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Feeling Overwhelmed? Best 5 Meditation Apps to Destress During the Day

Feeling Overwhelmed? Best 5 Meditation Apps to Destress During the Day

Feeling overwhelmed all the time is mentally and emotionally exhausting. You might think you’re managing perfectly—career, personal, social, and family without realizing how that overwhelmed feeling is overpowering you.

Triggers such as forgetfulness, constant rushing, not preparing for deadlines, missing deadlines, or canceling plans last minute to compensate making up for unfinished work.

We’ve all been there, I think, at one time or another or this is how life has been lately.

In this article, we’ll look into the best 5 meditation apps to help you destress. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the bad effects stress has on your body.

How stress affects your body

If you think stress is invisible, think again. Stress actually affects your body and mind more than you ever imagined:

1. Hot flashes and the feeling like you’re broken out in a cold sweat.

Have you ever sat down to work and noticed your skin on your cheeks, back of your neck, legs and hands feeling clammy?

When I’m overwhelmed, I’ll notice light sweating which I believed was just from running around. It comes even when I’m not running around, and when it does, I step away from whatever I am doing and go for a walk.

If you can’t step away, focus on diaphragmatic breathing. The symptom is a result of over-taxing. Your body is viewing stress as a toxin and is trying to eliminate it.

2. Heart palpitations and out of control breathing.

The heart is one of the first organs in your body to notice when you’re overwhelmed. Whether you have heart disease or not, stress induces rapid heartbeats.

An increased heart-rate when you’re not working out is not normal. You might notice heavy or incredibly shallow breathing.

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By this point, your brain and heart aren’t getting enough oxygen rich blood. Deep breathing and normal breathing are important for keeping your brain and body’s systems moving.

3. Cramping or pains in your joints (wrists, knees, and ankles).

If you’ve gone out to run those errands and notice cramping in your legs or knees, your body is sending you a signal that shouldn’t be ignored.

My hips and knees cramp up if I’ve been on the move for too long. Our bodies have a way of warning or sending us signals to nurture it more. Balance is a key ingredient to sustaining optimal health and if your body is aching, it’s telling you to stop.

4. Hair thinning or hair loss.

Stress, especially chronic, can lead to hair thinning and hair loss. When you run your hands through your hair or push it behind your ears, you might have noticed loose strands in your fingers.

Hair loss indicates overexertion as well. Only ten minutes or less of meditation in the mornings or the evenings can radically improve your stress levels.

5. When something comes up, you get light-headed.

You pencil a plan or an appointment in your schedule and suddenly feel a little off balance or wobbly, or worse, you feel a sense of dread or doom.

Even if you’ve got something fun planned or a project coming up, you feel light-headed or like you need to sit.

Affirmations can help if you’ve got a full calendar and are worrying about deadlines. Say things like, “I always figure things out. I’ve got this. Whatever the challenge is, I’ll meet it.”

Best 5 meditation apps to destress during the day

Now that you know how feeling overwhelmed can affect you, here are the resources that can help.

Remember, though, that finding the right balance in your day-to-night life will radically transform your mental state. So, here are the five apps I’ve exclusively included that’ll ease your stress, anxiety and depression.

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1. Aura

    Aura is an app dedicated to making you more mindful. At a medical conference I recently attended, a physician introduced mindfulness this way:

    They dimmed the lights, told us to plant our feet on the ground, and focus on deep breaths.

    What’s nice about this app is it specifically addresses stress, anxiety and depression which studies show all work together and against you.

    Every day, this app will determine your current mood and then use that to assign different meditations. The app itself promotes calmness through its blue color.

    Another additional feature of the app is it prompts you to add what you’re grateful for. Overtime, gratitude will make you feel less stressed and more positive when it comes to tackling hefty tasks.

    Available for iOS | Android

    2. Calm

      Calm is another beautifully designed app that has peaceful backgrounds and is relaxing to look at.

      A series of meditations can range from ten to twenty minutes and it will allow you to develop a routine or daily practice.

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      Upon opening the app, you can select something you’d like to immediately achieve such as reduce anxiety, improve focus, increase happiness, better sleep, and the app teaches you how to meditate.

      You can use it for free but if you subscribe, you’ll need to pay to have access to the full set of features.

      Available for iOS | Android

      3. Headspace

        Headspace is free to use and the app goes in depth with meditation, describes why and how it works, and contains guided and unguided meditations.

        What’s nice about Headspace is it allows you to do mental health check-ins to prevent overwhelm from creeping in. Those appointments with yourself are crucial and bring awareness to your mental and emotional state.

        For me, Headspace inspires me to care and focus more on my psychological health and well-being.

        If you have depression and anxiety, it’s critical to manage your mental health daily.

        Available for iOS | Android

        4. Food Planner

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          Stress and overwhelm can stem from feeling like there is no time to cook food and eat healthy. With a slammed schedule, which I always have, I’ve found this app to be quite helpful when it comes to planning simple recipes.

          My cooking routine is toss vegetables in a blender, dump them on a cookie tray, and roast everything in the oven. Meal preparation doesn’t have to take three hours, it can take only minutes.

          If you have a schedule that forces you to be on all the time, making time to eat right can seem impossible.

          Every Sunday or whatever day you have off or down time, plug simple meals into this app. It’s a lifesaver and puts these seemingly impossible tasks into perspective.

          Available for iOS | Android

          5. YouTube

          YouTube can be used to ease feelings of overwhelm. I am only on YouTube to calm my stress and anxiety. My playlist consists of ocean waves, birds, and crickets, and instrumental music with nature sounds weaved throughout.

          On YouTube, you can access guided meditations and find breathing techniques that target emotional well-being. Breathing techniques are an excellent way to take control of anxiety.

          Here’s an example:

          Final thoughts

          All of these apps are perfect for managing depression and anxiety related to stress and overwhelm.

          When you’re overwhelmed, a part of your brain shuts down — the part that controls emotions. If you’re operating on high-stress all the time, you eventually won’t be able to function effectively or do your best work.

          Allow yourself moments of peace and quiet. Listen to your body’s desires for easing stress. A balanced schedule will create a positive difference both at your job and in your personal life.

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          More by this author

          Tessa Koller

          Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

          How to Work Towards a Healthy Life Balance 11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says) 10 Ways to Step Up Your Personal Growth and Succeed in Life 13 Reasons Why You Should Fail Fast to Learn Fast

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          1 Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide) 2 20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia 3 13 Essential Self-Care Tips for Busy People 4 How to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance 5 How to Relax, Unwind and Reduce Stress

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          Last Updated on March 30, 2020

          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

          Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

          Feeling tired all the time?

          Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

          I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

          Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

          If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

          In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

          What Happens When You’re Too Tired

          If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

          Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

          • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
          • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
          • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
          • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
          • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
          • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
          • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

          Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

          Unfortunately, yes!

          Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

          Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

          Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

          Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

          Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

          Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

          1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
          2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
          3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

          The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

          It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

          Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

          Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

          If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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          Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

          Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

          But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

          Symptoms of fatigue include:

          • Difficulty concentrating
          • Low stamina
          • Difficulty sleeping
          • Anxiety
          • Low motivation

          These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

          Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

          How Much Sleep Is Enough?

          The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

          Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

          So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

          The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

          Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

          Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

          If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

          And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

          It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

          4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

          Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

          1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
          2. Exercising regularly
          3. Using stressbusters
          4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

          So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

          After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

          In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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          I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

          Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

          • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
          • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
          • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
          • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

          The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

          And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

          But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

          L — Living Healthy

          Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

          So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

          In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

          As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

          Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

          1. Unplug

          Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

          So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

          2. Unwind

          Do something to relax.

          Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

          3. Get Comfortable

          Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

          Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

          Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

          Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

          If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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          Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

          This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

          E — Exercise

          Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

          That’s what happened in my case.

          But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

          As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

          My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

          That made sense to me.

          So, I decided to swim.

          I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

          Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

          Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

          So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

          If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

          A — Attitude

          Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

          When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

          Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

          Breathing.

          But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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          Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

          1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
          2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
          3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
          4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
          5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
          6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

          This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

          When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

          Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

          N — Nutrition

          Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

          If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

          Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

          For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

          Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

          Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

          1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
          2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
          3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
          4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
          5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
          6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
          7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
          8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
          9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

          Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

          That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

          Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

          The Bottom Line

          If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

          If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

          If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

          • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
          • Regular Exercise You Love
          • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
          • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

          Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

          More Tips to Help You Rest Better

          Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
          [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
          [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
          [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
          [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
          [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
          [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
          [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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