Meditation Apps To Help You Destress And Relax

In our interconnected world that places ever-increasing demands on us, that space to unwind and take a pause is becoming ever more elusive. Everyday stresses from work to family to personal finance can place an enormous burden on us and have long-term health implications. External stressors (stressors where the individual has no control over the factors causing them stress) also significantly harm our well-being. The most recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that American respondents identified spiraling inflation, crime, political environment, and race relations as contributory sources of stress.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights that stress can cause sleep deprivation, substance abuse, suppressed or increased appetite, and oscillating emotional states. These can all lead to dangerous health issues, such as heightened blood pressure, decreased immune strength, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Adopting certain lifestyle habits — including regular exercise, positive self-reinforcement, and even simple laughter — is an effective way of reducing or managing stress.

Handheld technology, such as tablets or smartphones, can enhance stress in our lives, especially for the young and impressionable. As Yamalis Díaz, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor in NYU's Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, told Healthline, these devices create an "overload of information, especially stressful information," which "basically activates that system more often and keeps it more active." However, these devices also offer meditation and mindfulness apps that provide a cost-effective way of unwinding without therapeutic consultation. Let's look at some of the most popular and award-winning meditation apps that are available at our fingertips.


Calm is a hugely popular sleep, meditation, and relationship app. It promises to help beginners learn the art of meditation, find relaxing playlists, listen to celebrity-read bedtime stories, practice slow, mindful movement, and learn from experts in the field. The app won Apple's App of the Year award in 2017 and has received thousands of rave reviews. As of 2023, the app has 1.6 million reviews on the App Store and an overall rating of 4.8 stars out of 5. Reviewers at Healthline noted that the app was particularly beneficial for people struggling to sleep due to stress. "Calm Sleep Meditations help me shut my mind off so that I can fall asleep faster. I also tend to sleep longer when I've used the app to go to sleep," said Megan Severs, Healthline's editorial director. "Without the app, I often wake up in the middle of the night."

With Calm, you'll receive a 10-minute meditation known as the Daily Calm each day. It's a great reminder to slow down and breathe in the middle of your busy day, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Calm comes with a seven-day free trial, followed by a monthly subscription of $14.99 or an annual subscription of $69.99.

Headspace: Mindful Meditation

Headspace is a massively successful meditation app that claims to have over 70 million members and is used in 190 countries worldwide. The app uses scientifically-supported meditation and mindfulness techniques to boost mental health and help you develop life-changing habits. The app was founded by British author and trained Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe and former advertising industry professional Rich Pierson. Pierson started off as one of Puddicombe's clients in his start-up meditation practice. As Pierson told the BBC, "After the first session it highlighted how many thoughts I had in my head, and just how manic my life was." Since its creation, it has won over millions of fans, including a few celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, Tom Daley, and Bill Gates.

Using Headspace has been found to affect users' mental well-being positively. The app claims to make users feel 14% less stressed after 10 days. The app also promises to improve your sleep patterns and your average mood. One 2022 study also found that the app successfully reduced depression in 75% of cases.

Headspace is divided into four sections: meditate, sleep, move, and focus. Sessions with these are easily navigable, with bright, colorful, welcoming cartoons. Headspace begins with a seven-day free trial, followed by the option of a $12.99 per month or $69.99 annually plan.

Insight Timer: Meditate & Sleep

InsightTimer, founded by brothers Christopher and Nicho Plowman, combines five well-being apps into one that focuses on meditation, sleep, breathwork, yoga, and contemplation. The meditation section offers a wealth of guided meditations led by reputable psychologists and teachers. The sleep section allows users to play sleep-inducing music and classic storybooks to doze off to. Breathwork coaches you on how to master various breathing techniques delivered by certified teachers. Meanwhile, yoga invites you to participate in live classes, build music playlists, and learn yoga practices that aim to improve your sleep. Finally, contemplation allows users to record their progress in journal form, complete mood questionnaires, and even search for inspiring quotes to lift their spirits.

InsightTimer claims to have 24 million users and prides itself on sharing numerous pieces of content for free, with only a few users paying for their content. The app's co-founders have been clear that the desire for profit was not a primary consideration when they launched the app. "We don't offer anything in exchange — we don't want people on our platform as subscribers who don't want to be subscribers," Plowman explained in an interview with the TechFirst podcast. There is, however, a premium plan in which users can enjoy a seven-day free trial to explore, but thereafter subscription will be either $9.99 per month or $59.99 per annum.

BetterSleep: Relax and Sleep

BetterSleep, formerly Relax Melodies, first launched in 2009 and developed by Ipnos Inc. The company was founded by long-time friends Simon Alex Bérubé and Philippe Lapierre after the latter was diagnosed with tinnitus, which caused him to experience insomnia. As both were software engineers, they wanted to develop sleep antidote sounds to help people with sleep disorders. "They can expect to find the most complete toolkit for sleep within our app," Bérubéan said in an interview uploaded on BetterSleep's website. "We'll give you all the resources you need to understand your sleep at every stage of life."

The app claims to have had 55 million downloads since its launch and offers users bedtime stories, sound mixes, sleep trackers, and even a sleep recorder that can track the noises you make during your sleep. The app has broadened to include meditation practices and breathing techniques as well.

The app offers three pricing tiers — a monthly auto-renew subscription is $9.99, yearly costs $59.99, and a lifetime, one-time payment settlement at $249.99. Each of these comes with a seven-day free trial period.


Buddhify was created by Rohan Gunatillake, who adopted meditation during his student days. When he began working at a lucrative technology firm, he felt the corporate lifestyle antithetical to the values mindfulness and meditation encouraged. Combining his technological knowledge with his passion for on-the-go meditation, Rohan wanted to deliver an app that enabled users to access a treasure trove of mindfulness tips and guides at their fingertips. This idea blossomed into an app used all over the world.

Buddhify markets itself as different from other providers as it caters to commuters and other individuals with a finite amount of time to pencil in meditation each day. The meditation sessions range from four to 30 minutes. Due to its format, the app believes in charging users a fair price for its subscription plan, which is $30 per annum. The app gives users a customizable wheel with the option of Edit Mode, where you can cherry-pick the meditation categories that best suit you. Buddhify offers niche scenarios, such as work breaks, intense emotional states, and winding down for sleep. Buddhify doesn't have to be a solo experience, as it contains meditation sessions that encourage parents and children to participate.

Apple Fitness+

Lastly, there is Apple Fitness+. This app is better known for its high-impact exercises, such as HIIT and kickboxing. However, Apple has expanded its fitness platform to include an extensive suite of classes focused on meditation and mindful cooldown. The meditation classes are divided into categories such as calm, focus, resilience, and sleep, which aim to relax and recalibrate you. Other categories — such as purpose, kindness, and gratitude — allow you to conjure positive thoughts. Finally, awareness, creativity, and wisdom seek to inspire and ignite that nascent flame in you. The classes range from five to 20 minutes and are delivered by special expert teachers.

On the other hand, the mindful cooldown classes mix meditation techniques with gentle, slow-moving stretches. These can be performed anywhere and are perfect for post-workouts, breaking up the monotony of the working day and helping you reach that sedated and loosened state before bed. New subscribers can enjoy a one-month free trial before opting for a $9.99 per month or $79.99 per annum plan. Those who have recently purchased an iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, or Apple TV can benefit from a three-month free trial.