Serenity now! These apps and sites will instantly boost your mood
Need to alleviate some stress ASAP? Get off Instagram and try these instead.
You don't need the pseudo science behind Blue Monday to know that the combination of post-holiday debt, winter weather and failed resolutions can make this one of the most depressing times of the year.
Your regular online habits probably don't help. Between the creeping-induced social media envy, the incessant lure of the mid-winter online sales and the never-ending buzzing of your phone (because even the luddites among us are available on at least four platforms at all times) your brain is in constant overdrive and you need a break. Now.
I'm not suggesting you unplug, I'm suggesting you re-wire. Try these sites and apps for at least few minutes, wherever you are, for some ACTUAL instant gratification.
Meditation and mindfulness apps
The easiest way to get on the meditation and mindfulness bandwagon, which studies have shown can help reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, is to use an easy free site like Calm.com. This site offers guided or unguided meditations from three to 30 minutes long. You begin by choosing the scene for your meditation, according to the visuals and sounds that relax you most. I'm a fan of the Summer Meadow, myself, especially during the winter. Then you choose the type of meditation you'd like to try and the duration. The basic Body Scan meditation is a good way to start. Try it for a few minutes at your desk or use your phone for a longer session at home in the morning or evening.
The Headspace app is one of the most accessible ways to try some DIY cognitive therapy, which involves training yourself to change negative thought patterns and reduce anxiety. The site/app takes you through a starter series of meditations based on your experience level and teaches you how to meditate. You can also access all kind of other meditation series focused on things like taking an active role in your health, enjoying more harmonious relationships and overcoming obstacles. Or you can select one-off meditations targeted at things like a fear of flying or having a less stressful commute. There is a free trial offer that lasts ten days and then the best deal you can get is $7.99/month. If it works for you, it's more than worth it.
For a feeling described as "low grade euphoria" try watching autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) videos, which are quite popular on YouTube. I watch ALB in Whisperland's channel to help me sleep at night. (If you recognize her it's because she's made so many beautiful DIY and beauty videos for CBC Life). I also put ASMR videos on in the background when I'm having a stressful day at work. The sounds in ASMR videos are meant to create a tingling sensation that typically starts at the top of your scalp and moves down the back of you neck and spine to relax you. It's divine. The audio triggers include whispering and ambient noises like tapping, scratching or crinkling and the visual triggers include watching someone complete tasks like colouring, painting or crafting.
Give these ones a try:
For a very literal change of scenery, try Relax VR using a VR headset. I got the Google Daydream for under a hundred dollars but you can use any number of headsets to take a quick break in some of the most beautiful and most serene locations in the world. You can choose to add a ten minute meditation or ambient music or just enjoy the high res 3D 360 degree video and 3D spatial audio.
Online fitness classes
Too broke to join a fancy fitness studio or not feeling ready for public workouts? No more excuses, and no better way to get an instant mood boost than a guided workout that you can do anytime, anywhere, like right now, using one of the many awesome fitness classes online. They're either free or very cheap and you can find everything: barre, yoga, pilates, boxing, HIIT, extreme fat-burning hip-hop yogilates (I may have made that one up... but lemme know if you find it).
I like Booyah Fitness, YogaGlo and if you want to try out some free channels on Youtube, check out the BeFit channel for a huge variety of workouts or Boho Beautiful for some great yoga flows from a Canadian couple who travel the world and shoot their sessions in spectacular settings.
Apps to help you unsubscribe
Imagine clearing out all those automated emails and newsletters that clog your inbox and all the subscription services you don't even realize you're still paying for in one fell swoop. Both unroll.me and deseat.me help "clean up your existence" by showing you an instant list of all your accounts along with direct links to delete them.
Just look at that snapshot of mine... I don't even know what vagaro.com is. And it will feel good to delete it. But nothing will feel as good as knowing, without a doubt, that I am definitely not on MySpace anymore.
Now stop browsing, try one of these recommendations, and be well.