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It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious nowadays as the pandemic brings forth another year of uncertainty. For some, these feelings might be completely unfamiliar, while others might be looking for new ways to cope or manage existing emotions or conditions.
Whatever your level of anxious feelings or unrest, it can be helpful to try your hand at meditation to keep your mental health in check.
Calm is a mindfulness app for both newcomers and meditation enthusiasts alike. It can help users find inner peace and navigate life’s stressors.
Read on for more about what Calm has to offer, and if it’s right for you.
Calm is an award-winning mindfulness app that’s available for iOS, Android, and desktop. Developed in 2012, Calm has over 100 million downloads and more than 700,000 5-star reviews.
The app features hundreds of calming exercises, helpful breathing techniques, and sleep stories narrated by celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.
Calm has many offerings and the interface is relatively simple to navigate through. Plus, they’re constantly adding new content.
- easy-to-use interface
- sleep stories recorded by celebrities, like Harry Styles, Matthew McConaughey, and Bob Ross
- app is regularly updated
- ability to track basic statistics, like the number of consecutive days used, minutes meditated, and number of sessions
- meditation reminders sent to your phone or tablet
- mood tracking over time
- kid-friendly interface
- masterclasses taught by experts in the wellness field
- real-life visuals and nature sounds
- unable to add “friends” on the app
- nature sounds distracting to some
- sleep stories too long for some users
- Calm Body has limited offerings
As soon as you open the app, you’re welcomed to take a few deep breaths. Then, a pop-up menu asks you to select what brought you to the app so that it can tailor recommendations based on your goals.
Are you looking to increase your happiness or reduce stress? Do you want to get better sleep or reduce anxiety? All of the above?
The meditation section is organized into different categories, like Stress, Focus, Anxiety, and Relationships. Calm offers both guided and unguided meditations and the sessions can range anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes.
Calm doesn’t focus on religious or spiritual themes, but rather Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This program teaches people to use their innate resources to help manage stress and pain.
Some MBSR techniques include body scans, walking meditations, shifting from focus to awareness, and breathing exercises.
Free vs. paid
Calm is built on a “freemium” model, which gives you access to their daily meditations, breathing exercises, mood tracker, select sleep stories, several music tracks, and some guided meditations without purchase.
The 7-day free trial unlocks more than 100 guided meditations, the entire sleep stories library, exclusive musical tracks for sleep and relaxation, and masterclasses led by experts.
After the free trial ends, access to the full library is $14.99 per month or $69.99 per year. If you pay for the year in full, it comes out to $5.83 per month, which is more affordable than other meditation apps on the market.
For teams of five or more, Calm offers a 15 percent discount. Calm also offers a lifetime membership for $399.99.
Calm is best known for its meditations. They’re divided up into different categories, such as sleep, beginners, work, inner peace, anxiety, emotions, and personal growth.
Each category contains topic-specific meditation packs or singles. For example, in the anxiety section, you’ll find sessions like “Panic SOS,” “Calming Flight Anxiety,” and “Letting Go into Sleep.”
Beginners are encouraged to start off with the “7 Days of Calm” series, and then transition into “21 Days of Calm” to sharpen their skills.
The “Daily Calm,” updated every morning, offers a 10-minute guided meditation that focuses on different wellness topics.
If you miss being tucked in at night with a sweet bedtime story and a glass of warm milk, then you’re in luck. The sleep stories section on Calm is chock-full of stories ranging from fairy tales to non-fiction and ASMR.
The app is constantly being updated with new stories, and they’re often narrated by A-list celebrities, like Harry Styles, Scottie Pippen, and Kelly Rowland. There’s even a few nap sessions for those looking for a quick snooze.
The music section of Calm contains hundreds of curated soundtracks to put you at ease while working, walking, or falling asleep. The app has everything organized into six categories: Focus, Lullabies, Relax, Sleep, Soundscapes, and Nature Melodies.
Calm also plays background music as you scroll through the app or start a session. It’s customizable, so you can choose between a calming aquascape, rain on a window, a campfire, and more. You are able to easily adjust the sound level.
Calm’s masterclasses are short courses taught by mindfulness experts and esteemed professionals, like Shawn Achor, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Ryan Holiday.
Masterclasses focus on a wide array of topics, like breaking bad habits, embracing stillness, conscious parenting, and discovering happiness. Each masterclass comes with a free introductory video, but only paying subscribers have access to entire courses.
This offering is great for anyone looking to dive deeper into the world of mindfulness. This educational component is what sets Calm apart from its competitors.
Calm offers meditations, sleep stories, and music designed for children of all ages. Kids can learn to meditate with Thomas the Tank Engine, listen to soothing lullabies, or fall asleep to classic stories, like “Peter Pan” or “The Velveteen Rabbit.”
Calm has children’s offering for kids as young as as 3 years old. They say their sessions equip children with the proper tools to handle whatever life throws their way. Additionally, research suggests that mindfulness instruction can improve psychological functioning and can reduce some of the negative effects of stress, and reduce trauma-associated symptoms in some children.
Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, so Calm Body can be beneficial for your wellbeing.
There are currently 8 Calm Body sessions on the app. Each session is a 10-minute movement designed with mindfulness in mind. You can choose from:
- “Morning Wake Up”
- “Afternoon Reset”
- “Mindful Warm Up”
- “Mindful Cool Down”
- “Evening Wind Down”
- “Morning Stretch”
- “Evening Stretch”
- “Back Care”
Calm may benefit individuals looking to gain the skills and knowledge to deal with daily stress or anxiety.
Calm is a science-based mindfulness app that can be used by beginners and experts alike. If you are looking to find more peace in your daily life, or if you’re simply looking to add new tools to your mental health toolkit, then it might be worth giving Calm a shot.
The more regularly you utilize the app and its many features, the more you might notice positive mental health benefits.
Newcomers can start off with courses like “How to Meditate” to get acclimated to the practice. Experts can play around with the Less Guidance section, where they’ll find a meditation timer, lightly guided meditations, and open-ended meditations with bells.
Statistics on time spent meditating can help you track your progress on the app.
Calm can help soothe negative thoughts and emotions and can be used to help lower stress, anxiety, or chronic pain.
Calm is not a replacement for anyone experiencing symptoms of depression or moderate to severe anxiety. It can, however, be used in conjunction with psychotherapy and prescribed medication.
Keep in mind
Calm isn’t a substitute for emergency services. In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Calm is a great one-stop shop for anyone looking to improve their mental well-being. The app teaches users how to reduce anxiety and stress, sleep better, and check in with their emotions.
If you want to give Calm a try, get started here.
Iman Balagam is a writer based in Houston, Texas. When she’s not laughing at her own jokes, or buying overpriced chia pudding, she can be found reading fiction novels, catching a spin class, doomscrolling through TikTok, or waiting for her delayed Spirit flight to board. You can see more of her work on her website.