety through mindfulness: Beginners’ apps to meditation

A screenshot of the Headspace app interface and Headspace animations, showing a lists of “packs” the app offers, captured by Teen Vouge.

Anxiety has now surpassed depression as the leading mental health issue among college students, according to a Penn State study. The symptoms of stress and anxiety look different on everyone, from insomnia or an accelerated heart rate to crippling anxiety that interferes with daily life. Simplified, anxiety is fixating on or excessively thinking about aspects of life that causes you to worry, then blowing this worry out of proportion.

Living in the moment is oftentimes easier said than done but mindfulness is exactly that: living in the moment. An anxious mind is clouded and constantly busy, mindfulness takes you out of your head, quiets your thoughts and places you in the present moment.

Stress is inevitable, so what if we could manage stress before it manages you? Mindfulness can be used as a tool to combat stress and anxiety. Getting into the habit of being mindful can be difficult. Thankfully there are a few apps on the market that help the process.

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Stop, Breathe & Think

Available for ios and Android – FREE

Stop, Breathe & Think is one of the best rated (and free) meditation apps out. The app encourages users to STOP: what you are doing. Check in with what you are thinking and how you are feeling. BREATHE: practice mindful breathing to create space between your thoughts, emotions and reactions. THINK: Broaden your perspective and strengthen your force field of peace with personalized meditations and activities.

There are 27 guided breathing exercises that range from three to ten minutes and are categorized by your need: to heal, sleep, chill, gain resilience and more. Just plug in your headphones and these short activities help you find peace of mind anywhere.

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A screenshot of the Calm logo and app interface displaying various meditation programs on the homescreen by calm.com

Calm: Meditation

Available on ios and Android – FREE

Calm is a guided meditation and mindfulness app designed to bring clarity, joy and peace to your daily life by concentrating on your body. When you open the app, soothing music begins to play behind photographs of various scenery. From there, you can choose guided meditations varying from 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes and choose your desired topic: mindfulness at college, calming anxiety, managing stress, breaking habits, self-esteem and more.

With Calm, you can pick the voice that guides your sessions and has a meditation calendar that shows you how many times you’ve meditated. The app contains sleep stories that help to put you to sleep and keep you asleep. If you enjoy the free version, you can upgrade to a monthly subscription to expand on their programs.

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Headspace: Meditation

Available on ios, Android and Amazon – FREE

Headspace offers guided meditations that come in packs, each one holding a guided meditation to do consecutively, every day. You can pick your pack based on your personal goals – stress management, acceptance, change, happiness, etc. and your pack will help you work towards that specific goal. Headspace is best for beginners who want to practice meditation every single day and incorporate it into their lifestyle.

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