Every December I eventually hit the same frenzied point where I crack. It happens when the stress over gift shopping, menu planning, present wrapping, elf moving, family politics mitigating, tradition upholding and all the rest of the holiday goodness just becomes a little too much to bear. Throw in my family’s six - SIX! - December birthdays and no wonder I’m a little frazzled. I always come to the breaking point of realizing just how teetering on the edge I am when I’m out somewhere like the grocery store with a holiday soundtrack not so subtly blasting in the background.

You know the song "Sleigh Ride”? It’s cheerfully low-stress enough on the lyrical front - no shopping, no major plans, no huge religious events. It’s just some friends arriving and “calling yoo-hoo” and then hopping in a horse-drawn sleigh to snuggle up together and get “comfy cozy”. “Giddy up let’s go”, amirite? Well, there’s a 1960’s version of “Sleigh Ride'' sung by The Ronettes with a rock-pop background chorus in which they belt their hearts out with “ring-a-ling-a-ling, a ding-dong-ding!” It’s one of the all-time best versions of the song. But, every December, its raucously fast tempo and a key change right on one of those “ring-a-ling-a-ling, a ding-dong-dings”' ratchets up both the song and my anxiety level right through the snow covered roof. If it were a scene in a movie, the song would overlay the main character turning circles in slow motion in a packed store and taking in all the holiday madness around her - a child having a tantrum, crazy shoppers grabbing Black Friday deals, ornaments falling from trees and shattering, etc. Then she would slowly crumple to the floor using her gigantic and puffy coat as a shell. End scene.

I’m getting sweaty palms just thinking about it (and thinking about all I still want to get done before New Year’s Eve). But there’s hope for me yet! Knowing I can’t possibly be the only one struggling to maintain a nice even state of mind this time of year, we’ve gathered a little round-up of some meditation apps to download in the hopes that they will calm your body and mind while giving you a little perspective. Good luck!

Headspace

Get happy. Stress less. Sleep soundly. Headspace is your guide to mindfulness for your everyday life. Learn meditation and mindfulness skills from world-class experts like Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, and choose from hundreds of guided meditations on everything from managing stress and anxiety to sleep, focus, and mind-body health. Build your practice your way with meditations for every experience level and lifestyle - including short, 3-minute sessions that fit seamlessly into a busy schedule.

You’ve probably heard Headspace advertised on a podcast and many people are big fans. One of my favorite features is The Wake Up - a short, daily video series designed to brighten and focus your day in just minutes.

Calm

Calm is the #1 app for Sleep, Meditation, and Relaxation. Join the millions experiencing better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety with our guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and relaxing music. Calm is recommended by top psychologist, therapists, and mental health experts.

Calm is a great app for beginners but more advanced users will also find what they need. With variances in length from 3 to 25 minutes, you can find a meditation to fit in your schedule easily for a daily refocus session. Additionally, if you have issues getting a solid night’s sleep, Calm has sections especially dedicated to sleep with items like celebrities reading nighttime stories - including some for kids - as well as calming music and soundscapes like heavy rain or babbling brook to help you ease your mind and drift off to peaceful sleep.

Positive Pregnancy

This audio album Positive Pregnancy is exactly what you are looking for! The app consists of two free hypnosis sessions: Pregnancy Pick-Me-Up and Communicate with Your Baby, both beautifully relaxing and soothing. Positive Pregnancy and Positive Pregnancy Bedtime are the main, longer and highly effective hypnosis tracks aiming to reduce any anxiety surrounding pregnancy and promote a relaxed state of mind throughout these precious months. They focus on the mind, body and soul, with special attention to the chakras and energy body to promote both a healthy and vibrant pregnancy and a positive childbirth.

The host has an amazingly calming voice as she guides you through meditations and deep breathing exercises to help you connect mentally with your baby. A great way to mitigate some holiday stress while focusing on you and your growing baby.

Insight Timer - Meditation App

The #1 free meditation app. Guided meditations and talks led by the world’s top mediation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers from Stanford, Harvard, the University of Oxford and more. Music tracks from world-renowned artists. Join millions learning to meditate on Insight Timer to help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, manage stress, sleep deeply and improve happiness.

Insight Timer stands apart with the world’s largest collection of free guided meditations that you can select by both length and meditation type. It has live yoga practices from some of the world’s best teachers and sleep meditations and music to help calm the mind and body in preparation for sleep as well as group meditation for teams.

Mindfulness

Reduce stress in work and personal life, gradually eliminate anxiety, have more and better sleeping hours, help yourself to concentrate, see how your health improves, and reach happiness in any area of your life with the meditation exercises and techniques we have created for you.

Separated into Guided Meditations, Relax, and Zone-Out, you can choose and customize your meditation and relaxation practice.

Ten Percent Happier

New to meditation? Get fidgety just thinking about it? Our expert teachers will walk you through the basics, one breath at a time. Want to sleep better, be more mindful, improve your relationships, and become just about ten percent happier? This app is for you. Our guided meditations, videos, talks, and sleep content will help you build (or boost) your meditation practice, and stick with it.

With video and meditation combos that make it fun and straightforward to learn to meditate and a library of 500+ guided meditations on topics, you’ll be able to find exactly what you need on this app.

So there you have it. If not entirely free, many of the meditation apps out there have a free trial period to test them and determine if you want to join with a membership. So experiment with a few to find one that fits best with your personality and lifestyle. And here’s to hoping you find yourself in a quiet space for even just a few minutes a day this holiday season to calm your body and mind with some deep breathing and guided meditations…without a holiday soundtrack blasting in the background.