Keep Calm and Carry On – 9 Apps to Help You Relax

Like many other people in these busy, modern times, I find myself constantly making lists. Things to do, places to go, people to see … And it just never stops! The lists go on forever and I can’t reach the end. Quite frankly, it causes me a great deal of stress and sometimes I just need to stop thinking about the lists. When I reach that point, I often need some help to successfully relax.

Luckily for me, there are a ton of apps out there for the Mac that can really help you to relax. In this roundup, I’ve included some of my favorites. I have selected some apps with instructions for relaxation and meditation, apps to remind you to relax and even a few games that can be quite relaxing. Stick with me after the jump to learn about some of the many relaxation apps that I’ve chosen to include.

Relax Melodies

First up is Relax Melodies, a great way to generate some ambient noise to put on in the background when you try to relax. I love to boot up the app, turn on some storm sounds and just close my eyes for a few minutes. There are over 45 sounds to choose from, and you can mix them together to make a custom sound. You can save, replay and even name all of your favorites and even set a timer or alarm. It’s great for meditation, sleep and even just a quiet moment to yourself. It’s free, so why not? Chances are good you can probably find a sound that works for you.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Ipnos Software Inc.

Pranayama

Slow breathing is a great way to practice breathing and meditation. Unfortunately, your internal clock and counting probably doesn’t stay exactly consistent over the time of your practice for the day. If that’s the case, Pranayama is a great application to help count you through your slow breathing exercises. Pranayama communicates the countdown for you through animation, sound and more. You are also able to choose from 5 different musical options to play in the background during your practice of the breathing.
To make things better, Pranayama is accessible for both beginners and those with more experience. You start with an easy session if necessary, and Pranayama guides you through a series of increasingly difficult sessions as you progress in your skills. I wish that categories were a bit more specific in the measurements of experience, but other than that Pranayama is a great application for the purpose it is meant to serve.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Saagara LLC

Coffee Break

One of my big problems (and I’m guessing many of yours as well) is that I often just forget to take a break all together. Coffee Break is an app which allows you to schedule forced breaks in advance. When it’s time for a break, Coffee Break warns you and then darkens your screen for a pre-determined amount of time. If you find yourself sitting for hours in front of your computer screen, then Coffee Break is worth a try. It’s a bit frustrating because you can’t click outside of the screen once the warning comes up for your break, but it’s still great if you really can’t force yourself away otherwise.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: iLife Touch

Forismatic

Another great app for those who find themselves struggling to break away from the work at hand, Forismatic is an inspirational application with a fantastic relaxation mode. Forismatic provides a quote or multiple quotes to fit one of three categories – inspiration, ideas or simple relaxation. You can’t save your favorite quotes, but the quotes can still help you to force yourself to relax and give time and peaceful thought to whatever project you have at hand.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Coppertino Inc.

Simply Being: Meditation for Relaxation & Presence

Another great breathing/meditation app is Simply Being Meditation, an app which provides several voice guided meditation sessions in blocks of 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. You can listen to just the voice, add background nature sounds and begin to master the art of meditation. If you are new to meditation but want to add it to your daily routine, Simply Being Meditation is a great way to do so.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Meditation Oasis

CalmDown

Sometimes you get overwhelmed by what is on your computer screen, but maybe you can’t just shut it and walk away for a little while. If you’re stuck in front of the screen but really need a break, try CalmDown. You simply click the yin-yang in your menubar and the screen fades out to be replaced by fading, soothing colors. It gives you a chance to breathe and collect your thoughts. It seems a bit pricey for what it does, but if you need a handy escape button, CalmDown is worth a download for sure.

Price: $1.99
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Adam Mathes

All-In Yoga

If you prefer to take up yoga rather than meditation, you probably need an app to help you get started. All-in Yoga, as we reviewed previously, is a nice way to build up a basic foundation in yoga. While it won’t make you an expert, the guided routines and 250+ moves give you a pretty nice way to pick up the basic moves and start to build your knowledge of yoga and all of its intricacies.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Viaden Mobile

Let’s Create Pottery HD

I’ve had this game on my iPad for quite some time, and it’s always been a great way for me to pause life, get immersed in a relaxing game and then step back into reality with a fresh perspective on things. I was excited to try it on the computer and was quite pleased. In this simple game, you are able to throw pottery on a virtual wheel, fire and glaze it with colors and patterns, share designs, sell them and even create “orders for virtual, game-based clients. It’s a cool concept, quite relaxing and immersive. If you prefer to relax within a virtual world, try this game for sure.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Infinite Dreams

Osmos

Last but not least is another game I love to play in order to relax. Osmos is a fantastic game combining simple, futuristic, cosmic graphics with ambient sounds and simple survivor based gameplay. The ambient levels are best experienced with headphones on and after just a level or two you are guaranteed to have calmed down after experiencing whatever was stressing you out. Unfortunately the game is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a beautiful way to try and relax, so if this type of game is up your alley it’s well done.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Hemisphere Games

Conclusion

There are tons of ways to modify your computer with apps to help you learn to relax and calm down. You can try apps to help you master real world relaxation methods like meditation, opt for an app which forces you to take a break and step away from the screen, play a relaxing game or even see some inspirational quotes about relaxation and idea generation. The apps on this list are a few I’ve tried and really like – many are great for beginners, so if you’ve found yourself stressed behind the screen and don’t always know what to do, try out one of the many apps on this list for some great benefits to your sanity.

These are only a few of the many relaxation-based apps out there – so what would you choose to include? Do you have a different app or is your favorite already on the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  • GV

    Time Out is a free application that allows the user to create two kinds of breaks at intervals set-up by the user. I use a Micro break for chair exercises every 20 minutes and a Normal break every hour where I get up and move around for five minutes before getting back to work.

    Time Out will soon be upgraded to version 2. The current features will still be available via Time Out Free, which will only be available via the Mac App Store, while additional features will become available for users who pay for Time Out Express via the Mac App Store or Time Out purchased directly from the developer.

    More info at http://www.dejal.com/timeout/

  • Matt

    The obvious omission here is Ambiance. They have led the category for about 4 years and is still the only one with a downloadable free sound store. Think iTunes for Ambient sounds.

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