5 Free Apps For Dealing with Back-To-School Anxiety, Because This Time Of The Year Is Super Stressful

Ah, the end of August: Summer is fading; school is approaching; everything smells like new pencils and notebook paper; and your mom just bought you a killer, dorm-approved coffee maker. All is good... except that for those of us who struggle with anxiety, it's not. This time of the year in particular can be pretty tough to get through, so why not take advantage of a few apps to help with back-to-school anxiety? Bonus: They're free, so you don't even have to drop any cash to use them.

Before we go any further, I do want to note that none of these apps should be used as a stand-in for therapy and treatment. If you're struggling, talk to someone and get help — because while these apps are helpful tools and handy to have around, they won't necessarily address the deeper issues. However, most of us are on our phones all day anyway, so might as well put those fingers to use, if only for a few minutes, right?

These apps focus primarily on breathing techniques, mindfulness, and guided mediation, all of which have been shown to reduce anxiety. Personally, I use both Pacifica and Beath2Relax: Pacifica for daily check-ins, journaling, and mindfulness, and Breath2Relax for mini-courses in "belly breathing." This August, I'm chillin' — as much as I can be, at least.

1. Pacifica

I have this guy, and it's awesome. The app addresses a variety of elements that can exacerbate anxiety, including eating, sleeping, and exercise habits. It also checks in with you on a daily basis regarding your mood, as well as pushes you to complete daily "experiments" that, if you are like me and are a master procrastinator, help get shit done, plain and simple.

Free for iOS and Android.

2. Breathe2Relax

Developed by the National Telehealth and Technology Center, this straightforward app helps you record your own stress levels and provides instructional diaphragmatic breathing videos and graphics.

Free for iOS and Android.

3. MindShift

With a focus on teens and young adults with anxiety, MindShift offers journaling, symptom tracking, and breathing exercises; it also provides strategies for dealing with social- and school-related stressors.

Free for iOS and Android.

4. Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep

OK, so, the title isn't super catchy, but it's a pretty accurate description of this simple app. Choose from landscapes and sounds, set a timer (it can be for 10 minutes or all night), and take a deep breath.

Free for iOS and Android.

5. Headspace

Self-described as a "gym membership for your mind," Headspace basically functions as a 10-day meditation boot camp, with the average length of meditation time beginning at 10 minutes (which is great for me because I can barely sit still for that long). If after your 10 days you want to really go all in, there's a yearly $12.95 fee.

Free for iOS and Android for 10 days.

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