It’s always useful to have something lined up to help pull you out of a state of anxiety or low mood – perhaps a mindfulness technique or two.  It can be difficult to focus though when low mood hits.  However, most of us carry around tiny computers in our bags or pockets, giving access to apps which can aid with relaxation and mindfulness, and if someone else is guiding you, then not much effort is required!  I’ve had a play with one of them, and here’s my thoughts…

Stress Free is an app which talks you through various techniques to help induce mindfulness and relaxation, very useful when things are tough. It can be used on a smart phone or tablet, although the size of the font in the instructions does make it more suitable for a tablet when you first start using it. However, don’t let this put you off, because once you’ve been through the techniques a few times, you don’t need to read anything, just listen and watch the simple, yet enchanting graphics while breathing, relaxing and meditating.

The main menu has a delightful backdrop of a dessert island, waves gently lapping at the shore, a palm tree with coconuts, and seagulls flying around. Sound effects include relaxing music, and the sound of those waves waxing and waning. At first you will be guided through each technique in turn: deep breathing, meditation, deep muscle relaxation and self-hypnosis. All the techniques have a short explanation of the benefits involved. You can partake with your eyes shut, or watch the little avatar gently pulse while its outline changes colour, which I found slightly mesmerising, and an aide to my relaxation.

Once you have been through each technique the rest of the menu opens up, and you can choose which technique you wish to practice. There is a mood metre, where you are asked to signal how you are feeling on a scale of thunder clouds to sunshine, and then associate a word or two with those feelings. The app then makes recommendations of which techniques will benefit you at that particular time. There is also a virtual Zen garden, where you can arrange shells, stones, and even a sandcastle, rake sand, and make little pools of water. Like the little avatar, I found this particular feature a good distraction when my mood was low. The app helpfully charts your progress, so you can see how your mood changes over the days and weeks, and keep track of its recommendations. If you wish, you can customise a message of encouragement to pop in a bottle and launch into the sea.

The app is easy to use and gently relaxing. Definitely worth having on your phone or tablet and dipping in and out of during the day, to help stabilise your mood and lift you out of low moments.

Check it out in the app store.

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