Whether you run your own business, work for a large enterprise, or work freelance, you probably have something in common with a lot of people: after a long day at work, you just want to unwind and relax.
For some, this might mean a good sweat session, while for others it might mean meditation. You might sit in front of the television catching up on The Bachelorette or playing your favorite video game.
No matter how you do it, shutting off your work brain after you get home is important for maintaining a work/life balance and allowing your mind and body to relax. When you do relax, you reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood; your autonomic nervous system slows down your breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure; and your body can heal itself.
Another benefit? Additional clarity and focus. When you calm down your nervous system and get a good night’s sleep, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go, improving your job performance.
While many people think the first thing you should do to relax is put down your phone or tablet, that’s not always the case.
Here are 16 of our favorite apps to help you unwind after work.
Calm down your mind with these meditation apps
Meditation is a common and effective way to calm your mind and relax your body.
Try their 10-day beginner’s course for free and start with meditations of just 3-10 minutes. After that, move up to a 10-to-20-minute meditation.
The app includes meditations and visualizations specifically for falling asleep, breathing mindfully, and switching off your brain.
One of the top apps for meditation and sleep, Calm has a little bit of everything that’s been proven to relax your body and mind.
You’ll find more than a hundred guided meditations; music for focus, relaxation, and sleep; masterclasses; videos with gentle stretches and movements; and Sleep Stories— after all, just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t listen to a good bedtime story.
3) Smiling Mind
Designed by educators and psychologists in Australia, Smiling Mind promises results in just 10 minutes a day and features free programs for both children and adults.
The nonprofit offers programs for overall well-being, attention/concentration, stress, sleep, and even relationships.
This one is just for Apple iOS and is perhaps the simplest app available. It reminds you to breathe deeply at certain time intervals.
Taking a few deep breaths is one of the easiest ways to calm your system down.
5) Personal Zen
Personal Zen is a “scientifically-validated mind training app for reducing stress and anxiety and building positive habits of attention.” Based on 20 years of research, it’s been shown to be effective after just 10 minutes a few times a week.
The app features a game that trains your mind to focus on life’s positive aspects. Users travel through different lands while listening to calming music. You can set goals, track stress levels, and earn achievements when you meet your benchmarks.
Express your creativity
Being creative makes you feel more positive and may even allow you to handle stress better.
Tap into your inner child with Colorfy. With more than 1,000 pictures ranging from mandalas to animals to flowers, you won’t run out of pictures to color—and you can even share your work of art on social media or within the Colorfy community.
Journaling is another way to reduce stress, improve memory, and boost your mood.
Momento makes it easy to write down your thoughts and add pictures, videos, or geotags. Use it to keep track of what you’re grateful for that day or just to capture what happened.
Train your brain
Cognitive training exercises sharpen your memory, attention, flexibility, speed, and problem-solving—all skills that will take your focus off of work but make you better at your job over time.
The #1 brain training app out there, Lumosity has been shown to “improve memory, increase focus, and find calm.”
It takes just a few minutes a day to exercise your mind, and the more you play it, the more the program adapts to your strengths and weaknesses.
Move your body
Sometimes the best way to unwind is to get moving.
9) Yoga – Poses & Classes
Yoga combines physical movement with meditation to work both your mind and body.
Yoga – Poses & Classes features a database of more than 100 poses and 20 classes designed to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Find it in the Apple Store or Google Play.
10) Just Dance Now
Love dancing? Then this is the app for you. Just Dance Now lets you play the popular video game without a console. Choose from more than 300 songs and dance routines to shake your stress away.
11) Daily Burn
Daily Burn offers thousands of workout videos ranging from cardio kickboxing to yoga to HIIT. Get a 30-day trial for free and track your workouts to measure progress.
Listen and relax
Music improves memory and workouts, eases anxiety, and improves the quality of your sleep.
12) Nature Sound or Nature Sounds
Listening to sounds from nature is extremely calming.
Choose from the soothing sounds of rain, ocean waves, and the rainforest. Get Nature Sound at the Apple Store or Nature Sounds on Google Play.
With thousands of songs, Spotify makes it easy to put together a different playlist for every day of the week. There are also tons of pre-made playlists curated by the Spotify team and some of your favorite musical artists.
Get a restful night’s sleep
There are many reasons why you should get a good night’s sleep. These apps are perfect for winding down your night before going to bed.
14) Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra, or “yogic sleep,” is less of a physical practice and more of a guided meditation. It’s something anyone can do and it’s one of the most profound ways to completely relax your body.
Try Yoga Nidra – Deep Relaxation Practice on Apple or Yoga Nidra: Sacred Sleep on Google Play.
15) Sleep Easily Meditation
Written and read by acclaimed author Shazzie Love, this 26-minute recording gently relaxes your entire body and mind.
Her soothing voice is easy to listen to and the background music is made up of specially curated healing frequencies for a therapeutic effect. You can find the app on the Apple Store or Google Play.
Originally created to cure insomnia, Pzizz uses psychoacoustic principles to create sounds to help you fall asleep faster, sleep sounder, and gently wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning.
The app includes a nap module to re-energize and a focus module to get more done throughout your day.
Keep your information secure when using apps
The apps that we chose here are all verified and used by thousands—if not millions—of people, but it’s important to do your due diligence anytime you’re downloading something to your personal device.
- Keep your software updated.
- Use anti-virus software when applicable.
- Back up your files.
- Only download programs from trusted and/or secure sources.
- If an email or website looks suspicious, don’t download anything from it.
Keeping your device secure when using relaxation apps is the last, best way to make sure your phone or tablet is a tool to help you wind down after work. Give one or all of these apps a try and calmly enjoy the results.