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Relax with an app: A handy set of hand-held tools to help you breathe

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Relax with an app: A handy set of hand-held tools to help you breathe

We live in a society that pressures us to be on-the-go yet connected 24/7. Busy lives, jam-packed schedules and no time to breathe. Phones beep and notifications buzz repeatedly throughout the day and night, as the pile of work in front of us increases.

This is when the majority of us hit our breaking point, where the stress consumes us. But living in such a connected world, we might have a hard time setting down our phones or otherwise pressing pause.

The good news is that our phones can give us a brief sense of relief, too — a little bit of hand-held solace through relaxation and mood-lifting apps aimed toward improving our stress levels. So while you are sitting in the pick-up line at your child’s school, killing time between classes or hiding in the break room at work, take out your phone and find that momentary serenity.

The app: Happify, free with the option of in-app purchases

Apple and Android

Positivity is key in world full of negativity, anxiety and stress. But when the “I think I can” motto gets too hard to keep pushing through, try the Happify app. Bursting with bright oranges, pinks, blues and greens, the colors alone can boost your morale in an instant.

In the app, personalized activities aim to increase positive emotions. Studies have shown that these daily victories and focus on the positive solutions have aided in improving happiness.

The app: Calm, free with the option of in-app purchases

Apple and Android

Forget the expensive meditation alarm apps! This application has it all for free. Filled with calming blues and grays, it provides that calming color scheme its name suggests.

While a bit too simplistic, the app offers some breath techniques paired with relaxation music or sounds. It’s easy to use on that 10 minute break when you need a moment to yourself. Just press “go,” close your eyes and the meditation begins.

It is worth noting that you'll have to pay for anything past the simple relaxation element. 

The app: Inner Balance, free

Apple and Android

We all have those days where our minds, emotions and words just do not catch up to each other. The Inner Balance app, packed with warm blue and maroon colors, works to restore coherence through three daily, five-minute sessions that are aimed at reducing stress levels and overall wellness.   

The app: Pacifica, free with the option of in-app purchases

Apple and Android

Remember your early days of journaling, back in the time that was filled with giggles, sleepovers and hiding diary keys from your siblings? As the years go by, though, the moments for us to sit down and write an entry may have dwindled down to nothing. Many of us have learned to keep our feelings locked up inside, which may push us to the verge of a stress explosion. But with a breathtaking aqua and sunset color scheme, the Pacifica app allows you to relieve some of the stress and tension with a few clicks of a button.

The application is widely known as a “thought journal.” Pacifica will ask your mood periodically throughout the day to document noticeable patterns and assist you in finding a solution to help manage stress. The app also helps you document personal goals, whether it be speaking up at an office meeting or changing your lunch order at the cafe down the street. 

Putting the best to the test

Everyone has their own preferred coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with stress, so the success you have with each of these apps will vary. After putting the applications to a week-long test, I found that the best application for me was Pacifica.

While it did not provide the fun activities that Happify included, or the simplicity Calm entailed, it allowed me to elaborate on my thoughts every day without a five-page, hand-cramping diary entry.

Additionally, it clued me in on my behavioral patterns throughout the day, and allowed me in on a secret — I am the happiest on Thursdays and Sundays, or when I spent time walking by the river.

In a world where putting down the phone may not always be an option, the best thing we can do is try to alleviate our stress and enlist our phones to help.

Radish magazine is a monthly publication of the Dispatch Publishing Co. that focuses on healthy living. It's available for free at many area outlets, including Hy-Vee stores.

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