Stress Awareness Month 2019: The Best Stress-Busting Apps & Podcasts

For Stress Awareness Month 2019, The Cartwright Team review the best stress-busting podcasts and apps, and discuss the benefits of mindfulness on well-being.

Stress Awareness Month

Throughout Stress Awareness Month we have been speaking to our team and clients to understand how stress can be better managed in the workplace.

Alongside sparking conversations around stress, we have also been investigating ways to combat stress from your smartphone, be that a podcast or app. So, sit back, relax and find out more about some of the stress-busting content our team has been using this month.

App: Clementine

Reviewed by: Account manager Jemma Page

Available: iOS

Price: Free

Rating: 5 downward dogs

What is it?

Clementine is a hypnotherapy app by women, for women who struggle with anxiety, low self-esteem or just feel overwhelmed by life’s stresses. There are 18 hypnosis sessions, in three categories – sleep, confidence and de-stress – and range from four to 25 minutes in length.

The sessions work by helping the listener to relax before tapping into their subconscious thoughts and suggesting new ways to deal with situations. From every day niggles – such as returning to sleep and relaxing – to bigger and more difficult situations, including building confidence. The app can also send mantras directly to your iPhone or Apple Watch throughout the day, giving you an instant boost.

Should I download it?

I believe anxiety affects us all. Sometimes it shows itself as low-level background noise or as thoughts that are so all-consuming, they can seem deafening. One thing I struggle with is sleeping. In order to nod off, I need background noise and for years, this has been the hum of Netflix on my iPad. However, more recently this has been disrupting my sleep.

This Stress Awareness Month, I did a quick search of the app store and came across Clementine. Firstly, I loved that it was free to download, allowing me to fully browse and decide if it was for me. It’s also aesthetically on point and easy to use. The first time I used the app, I listened to the 25-minute deep sleep hypnosis session – a session I have still never heard the end of! It helps me fall asleep and I wake up in the morning feeling calm and refreshed. I’ve also used the sleeping sessions while travelling. I get travel sickness, which is mostly caused by travel anxiety. Now, I plug my headphones in, sit back, relax and nod off – eliminating any nausea.

The sessions are by no means cures, but they do provide instant and quick fixes and they’re easy to integrate into everyday life. The voice used for the sessions is soothing and the messages are positive. It’s a cracking app and it’s quickly become one of my most used.

App: #SelfCare,

Reviewed by: PR & marketing manager Amy Macdonald

Available: iOS

Price: Free

Rating: 4 downward dogs

What is it?

#SelfCare is a game-like app that allows you to reset, recharge and relax. The app focuses on changing the way people interact with their phones. #SelfCare’s playful innovations to digitally engage and personally disconnect are changing the game of mindfulness. The app looks to readdress how game design focuses on creating stress to engage players.

The basic premise of the game is that you’re relaxing in bed, not stressing about notifications on your phone or the things you need to do – it’s all very meta. There is no way to play, but you select calming tasks that generate simple games which use light and sound. Traditional games get increasingly more stressful as you progress. Unlike this, the #SelfCare interactions begin disorderly and awkward and become more orderly and satisfying. There are no levels of difficulty, no winning, and no losing. The goal is simply to feel better.

Should I download it?

We’re all guilty of finding ourselves aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. We reach for our phones when we’re bored, waiting for a friend, or simply out of habit. This Stress Awareness Month, I found #SelfCare to be a great antidote to this. In the morning, when I automatically scroll on my phone I found myself on this app instead. This gave me a chance to re-calibrate and relax rather than immediately replying to emails or checking my notifications.

I stumbled across #SelfCare after reading a review on Bustle. It appealed to me due to its cute aesthetic, which isn’t too serious or patronising (as I find some self-care/ mindfulness apps can be). It’s also aesthetically on point and easy to use. As the app’s creators claim: “The goal is simple: to feel better … for three to five minutes you can escape to a calm and soothing room, and return to your life refreshed and ready to face your stresses.”

I do find myself drifting to the app on a stressful day and I think it achieves all it promises. So, if you want a relaxing bedroom in your pocket no matter where you are, give #SelfCare a go!

App: Calm

Reviewed by: Account executive Anastasia Smith

Available: iOS, Android

Price: Free 7-day trial (unless you forget to unsubscribe)

Rating: 3½ downward dogs

How does it work?

Calm is an app designed to help you focus, relax and meditate. It’s particularly useful for people suffering from anxiety. I tend to get really bad anxiety when it comes to driving and getting lost, not having a map, my phones dying etc. For Stress Awareness Month, I thought I’d give this app a go to see if it calmed any of my nerves when I felt slightly anxious. There are various sessions you can listen to, like, ‘Mind meditation’. I tried ‘7 days of managing anxiety’.

Calm mostly makes you feel a lot happier, relaxed and better about a situation.  There are also sort of home screens which you can change for different sound effects, such as rain drops, ocean waves or different melodies. The background changes and adapts to the sound you’re listening to which was nice and interactive.

Should I download it?

I think it’s particularly useful for making you feel relaxed and calm which I found helpful for managing my anxiety. However, I think it could be more interactive rather than just music and tapes of someone telling you to be zen. Depending what mood you’re in, I think it is beneficial. You could even have it as background noise for a task you’re anxious about doing. I definitely think it’s worth downloading the free trial. If you feel it’s working for you then you can continue subscribing for £7/8 a month.

You can also listen to some of your favourite celebs talking if that calms you which I think is a nice feature.

App: Podcast apps

Reviewed by: Account manager Jo Aitchison

Available: iOS, Android…

Price: free

Rating: 4 ½ downward dogs

What is it?

In the words of comedian Phil Wang: ‘all my friends are getting older now, they’re growing up and starting…podcasts.’

Podcasts are the millennial necessity. If you’re not already producing your own then you should definitely be listening to them.

Podcasts are audible series which you can subscribe to via the native ‘Podcasts’ app on apple devices or via downloadable apps such as Acast, Soundcloud, Spotify and many more. There are thousands of podcasts to choose from. They range in themes from mindfulness to true crime and from football to sex positivity.

Should I download it?

I’ve been listening to podcasts for about five years now and they are my constant companion. A podcast is in my ears during my morning walk to the office or can be heard throughout my flat during an evening at home with a glass or three of wine.

Your subscribed list is your own curated radio station and podcasts provide a relaxing source of entertainment which don’t require looking at a screen. An average podcast length is at least 40 minutes to an hour (some near three hours!), so you’re not looking at your phone every few minutes to switch track or change the volume, as you would if you were listening to music. Their length allows you enough time to get really engrossed in the subject matter and totally switch off from the outside world – just press play and the rest of the world fades away.

Some podcasts are certainly more brash than others, so if you’re looking to unwind there are some voices and subject matters which don’t really align with ‘de-stressing’. However, the podcast platforms have now developed handy categories which help point you in the right direction.

In light of Stress Awareness Month, I can’t recommend them highly enough as a de-stress tactic.

De-stress podcast recommendations?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Bryony Gordon’s Mad World

Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place

By Cartwright Communications

Cartwright Communications is a team of PR and digital experts. Our roots are in journalism and our focus is on devising content-led integrated communications strategies for our clients. We work with consumer and business-focussed clients in Nottingham, the Midlands, across the UK and internationally across a variety of market sectors.