Top 5 Relaxation Apps

We are all under extreme amounts of stress right now, whether it is societal stress, family stress, financial stress, stress about your health, kids doing online school….there is no shortage of stuff to stress us out right now. 

According to The American Institute of Stress:

  • About 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress
  • 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health
  • 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health
  • 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress

You know what stresses me out a lot? 


I hate technology at least six times a day! 

This is a refrain my family hears from me a lot. There are so many points of potential failure and inevitably, technology will fail us from time to time. But, technology has also given us some really wonderful tools as well. I’ll explain….

In 2013, I was working in the infusion center at UC Irvine Health, and I was working with oncology patients. My job was to work with them on managing their pain, anxiety, and nausea during infusions. A couple of things occurred to me while I was there. First, these patients had very little access to music therapy, but they had 24/7/365 access to smart technology, whether it’s a phone or a tablet. Second, I only saw my patients on average 1.3 times. So, my relationship with them was very transactional. I came in, we did music therapy once. That was the last time that I saw him. So I realized I had to teach patients how to fish. Meaning, I had to teach them how to relax when I wasn’t there.

Enter technology. 

This realization led me to create a curated list of relaxation apps that my clients could use on their own whenever they needed to manage their symptoms. I’d like to share here about a few of my favorites. 

1. Calm

Calm is a giant meditation and relaxing music library. It’s available on all platforms. My favorite thing about this app is that it has BEDTIME STORIES! So, if you have kids, clients, or patients who need some kind of de-escalation routine, this is really cool for that. The other thing I really like about this app is that it has gorgeous visual scenes and it’s like HD video. You get wonderful nature sounds or relaxing music but then you’ll also have a just stunningly relaxing visual interface at the same time…a nature scene that is live. 

2. Relax Melodies

I was attending a training at one of our regional conferences on wellness. The music therapist teaching the training was using this app on us. Aha, or WITH us… set the mood for relaxation. I was so impressed and so many others were too. He took a minute to tell us about this app.  It does include specific meditations. But, it’s also a sound library. Specifically, you get these individual sound samples that are like hanging, almost like a mobile. So, each one is just hanging on a thread and you turn them off and mix their volume together. Sounds range from nature sounds, industrial sounds to musical sounds to animal sounds to all kinds of different sounds which you can mix yourself. You can create your own soundscapes and save them. IN addition to the existing meditations and soundscapes There are guided meditations on there for many types of occasions, whether you’re focusing on relaxing or you’re getting ready for sleep. 

3. Insight Timer

This app falls into the same category as Headspace, Calm, and Relax Melodies. it’s available for all platforms. They like to quote themselves as being the largest selection of free guided meditations. My favorite part about this app is that there is also a SOCIAL component so if you log in through your Facebook or Google, you can actually see which of your friends are meditating and using it near you. The library of music is also really cool because it’s broken down into time and genre. 

4. Headspace

Headspace is a straight-up giant meditation library. You literally just will never get to the end of everything that’s in its Headspace. My favorite thing about it is that it is super easy to use and very…..approachable. The language they use is very plain language. It’s not heady, or enlightened. It walks you through meditating, what the benefits are, and how easy it is. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to get started meditating on a daily basis.

5. Gravitarium

Last but not least, today we’re going to talk about probably my favorite relaxation app, which is called Gravitarium or Gravitarium Plus. This app is for iOS only (sorry Android users!) This app WILL MELT YOUR FACE OFF. You will conjure space unicorns and time as you know it will disappear. Oh, and it’s free, with in-app purchases. It’s similar to the Heat Pad app in that when you place your fingers on the tablet the app responds. But instead of showing like a heat map of where your hands are there are two different settings, depending on how many fingers you place on the app at a time. The app will respond with just a kaleidoscope of different color and shape patterns all happening brilliantly with completely relaxing music in the background. As you put one finger on it, it responds one way but then when you add a second finger, the whole app changes and starts to contract different colors and different shapes. And as you move your finger around the trails behind are simply cosmic. There are two different settings, one of which you draw what look like Jackson Pollock masterpiece paintings…just complete explosions of color. Once I was done playing with it. I created this visual masterpiece. It’s beautiful. But then, when I add a third finger it changes again. If I add a fourth finger changes again. If I add a fifth finger changes again. If I add a sixth finger….you get the idea!  It’s incredibly improvisational and a great way to de-stress in a fun way.

If you want a full list of my favorite apps and links to demo videos and reviews by yours truly, download the FREE Relaxation App Guide HERE

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