I have to confess something right here from the start. I've let myself go.
It's so easy to talk the good talk on a blog or podcast. But, to also put those suggestions into practice and maintain them for years — that is where I have fallen short.
The past few years of my life have been extreme, and during that time I lost focus of what got me through my recovery from anxiety medication (benzodiazepines). I was so focused on caring for my parents in another state, that I neglected my own health an self-care. And, I paid the price for it. I keep hearing the age-old cliché in my head, "dance with the one that brought ya." I got busy and started feeling better and let my anxiety tools and healthy habits slip away. My recent wave of benzo withdrawal (BIND) symptoms was a slap in the face — and I needed it.
So, I'm returning to the basics. I'm improving my diet, getting more exercise, and re-focusing on yoga and meditation. In fact, I just subscribed to a meditation app for the very first time. There was a discount for a year membership and I went for it. And so far, I'm grateful that I did. I had no idea how much content some of these apps have. I even found a series specifically for my ADHD. And all of that got me thinking that this could be a good blog post. So, here I am.
I researched a few of the top therapy and meditation apps available and listed six of them below. All of the apps in this list are available on both iOS and Android. Maybe you can find one that will help you. I hope it helps.
Better Help (Therapy)
Services: Counseling (CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc.) / stress, grief & anger management / self-esteem / mental health
Pricing: Costs range from $60 - $150 / week
For many, online therapy options are the perfect fit. Founded in 2013, Better Help is the largest supplier of online therapy services with over four million subscribers. They provide 24/7 services from licensed therapists and other accredited professionals via a variety of communication options including phone call, video chat, live chat, or text message. They also offer group support via weekly online seminars and online journaling. If you've thought about getting some therapy support for your anxiety but haven't had the time to find a local counselor, this might be a good alternative.
Services: Meditation / sleep / stress / body & movement / classes / music & nature / well-being monitor
Pricing: Monthly $14.99 / Annual $69.99 / 7-day free trial
Reviews: Google Rating 4.5 App of the Year 2017 (Apple) Google Play Editor's Choice 2018 Best Anxiety App Overall (verywellmind.com)
Calm is usually at the top of lists for best meditation apps, alongside Headspace (see below). This is the app that I signed up for last week, and I must admit I'm quite impressed so far. Over 100 million people have Calm on their smartphone, so I would guess they are doing something right. In an article in The Atlantic on Calm, the author said there is evidence to back the success of meditation apps stating, "Meditation apps really do undercut the stresses of modern life. Studies also show that app-based meditation seems to have many of the same effects as in-person meditation."
Services: Meditation / sleep / stress / articles
Pricing: Monthly $12.99 / Annual $69.99 / 14-day free trial (on annual plan)
Reviews: Google Rating 4.6 / Best Anxiety App for Adults (verywellmind.com)
Headspace is the primary competitor to Calm in the meditation app category and has millions of users in more than 190 countries. According to Headspace, an Oxford study found that "eight weeks of using the [Headspace] app (for 10-20 minute sessions) resulted in a 31% decrease in symptoms of anxiety and a 46% decrease in depression symptoms." Whether you choose Calm, Headspace, or a different app, there is growing evidence that this technological intervention appears to have benefits for those of us struggling with anxiety.
Healthy Minds Program App (Meditation/Sleep)
Services: Meditation / sleep / courses (podcast-style) / well-being monitor
Review: Top 3 Meditation Apps in 2023 (New York Times Wirecutter)
Healthyminds innovations provides this app — completely free. Perfect for beginners to mediation who want to "give it a go." According to the New York Times, Healthy Minds Programs is "unburdened by bells and whistles [and] it offers a well-structured, clear sequence of courses. It’s a great option for anyone who wants to see if meditation is right for them."
Services: Sleep / Meditation / Nature / Quotes
Pricing: Monthly $11.99 / Annual $59.99 / Free Version Available
Review: Apple Store Rating 4.8 / Apple Store Best of 2017
The Tide App focuses on four key essentials: sleep, meditation, relaxation, and focus. Tide, at its core, is physical and mental care inspired by traveling, nature, and meditation. It's about getting away from the stressors for life. Tide excels at helping individuals with insomnia by offering sleep analysis, light wake-up alarms, nap modes, and calming nature sounds. Basic meditations are available in a free version.
Services: Sleep / Meditation / Nature / Quotes
Pricing: Monthly $7.99-$11.99 / Annual $59.99-$76.99 / Free version available
Review: Google Rating 4.5
Breathwrk is Apple's #1 breathing app. It's key focus is on breathing exercise programs that promote calm, relaxation, and even pain management. Each program is designed to help specific health issues such as anxiety, cardiovascular health, pain, and insomnia. The app isn't just focused on relaxation, but also has energizing exercises to improve performance. According to Breathwrk's description, studies show that "slow, voluntarily regulated breathing practices are non-invasive, easy to learn, and generally safe for treating patients with symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, depression, stress- and trauma-related disorders, ADHD, schizophrenia, and substance abuse."
This post is for informational purposes only, and should never be considered medical or professional advice of any kind. The resources listed here are provided as a courtesy only. They do not constitute an endorsement by Easing Anxiety of the resource or any recommendations or advice provided therein. EA receives no compensation for listing any resource on this site.
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Best Apps for Anxiety. verywellmind. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/best-apps-for-anxiety-3575736.
BetterHelp Online Therapy: A 2023 Review. Healthline. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/betterhelp-review.
Blackwell, Caira. The Best Meditation Apps. New Yok Times: Wirecutter. Updated January 18, 2023. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-meditation-apps/.
Lowrey, Annie. The App That Monetized Doing Nothing. The Atlantic. June 4, 2021. Accessed May 17, 2023. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2021/06/do-meditation-apps-work/619046/.
Patricia L. Gerbarg MD, Richard P. Brown MD. Neurobiology and neurophysiology of breath practices in psychiatric care. Psychiatric Times. 2016;33(11). https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/neurobiology-and-neurophysiology-breath-practices-psychiatric-care.