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The 9 best mindfulness and meditation apps to ease anxiety and stress

From ancient Sanskrit rituals to soothing bedtime stories, these are the apps to tune in to when you want to switch off

Whether you’re a long-time subscriber to the practice of meditation or looking for new ways to alleviate stress and anxiety during these strange and uncertain times, there’s no doubt that setting aside some time to unwind and focus on your breathing can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. From guided meditation sessions to interactive mindfulness exercises and tracks that tap into the frequencies of your brain waves, there are now more ways than ever to switch off. We’ve rounded up the best meditation apps to boost your wellbeing at the touch of a button.

Mara Hoffman
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Headspace

One of the most popular and longest running mindfulness apps on the market, Headspace promises to teach you the life-changing skills of meditation in just a few minutes a day. Beginners should start with the free 10-day Basics pack, which guides you through the essentials of mindfulness and offers a solid foundation to build your practice on. There’s plenty for the more advanced user too, from sessions ranging from one to 10 minutes, guided visualisations and even special downloads for children. In light of the current Coronavirus crisis, the app is also offering its Weathering the Storm package for free, which combines guided meditations with sleep and movement exercises, as well as providing free access to Headspace Plus for all NHS healthcare professionals.
Free to download, subscription packages from £9.99 per month
headspace.com

Calm

This multi-faceted app offers everything from sessions on reducing anxiety and easing sleep troubles to improving focus at work and boosting confidence. It even has its own selection of Bedtime Stories for Adults, narrated by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey. Alongside this you’ll find videos on mindful movement and guided stretching, as well as meditation master classes taught by renowned experts and exclusive music tracks to help you relax.
Free one-week trial, subscription packages from £28.99 per year
calm.com

Mindicine

There are five main types of brain wave: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and theta. This clever app plays different sound frequencies to simulate each of these five types – from anxiety-alleviating alpha waves to creativity-boosting theta – to aid with meditation and relaxation, with custom session lengths ranging from five minutes up to eight hours. Listening to these special frequencies regularly can help with everything from stress and depression to sleeping disorders and creative blocks, so it’s worth tapping into them.
Free to download with premium subscription available for £2.99
apple.com

Simple Habit 

This app describes itself as being designed to “help busy people stress less, achieve more, and live better” and, having been founded by a former Wall Street Banker, it knows all about targeting high achievers on the go. All of its meditations are offered in bite-sized five-minute sessions, ranging from classic guided mindfulness to motivational coaching and stories to soothe you to sleep, narrated by an eclectic bunch that range from mindfulness experts at Google to former monks. They’ve recently added more options to help those struggling with self-isolation amidst the Covid-19 lockdown, including sessions on Easing Fear and Mindful Communication with Family.
Free to download with a range of in-app purchases available
simplehabit.com

Noisli

For some, meditating in absolute silence is nigh on impossible – which is where something like Noisli steps in. The app provides a series of specially created background sounds designed to mask disruptive noises, whether you’re looking to focus while working from home or unwind before bed. There’s a wide range of natural sounds on offer – from thunder and lightning to crackling fires and babbling streams – which can be mixed into your very own custom blend, depending on your mood and requirement.
£1.99 to download
noisli.com

Happy Not Perfect

Founded by wellness entrepreneur Poppy Jamie, Happy Not Perfect was developed by a broad team of expert guides, ranging from strategy coaches and clinical psychologists to holistic practitioners and hypnotherapists, to help you feel calmer and more balanced. Combining decades of positive mindfulness and research with expertise, the app provides each user with a daily eight-step routine, tailored specifically to their mood and situation, to help them feel ready to face the day. Featuring mini games, mindfulness exercises and breathing techniques, think of it as a workout for your mind.
Free to download with a range of in-app purchases available
happynotperfect.com

Sattva

Drawing on the ancient roots of meditation going back thousands of years, Sattva was founded by Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and is based on Vedic principles such as patience and compassion. You’ll find a range of meditations, chants and mantras to choose from, all delivered by experienced Sanskrit scholars who have mastered the inner workings of the mind. Alongside this there are live video events and opportunities for group meditation sessions, as well as lessons on mastering mudras, “hand positions or gestures that facilitate the flow of energy in the body.”
Free
sattva.life

Aura 

Combining proven strategies created by top meditation teachers and therapists with groundbreaking artificial intelligence, this app delivers new personalised mindfulness exercises on a daily basis. Meditation tracks range from just three minutes up to an hour, to fit into whatever time slot you happen to have free, and are tailored specifically to your mood on that particular day, whether you’re feeling sad, anxious, stressed or happy. With a wide range of different tracks – from life coaching and gratitude journals to nature sounds and soothing music – there’s something for everyone.
Free to download with a range of in-app purchases available
aurahealth.io

Portal

With global travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, the premise behind Portal is looking more and more appealing. Instead of using traditional guided meditation tracks, this app promises to whisk you off to a variety of mood-enhancing places around the world, from a thunderstorm in the Amazon to Hawaii’s rolling surf or the Austrian mountains. Featuring 18 different 3D soundscapes, each accompanied by beautiful visuals and Philips Hue smart lighting, it’s a brilliant way to transport yourself to a different location without stepping foot outdoors.
Free to download with four free portals, £3.99 to unlock all portals
apple.com

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