11 Stress Management Apps to Relax Your Mind & Body

Aimee del Principe

Published:

We all face disruptions to our peace of mind — work stressors, parenting pressures, and even smaller hurdles like running out of shampoo. Stress management apps can help ease anxieties that could otherwise pile up and make life feel out of control.

person using a stress management app to meditate in a chair

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Monitoring and managing your emotional health is a wise choice for both today and down the road. Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that unmanaged stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This can lead to serious physical repercussions.

Luckily there are lots of great stress management apps out there that can help — and here are some of our favorites.

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Note: These apps are not intended to be substitutes for medical advice. Think of them as educational, intended to help you explore your situation and identify possible solutions to better mental health.

Be sure to consult your healthcare professional before making any health, medical, or other decisions based on data within these apps.

11 Stress Management Apps You Need to Try

1. Headspace

  • Price: Start with a 7-day free trial, then pay $12.99 a month. You can also start with a 14-day free trial and then $69.99 a year.
  • Available for: iOS | Android
  • Price: It’s free to download limited content. In-app purchases range from $0.99 to $399.99 per item.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

stress management apps, headspace interface

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Meditation is a great stress relief technique, and Headspace is one of the best apps out there for guided meditation sessions, especially if you're a beginner. These guided sessions will teach you how to turn off the brain chatter and meditate more effectively.

Headspace has been on the scene and growing for years. The company has also acquired and incorporated Shine, an app created by women of color that addresses the mental and emotional health issues that are specific to their communities.

Pro tip: Many discounts and plans are available to audiences known to benefit most from emotional tools, such as overworked teachers, stressed-out students, and anxious teens. Be sure to check to see if you get a deal.

What We Love

  • It’s age-inclusive; this app offers tools for toddlers up to elders.
  • Meditations vary from 10 minutes to 60 minutes, supporting a deepening practice over time.

Limitations

  • Headspace only offers free content during trial periods.

2. Calm

stress management apps, calm interface

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Calm is an extremely popular and well-marketed meditation, sleep, and relaxation app. It’s well-known for soothing soundscapes and gentle aesthetics.

The app guides users in self-chosen daily meditations, adds new music every week, and encourages them to return to their important self-care work each day. It also features mental health trackers and breathing exercises to help you find, claim, and calm your center.

Pro tip: Calm offers both 7- and 21-day mindfulness programs that can help you dig deeper and achieve your goals.

What We Love

  • Calm is geared toward adults, yet great content is available for kids and teens.
  • The interface looks and feels soothing.

Limitations

  • Calm is free to download, but there’s not much content available until subscribing.
  • Payment info is collected upfront.
  • Users have reported slow response from customer service.

3. Sanvello

  • Price: You can download Sanvello for free. In-app purchases range from $0.99 to $199.99. You can also buy a premium version that has unlimited access to features.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

stress management apps, sanvello interface

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Previously branded as Pacifica, Sanvello has expanded its mental health mission. The app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy combined with relaxation and wellness techniques.

This daily tool helps address stress and anxiety at a gradual pace. Over time, the app becomes customized to your specific needs.

Track your daily activities and emotional states to help the app determine what activities might cause different moods and emotions — especially stress, anxiety, and depression. The goal is to help you recognize triggers so that you can break the cycle.

Sanvello gives you goals to set and straightforward emotional homework. Plus, it has a refreshingly non-fluffy aesthetic. You won’t have to pretend you’re feeling sunny when you’re not.

Best for: People who like a darker, more straightforward UX.

What We Love

  • Many insurance plans cover the cost of this app, so be sure to check your benefits.
  • The interface won’t gobsmack you with bright colors.
  • There are several price options to fit a variety of budgets.

Limitations

  • Some users report that coaches can be impersonal.
  • Therapy options may not be available in every state.

4. Daylio Journal

  • Price: You can download the app for free. In-app purchases are available.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

stress management apps, Daylio journal

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Here's a tried and true tracking app that lets you track your emotions, activities, medications, and more throughout the day. With regular use, you can figure out what's driving your emotions.

Monitoring your mood in an app can help you find some useful correlations. For example, some folks find their mood changes depending on whether or not they worked out that day.

You can put in your sleeping times and sleep quality, amount of exercise performed, stress levels, menstrual cycles, and more.

Best for: Those who already love to journal.

What We Love

  • Classic and highly functional.
  • Tracks tons of details for discovering patterns.

Limitations

  • If you don’t have time to write, this may not be the app for you.
  • Regular usage is the key to success; be ready to invest time before seeing results.

5. SAM: Self-Help App for the Mind

stress management apps, self-help app for the mind interface

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Created with psychological principles, supported by research, and recommended by practitioners, Self-Help App for the Mind (nicknamed SAM) helps you figure out what's making you anxious or stressed while also suggesting ways to combat it.

It's a great resource for external information, covering everything from information about anxiety to physical and mental relaxation techniques.

Along with these resources comes guidance for putting these techniques into practice, including breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. Over time, you’ll track your feelings and triggers to see a graph of your anxiety so you can self-monitor.

Pros

  • Has a community forum called the Social Cloud to interact with.
  • Helps you track your triggers as well as your feelings to help you manage them.

Cons

  • Heavily text-based and not very interactive.
  • User experience is disjointed and could benefit from more streamlining.

6. Breathe2Relax

  • Price: Breathe2Relax is free.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

stress management apps, breathe2relax interface

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Has anyone ever told you to close your eyes and breathe? That's because focusing on and controlling your breathing can really help calm a person down.

In fact, diaphragmatic breathing (breathing from your stomach) has actually been proven to decrease stress.

The Department of Defense’s Center for Telehealth and Technology created this app to help soldiers and their families learn stress-relieving breathing techniques — but, of course, it works for everyone.

It also offers information and resources on depression, anxiety, stress, and more. The next time you’re feeling super stressed, try letting this app guide you into some mindful breathing exercises.

Note: This is the only app on our list that is laser-focused on using your breath to help your body ramp down.

What We Love

  • Breathing exercises can help decrease the body’s fight-or-flight response.
  • Breathing sessions are highly customizable to best fit your needs.

Limitations

  • The interface looks outdated.
  • Users report that the security login is unnecessary and hinders the user during sudden panic attacks.

7. Happify

  • Price: You can download the app for free. In-app purchases are available.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

stress management apps, happify interface

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This app helps you improve your mood using positive-thinking activities.

With research embedded in its philosophy, Happify believes that each person has a genetic set point for happiness — and the ability to offset it. In other words, we have more control over our happiness than we might realize.

By practicing certain exercises and interventions that promote positive emotional qualities (like kindness and mindfulness), we can choose our thoughts, behaviors, and actions.

Over time, these choices become habitual and gradually increase our resilience to make us happier.

That's exactly what the Happify app aims to do. The app helps you set specific goals and offers tips for achieving those goals. The positive-thinking activities include games, gratitude exercises, or imagining what a situation would be like in someone else's shoes.

CNN named this app among the top apps to train your brain and better cope with stress.

Best for: People looking to make a lasting change to their behavior and have fun doing it.

What We Love

  • Happify is incredibly easy-to-use.
  • Science backs up the activities.

Limitations

  • The premium version of the app does not come with a free trial.
  • User reports say that some games can get cluttered and confusing.

8. BetterSleep

  • Price: BetterSleep is free to download. Subscriptions cost $9.99 monthly or $59.99 per year.
  • Available for: iOS | Android

Previously named Relax Melodies, this app is a good choice if stress or anxiety hampers your ability to fall or stay asleep.

The app lets you choose from relaxing ambient and natural sounds, as well as calming music and guided meditation sessions.

You can customize these sounds into a mix, or choose just one. You can set a timer for the music to stop playing after a certain amount of time, or set a time during the night or morning for them to wake you up.

Best for: Sleepy people who would like to drift off to sounds or stories with beautiful images fresh in mind from the app.

stress management apps, bettersleep interface

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What We Love

  • There’s a huge catalog of stories and sounds to choose from.
  • The app has deeply saturated colors and beautiful artwork.

Limitations

  • The app is pricey at $59.99 per year to unlock everything.
  • Many sounds that used to be accessible for free have since been locked.

9. Worry Watch

  • Price: BetterSleep is free to download. Subscriptions are available to unlock premium features
  • Available for: iOS

tress management apps, worry watch interface

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Worry Watch earned a perfect 5-star rating in 2021, and is a great app to try out if you are into journaling. It guides you through recording and reflecting on your writing step-by-step, letting you think it through.

If the worry is controllable, it'll help you list out some steps for managing it. If the worry is not controllable, you can select from a list of coping statements to help you approach it from a different angle.

Worry Watch is based entirely on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that are proven to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.

Best for: People who spend time worrying and find relief in writing.

What We Love

  • Worry Watch has a clean and refreshing interface, available in 16 languages.
  • This is an excellent app to help you to turn emotional overwhelm into logical steps for feeling better.

Limitations

  • This app is not available for Android.
  • You can’t view patterns or trends without the premium version.

10. Acupressure: Heal Yourself

stress management apps, acupressure: heal yourself interface

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Here's an app that'll help you garner some physical release from your everyday stresses. Acupressure is an ancient healing art where you use your fingers to press on "pressure points" on the surface of your skin to stimulate the body's natural calming abilities.

Acupressure is safe to do. Further, pressing on these pressure points has both physical and emotional benefits. You can release nerve endings, ease tension in your body, and increase blood flow.

The app itself helps you locate the pressure points that'll help alleviate specific symptoms, and then teaches you how to actually alleviate that pressure.

Why we like this app: Acupressure literally helps you take your well-being into your own hands.

What We Love

  • You’ll get actionable instructions on how to engage pressure points for self-healing — in 8 languages.
  • Tell the app what is ailing you, and it will tell you where and how to add helpful pressure.

Limitations

  • Some users feel the same few pressure points are recommended to address many maladies.

11. Presently: A Gratitude Journal

  • Price: Presently is available for free.
  • Available for: Android

stress management apps, presently: a gratitude journal interface

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Sometimes, all it takes to alleviate some of that building stress is to reflect on what we're grateful for. After all, there are many studies out there proving that keeping a gratitude journal can result in higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.

Presently is a much-talked-about and highly-rated gratitude journaling app. It enables you to hop in and make notes, then hop right back out to live in your conscious moments of gratitude.

Let’s be real: With 4.9 out of 5 stars, why not try this one?

What We Love

  • Presently lets you record your moment of gratitude, then go enjoy it without getting distracted by your phone or the app itself.
  • Presently has a neutral aesthetic that doesn’t pry your eyes with garish color.

Limitations

  • Not available on iOS.

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