You’re running on not enough sleep but too much coffee. You’re behind on one project and about to be on two others. You want to start meditating, but it just doesn’t feel like you have the time to light some candles and sit around for an hour.
It’s hard, but not quite as hard as it seems, and the “pros” list is extensive. Meditation is a great tool for self-care and mental health and can increase your overall happiness. Even better, it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. That’s why we’ve lined up a few apps that let you start building meditation into your routine. We’ve included two categories for our recommendations, one for when you’re on a break and are able to slow down for a few minutes, and one for when you have absolutely no time at all. Give it a go–because when did breathing ever hurt anyone?
Level up your meditation game from Grasshopper to Bonsai with Oak, an app that tracks your meditation progress in the badges that you gain. While it might be the cute motivational push you need to spend those few free minutes meditating, Oak’s real value is in its simplicity. It pares everything down to three focus areas: meditate, breathe, and sleep. Pick one, choose your time, and background noise (think roaring fire or rain hitting a rooftop).
On a break: Choose “meditate” and do 10–30 minutes of mindfulness meditation.
No time at all: Pull this app up anyway, hit “breathe,” and do a single set–only 1 minute 54 seconds.
Calm knows the kind of day you’ve been having. Calm knows it so well that the home screen just says “take a deep breath.” After that fades a few moments later, just long enough that you actually do take a deep breath, you can dive into this one-stop-shop for meditation and mental health. This is one of the more comprehensive apps out there, and while the app is free, for $12.99 a month you get access to their entire extensive library of meditation series. They have series on everything from stress to mindful eating to flight anxiety, as well as a specific series for beginners who are trying meditation for the first time. The real heavy hitter, though, is the “Self-Care” category, which has a little of everything you might be needing during your most hectic days.
One of Calm’s more unique features is a daily mood check-in. It’s as easy as clicking an emoji, and based on that, Calm gives you meditation recommendations for your current emotional state. After you choose your emoji, it gives you the option to add a note where you can break down what you’re feeling and then lets you add a tag for what it is related to (work, family, money, friends, etc). Keep track of this over time in the app, and you can see more of your emotional patterns over time and what’s causing them.
On a break: Use the daily mood check-in and do the first one it recommends to you–on average, this will take about 12 minutes. In return, you’ll get something customized to your mood that will leave you feeling more balanced for the rest of your day.
No time at all: Choose “Emergency Calm” and do three minutes of meditation designed to immediately tackle feelings of intense stress.
Headspace is another app packed full of different meditations, with an adorable design to boot. While Calm keeps things serene, Headspace has joyful animated characters on each of their meditations. Aesthetic differences aside, these two apps have a lot in common in all the best ways. Headspace is also free, but you can unlock the entire library for $10 a month. It has you covered for any life issues you might be facing, be it work, parenting, personal growth, or even sports. Every day, the app presents you with a different daily meditation so you always have something fresh to try. Headspace keeps track of how many days you’ve meditated, and gives you a daily summary of your progress–so you always feel like you’re going somewhere, even when you’re taking a few minutes to just sit still.
On a break: Choose one of their Beginner series and start building up your meditation foundations. They only last 3–10 minutes and can help you get more out of the time you do meditate.
No time at all: Click on “Everyday Headspace” to check out their daily meditation! You can choose the meditation length, from 3–20 minutes, so snatch up that three-minute meditation and in no time you’ll be back to your daily grind feeling a little bit more zen.