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Best Apps to Manage Stress and Get Your Weight Under Control

When you are experiencing a high level of stress and anxiety, it does not matter what kind of a miracle-working weight-monitoring app you use — you probably will not get any satisfying results. Have you ever wondered what is the connection between being stressed and your body weight?
Although there are multiple reasons behind sudden weight gain or loss or your dissatisfaction with your body image, a high level of anxiety is definitely one of the most common factors. It is therefore hardly possible to manage your weight without treating the other part of the equation — stress. Dealing with stress is a skill that anybody can acquire, and these 7 apps will make the process so much easier.
To know what kind of skills you need to develop, we first need to get through the processes behind this stress-and-weight correlation. Stress is our biological response to a dangerous situation that stimulates the production of cortisol and adrenaline that prepare our bodies to act. We inherited this mechanism — which is known as a fight-or-flight response — from our forefathers since it helped them to survive in the dangers of the wild environment. Although no tigers are walking in the streets these days, we are still surrounded by signals and events (urban noise, deadlines, phone calls, or paying taxes) that activate this mechanism. For many people, it's active throughout most of the day.

The root of the problem is here: the high level of cortisol that makes our body ready to react, also increasing our appetite though slowing down the metabolism. For many people, this will result in weight gain. Many of us also find consolation in "comfort" foods that we tend to consume in abundance. However, an increase in stress and anxiety can also cause weight loss as well as general dissatisfaction with your appearance that will make you experiment with all sorts of diets and food restrictions that, in reality, just perpetuate the stress.
fight or flight response that causes weight gain under stress
CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikipedia.org

In our modern-day lives when stress is often inevitable, we need to work on enhancing our resilience and developing coping mechanisms. Professional counseling is a great resource for that but it might not be covered by your insurance plan and otherwise be too pricey. But there are still some free or affordable resources (beyond Headspace and Calm meditation apps) that can teach you some coping mechanisms that will aid your stress reduction and weight management.
The best apps for stress-weight management
How can these apps be beneficial for your stress and weight trouble?

The 7 apps below can:
  • evaluate your level of stress
  • provide with anti-stress activities
  • help you discover which practices increase your stress resilience
  • offer you a recovery program
  • teach you breathing and other stress-relief techniques.
Most importantly, they make you realize that food does not help you cope with stress while some other practices can do it much better.
Evaluating your level of stress is extremely important if you want to achieve some long-lasting effects: this app can measure your stress level just in 90 seconds with a simple movement. You just place a finger on your smartphone's camera — no need to go through boring questionnaires and forms. StressScan analyzes your stress level based on the work of your autonomic nervous system (basically by checking your heart rate) and ranges your current state on a scale from 1 to 100.

It might sound tricky but the app gives you clear instructions before the measurement is taken; you also log in your subjective stress index, hours of sleep, and the time of the day (you can also write a short note to yourself about how you feel). These additional parameters help to verify the measured stress level and help you to recognize a pattern. You can take notice of what inflicts your anxiety, what kind of activities make you feel less nervous (and try to avoid comforting yourself with food) and how your weight changes. The app makes you aware of the processes in your body and mind — it's a good start of a recovery program.

Although measuring heart rate is a sound way to track physical symptoms of stress and nervousness, it is doubtful that it can reflect your mental state. You should consider playing around with this app (it's also absolutely free) but don't take the results as final. As one of the users noted, you can come from a run feeling relieved and happy for the first time in a few weeks, but due to your high pulse, the StressScan will tell you are stressed. However, your mind and the mental state tells a completely different story. To sum up, it's an excellent idea and it might work well for you. I've actually found sitting still for 90 seconds while the measurement is being taken quite relaxing in itself!
StressScan – Check your stress is available on iOS and Android for free.
Whenever your heart rate pumps up, blood rushes to your face and you're feeling emotionally unstable — open this app and enjoy a simple game. After five minutes of performing simple activities accompanied by pleasant sounds and relaxing forms, you will feel relief. The Antistress app does exactly this: it helps you to cool down and free your mind from focusing on a dilemma that drowns you in the pool of stress, at least for a while.

In this app, there are fifty different games and you can find anything that suits your taste. You can peel a carrot (not joking, give it a try!), play criss-cross, jingle with bamboo sticks, sharpen a pencil… Well, it's easier to tell what you can't do in this app. Indeed, it is a great tool for diversion.

But let's make it clear: Antistress won't teach you how to cope with stress, how to evaluate your stress level, how to deal with your stress-triggers or how to cure binge-eating and normalize your weight. It is only a momentary solution, but a very efficient one! If you are still skeptical about a game helping you combat your anxieties — go read the user reviews. Some people with panic attacks or a high level of stress swear that this app helps them immensely — it's the best kind of testimony.
Antistress – Relaxing games is available for free on iOS and Android with additional purchases if you want to access more games.
It is a diary that can be kept "without having to type a single line" — sounds awesome for busy people and those who are not born a writer. With Daylio, you just log in your emotions, the atmosphere around you, and meals just with a few tags that are fully customizable (and they offer many languages too). It has a great colorful interface that you can play around with to fit your own needs — for tracking your stress level together with food consumption and weight changes (or your satisfaction with the body image).

The app stores all your data (but privately, one can even secure the app with a password) and shows you monthly and yearly charts of your mood swings or eating patterns. Daylio's tracking function is also immensely helpful for acquiring new habits or correcting existing ones.

The app though won't relieve your stress or teach you to resist anxiety, but again, awareness is the first step towards successful stress management. This app is quite good at providing "a great insight into yourself", as its users claim (4.8/5 on AppStore!). And those of you who enjoy writing feelings and activities down, don't be discouraged — the app has a journaling feature as well.
Daylio Journal is available on iOS and Android for free with in-app purchases.
This app is surprisingly similar to Antistress Relaxing Games. Without trying to make heads or tails of this similarity, the thing is that the apps have the same principle. AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game also has many different games that help your mind to divert and your body to relax. Additionally, playing a simple game is much better than relieving your stress with a bar of chocolate or other comfort foods that inevitably result in weight gain.

You can choose the game that fits your mood the best at the moment: some smashing will do when you want to release your anger or looking at the water circles will be helpful to relax.

The thing is that all of the games in this app are available for free while in Relaxing games one can play only a certain amount (but still a good one!) without buying additional access. The backside of this free access is that the app overloads you with advertisements (and users report it to be extremely annoying, especially when you try to relax). But you can get rid of the ads for just 0.99$.
AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game is available on iOS and Android for free with in-app purchases.
Sanvello is all about being calm and learning how to cope with your anxiety through self-awareness, exercises, and meditations. You might have known about this great app under its former name Pacifica. With this app, you can log your mood daily and add tags regarding what has affected it. On the next step, a whole program is set up that will help you become more mindful, enhance your mental wellbeing, and alleviate stress. The offered programs integrate approaches from cognitive behavioral therapy: you will learn meditation techniques and some journaling practices as well as acquire useful emotional coping mechanisms. These are not only beneficial for understanding your stress-patterns and mood swings but also for actively dealing with a high level of stress and preventing it in the long run. As a consequence, you won't be finding comfort in food anymore and your weight will normalize.

There are also some features beyond these stress-relief guided journeys: the app can track your habits and connect you to other users for peer-support. Sanvello also checks your progress and sends you regular reports about your possible stress triggers, mood changes and so on. It also supports full integration with Apple Health. "The app is my best friend right now!" — indeed, Sanvello is an excellent companion for your stress management that will also improve your eating quality and general well-being.

The downside is this app's price: while some US-based users can get premium access covered by their insurance plans, others will have to chip in for it. But don't despair, there are still some tools that you can test for free with Sanvello. The only thing that it requires consistency for great results, so be committed!
Sanvello for Stress & Anxiety is available on iOS and Android for free with in-app purchases.
Moodpath helps you overcome stress and emotional disturbances by mood-tracking, practicing self-awareness, and receiving guidance. To get started, you should track your emotions and mood by answering questions throughout the day and doing bi-weekly assessments. It is helpful to track also additional parameters, like what has caused your anxiety, whether you tried to cope with it with food that could cause eventual weight-gain, or how other coping mechanisms (like breathing or journaling) affect your state.

The app doesn't just leave you alone with this data but supports its users with tailored advice, which is wonderful. You will get advice about multiple tools for improving your state, mostly journaling and meditation techniques since these are the most effective ways. The app is useful alongside professional treatment as well as a self-help tool when trying to negotiate your stress-level.

The app gives a rather sharp assessment of your state, assigning depression and other medical conditions. There is a high chance that Moodpath can give an incorrect diagnosis that will scare you (for no good reason), so always be critical of its assessment. All in all, it's a very resourceful app. I love their "discover" page the most, where you can explore different resources for improving emotional health. As usual, some of its brilliant features are behind the paywall but still heaps of useful tools are available with a free version.
Moodpath: Depression & Anxiety is available on iOS and Android for free with an optional premium subscription.
Stress Relief & Management App also helps to control weight
Do you believe in the power of words? Then this app is for you: whenever feeling under pressure, turn on this app and get a nice calming quote. These quotes will make you rethink the nature of your anxieties or propose a better way of coping with them than overeating. Take a breath, read through some of the quotes, and go on.

This app doesn't aim at curing anxieties or managing your weight, it just gives you a coping toolkit. It will make a huge difference for some users while it might have a zero effect on the others.

The thing is that this great app wasn't updated for a while so it might look to you like a ghost from 2009. But the idea is excellent and I'm sure that it still works great as a momentary anxiety relief since many users share that it is "helpful in stressful times".
Stress Relief & Management App is available on iOS for free.
Although there is no such app on the market that would deal with the stress-weight connection, or, more precisely, with stress distorting your eating habits and body image, one can still benefit big time from using any of these apps on stress management. I'd advise you to pick two apps — one for a long term practice and another for momentary stress relief — and use jointly to get the best results. One of the possible pairs would be Sanvello with its wonderful guided journeys and Antistress Relaxing Games, but the mood tracking options of Daylio are also worth the praise.

With these apps, you should manage to control the level of stress, meaning that you won't go on a loop of over-stressing, and understand that food is not a solution to a problem or compensation for a bad day. Gradually, your eating patterns will normalize naturally, without any stressful diets and restrictions.