According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 61% of American’s polled consider work to be one of the highest stressors, with only, with only money (62%) and national concerns (63%) ranking ahead, marginally as it may be.
Though the stress associated with work and money is common across multiple demographics and professions, small business owners likely feel an increased weight from that stress, with many tasked with long, challenging hours that bleed seep from the chaos of their work lives to the serenity of personal lives.
Unfortunately, aside impacting the home life, increased stress has been connected to everything from headaches, muscle tension, and sleep problems to overeating, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression. And, as you likely know, all of those things can rob you of your mental clarity and general quality of life. That said, business owners can’t typically close shop in hope of a decrease in stress, so what can they do to reduce and alleviate stress?
There are a variety of solutions, including exercise or taking time to read and relax, but what about when you’re on the go or faced with meeting after meeting? How can you fight stress and build health brain function? If you’re looking for a few moments of clarity in an otherwise stressful day, one that can fit in the palm of your hand, then consider one of these five mind-friendly apps.
One of the best ways to deal with stress, or so we’re often told, is to meditate, but even though meditation requires little to no physical movement, learning how to do it can be complicated. Headspace aims to change that, bringing the ancient art of meditation to over one million users as of June 2018.
What’s the draw? Aside from the calming voice of founder Andy Puddicombe – an author, educator, and Tibetan Buddhist monk, among other things – the app is built on a combination of ancient theory, modern science, and practicality. The app’s instructional process is simple, helping those who are hesitant about meditation take a breath and step right into a calmer mind.
Today, the company boasts of partnerships with prestigious scientific research organizations, like NYC and University of Southern California, but perhaps more intriguing to business owners is the adoption of Headspace by major names in technology, like Adobe, LinkedIn, and Spotify, all of which use Headspace to help their employees reduce stress and unlock their business potential.
Happify aims to help uses “overcome stress and negative thoughts,” and based on app ratings, which consistently hover over or around 4.5 out of 5, the three million English-language users think it lives up to the promise.
The app, which also offers a business solution, helps users form new, happier habits that help put a stop to anxiety and stress. To do that, Happify incorporates a series of scientifically based games and activities based on a framework referred to as STAGE: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, and Empathize. The end result is the ability to stomp out stress, remain positive, and lead an overall happier existence.
Originally only available in English, Happify just expanded its offerings to include seven major languages, proof of its global appeal. In addition, the app has been featured by multiple news outlets, including Forbes, where it was listed as one of sixteen apps that would guarantee users more success.”
Mindfulness may be cultivated by apps like Headspace and Happify, but sometimes reigning in stress means taking control of the things that stress you. For business owners and professionals, the biggest source of stress is the seemingly endless to-do list. When it gets too long, life becomes overwhelming and focus can quickly diminish. For that reason, a solid focus-based app is a must, and Be Focused continuously shines as one of the best.
Fundamentally, Be Focused isn’t built on ground breaking science; instead, it’s based on the tried and true Pomodoro time-management technique, which breaks work into intervals of twenty-five minutes, with a short fifteen-minute break in between each work interval. The breaks ensure that you’re giving your mind the opportunity to regroup and refocus, meaning you get more done in those twenty-five minute intervals than you typically would if you worked straight through the morning.
While the app’s focus isn’t unique, it offers users a crisp and easy to use interface, removing some of the clutter found in similar apps (who needs that, right?). Plus, the simple tracking system makes it easy to see what you’ve accomplished or where you may need to work on your time management skills, something that can lead to long-term improvements in productivity, mental clarity, and overall stress levels.
Referred to as the “Spotify for Meditation” by Fortune, Simple Habit has been growing in popularity since it’s 2017 appearance on Shark Tank. As you may have assumed by the accolades, the app is focused on meditation, but it does differ from others, like Headspace.
Instead of focusing on a single teacher and pathway to meditation and mental clarity, which is fine for some, Simple Habit is built on a collection of mediation habits. Users gain access to fifty free sessions and a library of over 1,000 meditations for a variety of issues, including anxiety and insomnia as well situationally based concerns, like prepping for a big meeting.
The best part, particularly for those that truly have trouble fitting self-care into their busy lives, is that Simple Habit offers five-minute guided meditation practices (10 and 20-minute sessions are also available). Perhaps that’s why this app has been recognized by a variety of organizations, including Google Play, USA Today, and Business Insider, as a great option for those with hectic schedules.
Want to reduce stress and anxiety, feel happier, and gain access to a supportive community, all from the comfort of your own desk? Dale Beerman, the founder and CEO of Pacifica believes that his app can bring you that.
Pacifica, which has been named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2017 and BuzzFeed’s “#1 Amazing App for Anyone Living with Anxiety” is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) exercises. Those who use the apps will have access to a variety of tools and activities that incorporate mindful meditation, mood tracking, and relaxation to achieve a healthier, more focused state of mind.
With over 1.7 million users, the app also offers users access to a community feature, allowing them to share stories and get advice and peer-support. Combine that with daily CBT challenges and long-term goal tracking, and this app quickly can become a great tool to keep stress and anxiety under control even with your professional climate is anything but.
You may not always have time to make it to a yoga class, journal for hours, or complete one of the other activities proven to help reduce stress and clear the mind, but that doesn’t mean you need to live each day shrouded in stress as you manage your business. These apps can help increase mindfulness and help you make it through the challenges that each day brings. All you have to do is down the app, remain calm and entrepreneur on.
This article was originally written on August 22, 2018 and updated on September 12, 2019.