More often than not, the apps we use on a daily basis cause distraction and can make us feel overwhelmed, rather than calm and focused. Truthfully, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve accidentally spent hours scrolling TikTok or Facebook Marketplace.
When you’re feeling distracted and overwhelmed it’s important to understand how to help yourself and mitigate these feelings rather than just keeping busy to avoid processing them. For some people, it’s going for a long walk, taking a bath, or watching an episode of their favourite TV show. However, it's common not to know where to begin, so if you’re unsure of what helps find your calm in tough times that's okay too.
I don't have all the answers but I do find that despite being an all-too-often diversion from life, there are apps out there solely made to do the opposite. Here are five apps I've found, used, and have proven helpful for me:
Flora is a gamified pomodoro timer, habit tracker, and to-do list app, that encourages you and your friends to put down your phones and be productive while a tree is planted and grows on your phone (if you leave the app, the tree will die). Flora blocks distracting apps like Facebook, Instagram, and other games in a pleasant way to make you focus on what’s actually important.
AppFinica, the parent company of Flora, partners with Trees.org to offer real tree planting services in the app to allow users to do their part in helping the environment while staying focused on their tasks.
Brain.fm is a music focus app designed to provide you with science-backed music for meditation, relaxation, sleep, work, or focus. After 15 minutes of listening, advanced AI systems will give you results designed especially for the brain.
Brain.fm knows that most music is made to grab your attention, which makes it hard to think and work. That’s why they’ve created focus music to help you both work and perform better, by blending into the background so that you are able to focus distraction-free, while your brain is stimulated with gentle rhythmic pulses, supporting sustained attention.
Calm is a relaxation app for both beginner and advanced meditation fans. They have over 50 million downloads including music and masterclasses to aid you in beating insomnia, stress, anxiety, and improve focus, self improvement, and more.
On the app you can set daily challenges to discover your calm and develop a further understanding of your mind and body, or you have the freedom to choose an open-ended and unguided meditation. They also offer in-app breathing exercises, and nature scenes and sounds, if that’s what you need to relax.
4. Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is a unique tool developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life. It is a not-for-profit app that features hundreds of meditations - which for many is enough to keep them engaged without being overwhelming. They have organized these meditations into several structured programs such as sleep, digital detox, mindful foundations, relationships, and stress management.
Smiling Mind also has a variety of specialized programs for families, children and teenagers, corporate employees, healthcare workers, and educators (including items they can use in their classrooms).
Othership is a breathwork and guided meditation app from the founders of Othership, a social bathhouse and immersive breathwork company born out of Toronto. The app is not free but provides comprehensive offerings for members with the option to pay monthly or annually. The mind-body connection is very real and Othership can be a tool, right there in the palm of your hand, to tune into how you are feeling, process it, and recalibrate so you are energized and clear on your next steps.