Since smartphones quicken the pace of life and work, it only seems fair that they should also help us recover from all that quickening—give us a way to wind down and brighten our moods, right? While no app can compare to time with loved ones, nature, meditation, and exercise, there are plenty that promise to boost our happiness, calm us, and make us more grateful. Here are 15 of our favorites worth trying:
1. Gratitude Journal ($1.99)
Keeping a gratitude journal is sweet way to stay focused on the good things in life. The Gratitude Journal app lets you do just that. You can list the things you’re grateful for and look back on all the other things that have sparked feelings of gratitude. You can also add photos, tag Facebook friends, geotag your entries, and share what you’re grateful for with loved ones. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
2. Calm (Free)
Featuring guided meditations, nature sounds, and a step-by-step guide to finding that all-too-elusive peace of mind, Calm is a great app to reach for when the fast-paced world gets a bit too much and you can’t just duck out and sneak away to the woods. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
3. Headspace (Free)
Headspace is like a workout for your mind. The app teaches you to meditate and provides access to tons of content focused on creativity, decreasing stress, increasing happiness, conscious eating, and open-hearted living. It also has a social element so you can loop your friends in on your journey toward happiness. Available at iTunes and Google Play
4. Sleep Better (Free)
Who can be happy when you're not sleeping well? Not me. Sleep Better is designed to let you track your sleep, monitor your dreams, improve your bedtime habits, chart the moon’s cycle, and wake up feeling better. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
5. Mindfulness ($1.99)
MIndfulness is for both newbie meditators and those who elevate stilling the mind to an artform. The app offers different types of guided meditations, timers that allows you to sit in silence without worrying you're going to miss an appointment, and a gentle heads-up when your meditation time is up. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
6. Water Your Body ($.99)
Not drinking enough water can make you sluggish, depressed and easily overwhelmed. You’d think it would be easy enough to remember to drink water, but how many of us reach for water when we can have coffee, tea, kombucha or soda? Water Your Body is like your own friendly water monitor reminding you to drink water, tracking how much you've had, and calculating how much more you need. Available at Google Play.
7. Couple, the Relationship App (Free)
Dubbed “the app for two,” Couple is all about connecting with your loved one and increasing happiness together. Through a private timeline, you can share photos, plans, ideas, thoughts, and whatever else you feel like sharing. In addition to being a space for lovey-dovey stuff, the app has a practical element that allows you to find nearby restaurants, share a calendar, and create a joint to-do list. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
8. Happy Habits: Choose Happiness (Free)
Using something called cognitive-behavioral therapy, the Happy Habits app provides a bunch of tools to “help create the conditions for happiness in your life.” The toolkit includes a test to assess your happiness, audio guides for relaxing and creating happiness, a journal for affirmations, a Happy To Do list, and graphs to keep track of your happiness levels. Available at Google Play.
9. Mood Kit ($4.99)
Mood Kit uses psychology to help boost your mood. It also helps you discover unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors so you can recognize them and ditch them. The app features 200-plus mood enhancement activities, guides to identify and change stress-inducing thoughts, mood charts to keep track of your ups and downs, a place to journal, and more. Available at iTunes.
10. Unique Daily Affirmations (Free)
Thanks to Chris Farley, the idea of daily affirmations elicits visions of Stuart Smalley saying, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” But there really is something to affirmations. Unique Daily Affirmations provides you with one new affirmation a day focused on success, mood enhancement, and making positive changes. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
11. 7 Minute Workout (Free)
One of the best ways to boost your mood is to move your body. But sneaking a workout into a busy day isn’t always easy. That’s where the 7 Minute Workout comes in. Inspired by an article of the same name that ran in Health & Fitness Journal, the app features a voice-prompted workout packed with classic exercises including push-ups, crunches, wall-sits and step-ups. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
12. Happy Now (Free)
Happy Now helps you figure out what contributes to your happiness by correlating your mood, health, energy and overall vibe with the things you do. By tracking how you’re feeling, what you’ve been doing, and what you’ve eaten or taken, the app recognizes your patterns and sends you affirmations and suggestions for getting your happiness boat afloat. Available at iTunes.
13. Pay It Forward ($.99)
A nice way to increase happiness is to get out of our own mental loops and start thinking about others. Pay It Forward is built on the idea that small acts of kindness can add up to big changes. The app sends daily suggestions for a simple and fun act of kindness, and keeps track of your all your kind deeds. You can track and share your progress and see where other random acts of kindness are going down. There’s also a classroom section designed to help teachers promote kindness in schools. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
14. Pzizz (Free)
Dubbed the world’s most advanced sleep and power nap system, Pzizz helps you relax and drop easily into a nap or deep sleep. It does this by using neuro-linguistic programming, relaxing music, sound effects and binaural beats. I'm not sure what all of those things are, but what I do know is that each time you use Pzizz it generates a different relaxing sound to help you rock a nap or a get a great night's sleep. Available at iTunes and Google Play.
15. Inner Balance (Free)
Taking mood tracking to another level, Inner Balance uses a sensor that measures heart rate and changes in your heart's rhythm to show what happens when you're stressed. The app also shows how your heart patterns change when you’re calm, happy, grateful and relaxed, so there's a bright side too. The idea is that you use the information to learn more about your physical response to stress so you can spend more time experiencing happiness. Available at iTunes.
There are lots of apps out there designed to increase happiness and well-being. Many of the above are similar to others out there, so if something looks interesting, but the interface (or operating system) doesn’t work for you, do a little digging—chances are good you’ll find something that suits you. Top photo: Elvire.R. (CC-BY-20).