Work is stressful. For any number of reasons, that phrase has become a given, with people around the globe feeling the mental pinch. That includes the UAE, where a 2015 study revealed that as many as 42% of employees find their offices stressful.
And that stress can do far more than leave you feeling uneasy. One US study found that health problems exacerbated by workplace stress kill around 120 000 people a year.
While some companies do what they can to help their employees manage that stress – by building more considered offices, allowing people to bring their pets in, or giving them time to exercise during the work day – not every company can afford to do that, and not every employee can take advantage of those benefits.
Where to turn to for solutions then? Well, as much as technology and our “always on” lifestyle may contribute to that added stress, it can also help provide a solution.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to buy any new devices either. There are plenty of apps on both Android and iOS which claim to help users introduce a little calm into their day. We’ve outlined some of our favourites.
Headspace describes itself “a gym membership for the mind”. Through a series of 10 minute sessions, it teaches users meditation and mindfulness.
While meditation is increasingly finding its way into the mainstream, the creators of headspace were clearly aware that they’d have to educate first time users.
The way it does this is through friendly animations which explain the theory and science behind meditation.
Cost: Free download + introductory course, with a variety of subscriptions available thereafter.
Another meditation app, Calm also aims to help users practise mindfulness through meditation. But while Headspace goes for a sense of quirky openness, Calm aims to provide users with a sense of calmness and wellbeing from the get-go.
While you’ll have to subscribe if you want access to any of the guided meditations, Calm does allow you to listen to a number of calming sounds – ranging from a mountain lake to waves hitting a beach for free.
Cost: US$4.99p/m to US$299.99 for a lifetime subscription.
Over the past couple of years, adult colouring books have taken the world by storm. While there is an element of faddiness to the trend, there are undoubtedly real benefits to it too.
Given the above, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to build an adult colouring app.
While it may not provide quite the same sense of fulfilment as hours of thoughtful pencil strokes, I can personally vouch that it’s possible to lose hours finding just the right colour to fill a gap that hasn’t been coloured in yet.
Oh, and if you want to achieve real peace-of-mind, turning off your notifications probably isn’t the worst idea.
Annoying as it can be to have someone say “just breathe”, when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, there’s actually something to it.
Breathing exercises can be a powerful tool in fighting stress and anxiety. In fact, bad breathing can actually exacerbate feelings of exhaustion, tiredness and depression.
Breathe2Relax aims to fix that through instructions and practice exercises which “help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing”.
Anyone who’s ever been to an aquarium knows how quickly they can lower stress levels. Those aren’t their only benefits either. In fact, there’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the health benefits of aquariums.
Unfortunately, most office workers can’t just zip off to the aquarium during their work day. The next best thing then is to stare at a virtual one on your phone.
If you’ve got any apps you think we should know about, let us know in the comments section below.