DROP OFF

Apps to shut the world out and help you chill — or in­stantly sound like an ex­pert

Sunday Times - - Pulse -

Not to put a damper on things, but the long week­ends and pub­lic hol­i­days are pretty much over for now. Yes, we have Youth Day com­ing up in June — it falls on a Sat­ur­day! And no, you don’t get to have the Fri­day off in­stead. Then there’s Women’s Day and Her­itage Day — but they’re only in Au­gust and Septem­ber. And by the time the Day of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion rolls around in De­cem­ber, well, who knows if by then you’ll be more ma­chine than hu­man as the de­mands of work ratchet up in the rush to­wards the end of the year.

As the world spins faster and we work more, sleep less and have fewer hours of down time than ever, we need more ef­fec­tive and quicker ways to de-stress. There also seems to be more crazy, chaotic shit hap­pen­ing on the planet (I work in a news­room, I should know). Not that the world hasn’t al­ways been a pa­rade of night­mar­ish head­lines, but you used to be able to log off and go and play out­side. Most peo­ple can’t do that any­more as the thin wall be­tween hu­man be­ing and tech­nol­ogy grows thin­ner ev­ery day.

Ironic then, that some of the best ways to di­min­ish stress are with tech­nol­ogy. Your phone can be­come your per­sonal spa, help put you to sleep and even keep you calm bet­ter than a pack of Cal­mettes. Be­tween the dis­trac­tion of e-mail, the ba­nal­ity of Face­book and Twit­ter and the in­ter­fer­ence of In­sta­gram, there are apps that can of­fer you a foun­tain of peace and well­be­ing. Switch on your Wi-Fi and start switch­ing off.

SLEEP

Is that my car alarm? Why is the traf­fic so heavy at this time of night? Are those foot­steps com­ing down the pas­sage? Did I re­ally send that email? Who’s What­sAp­ping him past mid­night? As thoughts race through your mind your body goes into alert mode, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to drift into a zen space. One so­lu­tion is to drown out un­wanted noise with some sooth­ing ones that put your mind at ease. With these apps (sug­gested by Ap­ple iS­tore) you can tune out to sounds of na­ture or use white noise (with pink and brown vari­a­tions) to soften stress­ful thoughts.

Wild­ful­ness 2 — Na­ture Sounds

High qual­ity, psy­choa­cous­tic na­ture sounds for the feel­ing of be­ing in the for­est, with guided breath­ing ex­er­cises.

Rain Sleep Sounds

Choose from a range of am­bi­ent rain sounds — gen­tle light rain, rain with trickle ef­fect et cetera — that can be mixed with other na­ture sounds and re­lax­ing mu­sic. Also has a sleep timer pre­set op­tion which stops the au­dio and puts your phone into sleep mode.

White Noise Sleep Pil­low Sound Rec­om­mended by doc­tors on HealthTap.com, the app of­fers a huge va­ri­ety of am­bi­ent sounds that they guar­an­tee will put dif­fi­cult sleep­ers at rest. In­clud­ing gen­tle beach waves, whale song, lux­ury car ride, un­der­wa­ter melody, metronome, ceil­ing fan and even hair dryer and vac­uum cleaner.

Breethe — Med­i­ta­tion & Mu­sic Sooth­ing mu­sic and guided med­i­ta­tion to de-stress and sleep bet­ter. The app of­fers sim­ple med­i­ta­tion tech­niques that they claim will make you hap­pier, calmer and bring peace of mind. There’s also a mind­ful­ness pro­gramme for kids.

TRAVEL

Whether it’s long dis­tance or just the com­mute to work, take the time to de-stress by shut­ting down your so­cial me­dia and news feeds and down­load these apps for some down­time.

Bud­dhify

No this isn’t an app de­signed to help you make friends and in­flu­ence peo­ple, that would be spelt Buddy-fy. In­stead this app helps you bring calm, clar­ity and kind­ness into your life over a few hours or a cou­ple of min­utes. A col­lec­tion of teach­ers means that you can choose the style and voice you like.

Au­todesk Sketch­book

Stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who make art (even bad art) have sig­nif­i­cantly low­ered cor­ti­sol (the stress hor­mone) lev­els. This app lets you draw, paint and sketch any­where, when­ever an idea strikes. In­spirePro, Adobe Pho­to­shop Sketch and ArtRage all do a sim­i­lar thing.

Stress & Anx­i­ety Com­pan­ion Sup­plies the tools needed to man­age anx­ious feel­ings and iden­tify their trig­gers. Based on cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy and claims to help you flex and strengthen your men­tal mus­cles. You can also write down your thoughts on vis­ual photo cards.

Blink­est

If you feel like you’re not men­tally keep­ing up with the Jone­ses — this app pro­vides short vis­ual and au­dio sum­maries of best­selling nonfiction books from the fields of busi­ness, psy­chol­ogy, sex and re­la­tion­ships, fi­nance and in­spi­ra­tional.

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